# How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games. Its popularity is partly due to the fact that it is easy to learn and play. It also offers a variety of betting options, including side bets. The game was probably invented in France in 1700. It was then called Vingt-et-Un, meaning twenty-one.

The objective of the game is to beat the dealer with a higher, unbusted hand. Players can also increase their bets during favorable hands and take insurance, which is a side bet that pays when the dealer shows an ace. However, it is important to remember that if the player busts, he loses; the same is true of the dealer.

Unlike many casino table games, blackjack allows the player to make decisions that will change the odds in his favor. Using basic strategy, a player can reduce the house advantage to less than 1%, although variations in the rules and number of decks used will affect the exact percentage. In addition, certain techniques, such as counting cards, can give the player an even greater edge.

It is usually possible to count the number of cards that have already been dealt in a blackjack game, which will provide information about the remaining cards. This information can be used to improve the player’s strategy and maximize winnings. The most common method involves keeping track of a simple point system as the cards are dealt out of the dealer’s hand. Other methods involve analyzing the composition of the dealer’s hand and estimating the probability that he has a blackjack. Regardless of the method, card counting will help the player to make more profitable bets and to improve his chances of beating the dealer.

The house advantage in blackjack is the difference between the expected return on a bet and the actual payoff. The expected return on a bet is calculated by multiplying the probability of each event by the bet size. The house advantage is greater when the bet size is larger, and smaller when it is lower.

In blackjack, the odds of a dealer having a blackjack are very low, and therefore it is unwise for a player to take insurance. The dealer will only have a blackjack less than one-third of the time. In addition, the player’s bet is not returned if the dealer has a blackjack.

The standard payout for a winning blackjack is 3:2. Some casinos offer 6:5 or even money on naturals, which increases the house edge by 1.4% and 2.3% respectively. Another way to minimize the house edge is to choose to stand when the dealer has a face up card of 6, which is the worst possible card for the dealer. This will leave you with a 22% chance of winning, which is better than the odds of losing if you hit.