A dealer is required to play his hand in a specific way, and with hardly any other choices available to him. There are actually two very popular variations that would determine what totals the dealer must be able to draw to. In any given casino, you can tell which rule is being used by looking at the blackjack table. The table must have a clearly labeled sign that would indicate either one of these rules:* “Dealer stands on all 17s”
This rule is actually the most common. With this particular rule, the dealer must continue to take cards until he gets a 17 or higher. An Ace that is in the hand of the dealer is always counted as an 11 as much as possible without the dealer actually going over 21.
* “Dealer hits soft 17”
There are some casinos that use this rule variation instead. This rule is actually identical except for what actually happens when the dealer has a soft total of 17. Examples of soft 17 hands are (Ace, 6), (Ace, 5, Ace), and Ace, 2, 4). The dealer hits these hands and then stands on soft 18 or higher or on a hard 17 or higher. When this particular rule is used the house advantage against the other players is actually raised a bit.
It must be reiterated that the dealer really has no choice to make in the play of his hand. He cannot split any pairs, and he must instead simply hit until he reaches at least 17 or he busts by going over 21. The most important role of the dealer is to act second because it is this that enables the house to have an edge over the player.
Every time the player acts first and busts and then the dealer also busts then the player still loses. This is the pivotal advantage of the dealer over the player and even knowing and implementing accurate basic strategy doesn’t overcome the house edge in casino blackjack.