Everywhere I read manuals it focuses my options as a player. I can't figure out if the dealer knows his hidden card or not? Of course, when dealer has 10 or Ace showing, he checks if he's got a blackjack, right?
What are the dealer's options?
Blackjack dealers have no options for the in-game decisions of whether to hit or stay; they follow a strict algorithm that will depend on their casino. The dealer waits until the players have exercised all their options, then the dealer reveals his hidden card and hits until he has at least 17 (most common).
The only variation I'm familiar with is a rule where the dealer will hit a soft 17 (any 17 with an Ace taking the value 11--denoted "H17" for Hit 17, as opposed to "S17" for Stand 17), but this is not the dealer's choice, it will be determined by the casino. According to Wikipedia, this rule will generally be printed on the table if it is being used, and it hurts players. Wikipedia phrases it the other direction: going from H17 to S17. "Substituting an "H17" rule with an "S17" rule in a game benefits the player, decreasing the house edge by about 0.2%"
See @NiceVerAz's answer below for a nice explanation of "meta-game" options that the dealer does control.
The dealer has several options when exercising his duties.
His employer wants him to generate as much revenue as possible, which means:
Which gives several options:
All in all, the dealer has many options:
If dealers had no options, they'd have been replaced by robots a long time ago.
The dealer knows what both of his cards are.
In casino play, the dealer has no options. He always has to hit values below 16/17 (the exact number varies by casino), and has to stay when his cards are higher.
In non-casino play, often the dealer is just another player and has the same options as you. This is not really blackjack and will not use the same strategies as casino blackjack.