Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a card game that pits the dealer against one or more players. Players attempt to get a total of 21 or to come closer than the dealer, without busting. Face cards count as 10, and aces are worth either 1 or 11. A player can choose to hit (ask for an additional card) until their total exceeds 21, or they can stand with the two cards they already have. The dealer also has a choice to hit or stand, depending on the value of their up card.

The house advantage in blackjack is about 5%, and it can be minimized through careful play. Some experts advocate learning to count cards, which gives the player a small advantage over the dealer. However, this strategy requires good memory and some knowledge of probability theory. A more reasonable approach is to stick to basic strategy, which will almost always yield the right play, and the few mistakes you make won’t cost much.

There are several rules that must be followed in blackjack: a player may split if his or her first two cards are of the same value, but cannot double after splitting. A player must hit if the dealer’s up card is 2 to 6, but must stand with a 12 or higher. A player may also opt to take insurance, which pays 2-1 if the dealer has an ace up. Other side bets, such as Lucky Ladies and dealer match, are sometimes available.

After the players have completed their action, the dealer’s cards are revealed. If the dealer has a total of 16 or lower, they must hit. If the dealer has a hand of 17 or more, they must stand. If the player has a higher total than the dealer’s, they win. Otherwise, the hand ties.

Some players choose to increase their original bet by up to two times, doubling down. This is a risky move, and it is not recommended unless you are confident that your hand will beat the dealer’s. However, if you do have a good hand, it may be worthwhile to double down when the dealer shows an ace or a 10.

In some casinos, the dealers are required to stand on soft 17, and in others they must hit. This makes a difference in the odds of the game, and is why it’s important to choose a table that follows the rules you prefer. You should also try to find a table that offers 3:2 payouts for blackjack, as opposed to a lower or even money payoff. This will significantly improve your chances of winning!