Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games. It can be played with single or multiple decks, and is a good game for beginners to learn. It also has a low house edge if played properly.
Strategy is the key to winning at blackjack. If you use perfect strategy, you can reduce the house edge to less than 1%. It can also help you avoid losing too much money when playing.
In blackjack, you must make a decision after the dealer’s up card has been revealed: whether to stand, hit, surrender, or double down. The dealer then acts next, taking a card from the hole and another from the shoe (or from a pitch).
Basic strategy tells you the best way to play for each hand based on the value of your hand and the card that the dealer is showing. It is a great starting point for any player, but it is not perfect and may not be the best approach in every situation.
There are many different versions of blackjack, and these all have slightly different rules and odds. Some casinos have a single deck, while others use four or eight decks. In addition, some allow the dealer to stand on soft 17 and hit on hard 17.
If you follow the strategy charts below, you should be able to improve your odds by over 40%. You won’t win 100% of the time, but you should be able to get close.
The goal of blackjack is to have a hand total that is higher than the dealer’s. If you do, you will win the bet, and if you don’t, you will lose the bet.
You can play blackjack against the dealer, or against other players. You can bet on either side of the table, or you can place a side bet in an area next to the main wager. In some games, the bets on both sides of the table are combined into a single wager.
Insurance: When the dealer’s face up card is a ten-valued card, you can pay an extra bet to cover your losses if you think the dealer has a blackjack. This bet pays 2:1 and is only valid if the dealer has a blackjack, which occurs less than one-third of the time.
Often, insurance bets can lose you more money than the original bet. The chances of the dealer having a blackjack are about 9:4 if you use enough decks, and about 2.5:1 if you only use 6 or 8 decks.
Aside from the insurance bet, other betting options include surrender and doubling down. Surrender is a good option when you think the dealer has a blackjack but don’t know for sure.
Split: If you are dealt two cards of the same value, you can separate them into two hands and bet on each separately. You can split up to five times, although this isn’t allowed in some casinos.
Doubling down: You can double your bet on a second hand after seeing the dealer’s up card, but only if you have a pair or better. You can also double down after receiving a 10 or Ace, but it is not recommended to do so if you are playing against a player who is paying insurance or has a blackjack.