Blackjack is often considered a game of chance, but there’s actually quite a bit of strategy involved. Using basic strategy, you can minimize the house edge and make money. The goal is to get a hand that totals 21 or higher than the dealer’s. You have several options when you’re dealt your cards: hit, stand, split, or double down. There are also side bets that you can place to add an extra element of risk and excitement.
Before you play blackjack, it’s important to understand the rules of the game. There are a lot of different variations on blackjack, and each one has its own set of rules. Having a firm grasp on the basics can help you avoid making any unnecessary mistakes that can cost you big.
Getting to know the basics of blackjack begins with understanding the value of each card. Number cards (2-10) are worth their numerical value, face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are each worth 10, and aces can be worth either 1 or 11, depending on the situation. When playing blackjack, it’s also important to be able to calculate the value of your hand by adding up the value of all the cards you have.
Once players have made their bets, the dealer will deal two cards to each player and two to himself (one card face up, the other face down). Then, the players must decide whether to hit, stand, or surrender. If the player’s hand totals higher than the dealer’s, they win; if it equals or goes over 21, the player busts and loses.
Hitting in blackjack is the best option when your two starting cards are a pair, like two eights or two threes. You can also split nines, sevens, and eights if the dealer is showing a two or a six. When you split a pair of eights, for example, you make a second bet equal to your original bet and then play each hand as a separate hand. This method of play can lead to a better result than just hitting, especially in cases where the dealer’s upcard is a weak one.
Another important blackjack rule is knowing when to double down. You can double down on any two-card hand before the dealer shows his or her hole card. The most common situations for doubling down are when you have a hard 11 against a dealer’s upcard of 5, and when you have an ace against a dealer’s 10.
Some people practice counting cards to increase their chances of winning at blackjack. This involves keeping a running total of the cards you’ve seen, raising your bet as the count gets higher and decreasing it as the count goes down. However, this requires a lot of practice and discipline, and it’s not for everyone. In addition, counting cards can be confusing for beginners. It’s usually easier to just stick with a basic strategy and deviate only when necessary.