The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino game that involves the player versus the dealer. Its rules are based on card counting, probability and strategy. The goal is to win by having a hand that is higher than the dealer’s, or by not going bust (exceeding 21). Players can also improve their odds by splitting, hitting and standing. The game is played with chips and can be found at most casinos. It is also offered as a game in online casinos.

The basic blackjack playing strategy is a set of rules that inform you of the best way to play every hand dealt to you when all you know about is your own cards and the dealer’s upcard. The strategy is mathematically correct and maximizes your chances of winning while minimising the amount you lose.

To make the most of your time and money at a blackjack table, learn the basic strategy and use it whenever possible. You can also use it as a reference point for other more complex strategies. Blackjack is a game of math and odds and you must think clearly to make the right decisions. To avoid committing mistakes, never play while you are drunk or after a long day at work. It is also a good idea to limit your play time and to only gamble when you can concentrate fully.

When you are dealt two cards of equal value, it is wise to double down. This increases your bet by as much as 2 times the original amount – depending on the casino you are in. This is a risky move, however, as you will only win if your additional card makes your hand 21 or better. Moreover, you will have to wait for the dealer’s next card to be revealed before you can decide whether to continue.

The dealer’s first card is dealt face up, and then each player takes a turn to hit, stand, surrender, double down or split. Once all players have acted, the dealer will deal themselves one more card, face up. If a player has a natural (an ace and a ten-card), they pay one and a half times their bet amount to the dealer, while if the dealer has a natural, they collect all bets from the players who do not have a natural.

To increase your chances of a high-value hand, always split pairs of 8s and Aces. Both of these powerful cards are worth 11 and splitting them will remove the possibility of a hard 16 – the worst possible hand in blackjack. The other reason to split 8s is that it can help you make a strong hand close to 21, if the dealer has a weak upcard such as 2 or 3. It is important to remember that splitting 8s will also reduce your total wager by a significant margin.