Blackjack is a card game that pits the player against the dealer. Each gets two cards and the objective is to make a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over. The other players at the table are irrelevant. The player’s hand competes only against the dealer’s. To do that, you need a good understanding of basic strategy and the rules of the game.
Basic strategy is a set of actions that the player should take based on the hand he or she is dealt and the dealer’s upcard. It can seem overwhelming at first, but a simple cheat sheet will help. The chart shows the best play for every situation and you can consult it as you play the game. It also explains why some decisions are better than others, such as splitting Aces and Eights or not taking insurance.
The best way to increase your chances of winning is to double down when you have a strong hand. This requires an additional bet that is equal to your original bet amount. The dealer will then draw another card and you have the opportunity to improve your hand. Generally, you should double down when the total of your first two cards is 11 or more. It is also a good idea to double when the dealer has a weak up card such as a six or seven.
Splitting pairs is one of the most important blackjack strategies. In general, you should always split a pair of eights or aces unless the dealer has a 10, which is an indication that they are more likely to bust than you. However, it is not a good idea to split 10s or fives. You should also not split fours or threes unless the dealer has a 2.
If you have an eleven against the dealer’s 3, 4, 5 or 6, you should hit, because it is very unlikely that they will beat you. On the other hand, you should stand when you have a twelve against the dealer’s 6 or lower. You should also stand when you have a 17 or higher against the dealer’s 2, 3 or 4.
There are some card counting systems that can improve your blackjack playing, but it is very time consuming and complicated. You have to count the cards in the shoe and raise your bets when you think the deck is in your favor, which can be confusing at times.
Budgeting sensibly for a blackjack session is the key to staying in control of your bankroll. Decide how long you want to play, consider any buy-in and bet limits and the number of hands per hour the table is playing. This will allow you to play a reasonable number of hands and prevent you from losing too much money at any one point. It will also keep you from getting frustrated when other players are losing and encourage you to stick to your plan.