The Basics of Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a game of skill in which players compete against the dealer. Cards are dealt face up and the goal is to build a hand that has a value of 21 or close to it. The player may hit (request more cards) or stand (keep their current two cards). The dealer has a set of rules for when to make a move that increases the chances of a win.

Each player places a bet before the cards are dealt. The minimum and maximum bets are usually posted on the table. Once the bets are placed, the dealer deals each player two cards face up. The player can then choose to “hit” or “stand.”

When a player’s initial two cards add up to 11 and the dealer’s upcard is between 2 and 6, it is generally recommended to double down. This is a risky move, but one that will maximize the chance of getting a strong winning hand in the long run. The blackjack strategy chart on this page demonstrates how to properly play each situation in the game.

The game of blackjack can also be played with a variety of side bets. Some of these side bets have high payouts if the player’s hand beats the dealer’s, while others have lower payouts but still provide some extra money to the player. It’s best to avoid placing these bets if you are on a losing streak, however, as they can quickly deplete your bankroll.

If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, you win and are paid out your original wager. If your hand is equal to the dealer’s, the round ends in a tie and you don’t get paid on your bet.

In some games of blackjack, the dealer will be offered insurance on their upcard if they don’t have a blackjack. The dealer will check their hole card using a special window in the table and if they have a blackjack, they will take all player’s original bets and pay out 2 to 1 on any insurance bets.

The game of blackjack is a fast-paced game and can be quite exciting, but it’s important to remember that you’re competing against the dealer alone. The decisions of other players at the table won’t impact your hand, so it’s best to ignore them and focus on your own strategy. Frank Scoblete, author of Beat Blackjack Now, recommends avoiding “comps” or casino freebies as they aren’t worth blowing your monthly mortgage on.

Having effective bankroll management is key to success in blackjack. A good rule of thumb is to wager no more than 1% to 2% of your total bankroll per hand. This will help you avoid making emotional decisions and potentially costly mistakes.