Blackjack is a game that requires skill, luck and basic strategy to win. Players make a bet and the dealer deals two cards to each player and two to himself (1 card face up, 1 card face down). The player can then decide to hit, stand, double down or split his/her hands. Players win when their hand total is higher than the dealer’s and they lose when their hand goes over 21 or the dealer has a better hand. Side bets (insurance and surrender) are also available in some games.
Using a blackjack strategy chart is one of the best ways to improve your chances of winning. These charts help you to determine the correct play for your specific starting hand, taking into account the dealer’s upcard. These charts are based on millions of Blackjack hands that were simulated with the goal to identify optimal playing decisions. This process was done by US Army engineers and has since been refined by mathematicians.
When to hit
It’s a good idea to hit when your starting cards add up to 11 or less, as it will be impossible for you to bust at that point. You should also consider hitting when the dealer shows a face card or an Ace, as this will increase your chances of making a good hand.
When to double down
Doubling down is a great way to improve your odds of winning by increasing your bet by up to 2 times the original stake. This can be a risky move, however, so it’s important to know when to do it and when not to. For example, you should always double down when you have a hard 11 against a dealer’s non-Ace, but it’s not a good idea to double down on a soft 18 against a dealer’s 5 or 6.
When to split
Splitting is an important part of blackjack and can help you to make more money in the long run. You should always split aces and eights, and you should also consider splitting nines, sevens, sixes and threes if the dealer is showing between a two and a six.
It’s also a good idea to stay within your bankroll when you’re playing blackjack. If you’re not, you may end up losing a lot of money in a short amount of time. To avoid this, it’s important to set a budget before you begin playing and stick to it. You can do this by considering the buy-in and bet limits of the blackjack tables you’re planning on joining and how many hands per hour the table plays. You can then use a blackjack calculator to see how much you can expect to win or lose at each table. You should also consider the house edge and minimum and maximum bets to create a budget for your game. This will help you to avoid committing any of the biggest mistakes in blackjack.