How to Win at Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games. Its appeal lies primarily in its simplicity and the fact that it is possible to reduce the house edge to less than 1% (rules dependent). Players can improve their chances of winning by learning basic Blackjack strategies, managing their bankroll and staying aware of game variants.

Blackjack rules vary depending on the type of table and casino, but most tables accommodate 7 players and are usually semicircular in shape. Players sit around the table and place their chips in a circle on the table. The dealer stands behind the chip rack and cards, facing away from the players.

Each player starts with two cards. The goal is to beat the dealer’s hand either by getting a higher total than his or hers or by not going over 21. There are several playing options, including splitting pairs, doubling down and hitting.

Keeping a positive mindset is one of the most important factors in blackjack success. The game can be very stressful, and losing streaks are common, but if you can maintain a positive mindset, you will find that it is easier to make sound decisions.

When to hit: The best time to hit is when your cards add up to 11 or lower, because it’s impossible at this point to bust. However, it’s also a good idea to hit when the dealer shows a seven or higher, as this is a good time to get aggressive.

The decision to split: When your starting two cards are a pair, such as two nines or two threes, you can choose to split them. This involves placing a second bet equal to your original wager and then playing each card as a separate hand. It is usually advisable to split aces and eights, but you should also consider splitting nines, sevens, sixes and threes.

How to double down: Doubling down is an option when your initial two cards have a value of 9, 10 or 11, and the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. This strategy allows you to increase your stake and potentially boost your hand’s value. It also takes advantage of the ace’s dual value as 1 or 11, allowing you to improve your hand based on the next card you receive.

When to stand: If your hand is worth 17 or more, it is usually better to stand than to hit. It is more difficult to bust in this situation and you will likely win more money by standing than hitting.

The dealer’s hole card: Once all players who want to buy insurance have placed their bets, the dealer will check her hole card (using a special viewing window in the table). If she has a ten underneath, she has a blackjack and everyone who bought insurance loses their original bet.

If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, she will take everyone’s insurance bets and then play on as usual. This is called a push and everyone wins their original bets.