Blackjack is a game of mathematics and chance, but the odds can be tilted in your favor with a little bit of strategy. The key is to avoid making basic mistakes and never play by guessing or basing your decisions on intuition. A good way to do this is by using a blackjack strategy chart, which shows you the best move for every possible combination of your starting hand and the dealer’s card. It may seem complicated, but if you learn how to use it correctly, it can drastically reduce the house edge and make your blackjack games much more profitable.
The strategy chart is a table that shows you the best move for each situation in blackjack, including whether to hit, stand, split or double down. The left column of the chart displays your starting hand, and the right shows the dealer’s card. The numbers on the left-hand side of the table are the value of each card; the higher the number, the more valuable the card is. The chart will tell you if you should hit, stand, double down or surrender. It also indicates the probability of a player getting a specific hand compared to the dealer’s, and it will show you how much money to expect to win if you do make the correct decision.
Many blackjack players attempt to count cards in order to increase their chances of winning. However, this can be quite difficult and time-consuming to learn. If you do decide to try card counting, practice by playing with a single deck of cards and adding up the values as you turn them over. Then, once you have the hang of it, try to keep a true count. This is harder to do than the running count, and it will give you a better idea of how many cards have been dealt.
Some blackjack games have side bets, such as insurance or dealer match. These bets can significantly increase your bankroll, but you should only use them if you’re comfortable with the risk. If you’re new to blackjack, stick with the basic strategy charts and avoid any additional side bets until you gain more experience.
Another important thing to remember is that the rules of blackjack vary between casinos and even from game to game. Some games use a single deck while others use four to eight. The house edge can also be different depending on the type of rules in place. The rules that are most advantageous to the player are those that require the dealer to stand on a soft 17 and limit doubling down to two pairs of sevens or more.
If the player gets a total of 21 from the first two cards, it is called a blackjack. The player wins unless the dealer also has a blackjack, in which case the hand is a push (neither win nor lose). Some blackjack games offer a side bet known as insurance, which can be placed when the dealer’s up-card is an ace.