How to Win at Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game played between a player and the dealer. Each player gets dealt two cards, and the objective is to build a hand that totals as close to 21 as possible without going over. Players can hit (request additional cards) or stand (stop drawing) based on the current value of their hand and that of the dealer.

Besides the standard game, there are many other variations of blackjack that use different rules and side bets. These options and bets affect the game’s odds and payouts, so it’s important to understand how they work before you play them.

To improve your chances of winning, you should always follow basic strategy, regardless of the other players’ decisions or how well or badly you have been playing in previous sessions. The card count is a good way to improve your overall strategy, but only as long as you can keep track of the number of decks in play. The cards are shuffled too frequently to be able to count them manually.

It’s also a good idea to know the basic rules of the game, such as when to split and when to double down. Splitting is an option whenever your starting two cards are a pair, such as two nines or two threes. When you split, you place a second bet equal to your original bet and then play each card as a separate hand.

When to hit

To increase your chances of winning, you should always hit when the dealer’s upcard is a 4, 5, 6, or 7. This is one of the most favorable situations in the game and it has a 58% chance of beating the dealer’s hand. On the other hand, hitting is a bad decision when the dealer shows a 10, 8, or a face card. The dealer has a much higher probability of busting, so you’ll end up losing the hand most of the time.

Blackjack side bets

There are a lot of different blackjack side bets that can be made, and they all have varying house edges. Some are based on counting cards, which can help you win by reducing the amount of money you’ll lose to the dealer. The most common side bet is insurance, which is offered by most casinos and protects half of your bet against a dealer’s blackjack. However, other side bets are less popular and can be risky to make. They include betting on getting a pair as your first two cards, wagering that the dealer will make a poker hand with their up-card, and more. Some of these bets can be quite lucrative for card counters, but they come with a few risks that should be considered before you make them.