Basic Blackjack Strategy and Odds

Blackjack is a card game that pits players against the dealer. It is a game of skill, and it is important to understand basic strategy and odds in order to maximize winning hands. Learning about when to hit, stand, double down, or surrender can significantly improve your odds of winning in blackjack. In a world where luck seems to drive many hands, the skills learned from studying blackjack can make all the difference at the table.

Before play begins, the blackjack dealer deals two cards to each player. Then, players can either hit (request more cards) or stand according to a set of predefined rules. In addition, some casinos offer side bets like insurance and surrender.

Once all of the players have made their decisions, the dealer reveals his face-down card. Winning and losing hands are then determined. When a player has a hand that totals 21 on the first two cards, they are awarded a payout. If the dealer also has a blackjack, this is referred to as a tie and the bets are returned without adjustment.

Doubling Down

In blackjack, the goal is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. You can do this by doubling down on your initial bet, which requires you to take another card. You can only do this if you are confident that you won’t bust, which means that your total would be higher than 21 after the additional card is drawn.

Splitting Cards

Sometimes it is beneficial to split certain pairs of cards, especially if the dealer has an Ace or 10 up. This will allow you to create two weaker hands that can potentially beat the dealer. In general, splitting a pair of fours is the best option, while splitting a pair of eights and aces are not recommended.

Standing on a Strong Hand

When you have a strong starting hand, it is generally better to stand than to try and improve it. This is especially true when the dealer has a 10, 7, or an Ace. It is generally best to stand on a hard 17 or higher, regardless of the dealer’s up card.

Buying Insurance

When the dealer has an Ace as his up card, you can buy insurance on your initial bet for one and a half times its value. However, it is not always worth the investment, so be cautious about this option.


Although it is not common, some casinos will allow you to surrender before the dealer reveals his hole card. This allows you to give up your hand and lose half your bet before the dealer checks for a blackjack.