How to Beat the House Edge in Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game that pits the player against the casino, or dealer. The object of the game is to get a hand value as close to 21 as possible without going over. Each player gets two cards, and then has the option to draw more cards (hit) until they have a total closer to 21 than the dealer’s. The winner is the player with a better hand, or in the case of a tie, the player who placed the bet wins.

Players can also double down or surrender if permitted by the rules of the particular blackjack game they are playing. While these options are generally riskier, they can also increase your chances of winning if you have the correct strategy for the situation. If you’re not sure of the right move for a given situation, consult a blackjack strategy table for guidance. The table will show you the best moves for each type of starting hand and a particular dealer’s upcard.

The most basic blackjack strategy is to stand on a hand of 17 or higher, and not try to improve it by hitting. This will protect you from busting and losing your money to the dealer. The only exception to this rule is if the dealer has an Ace or 10.

Splitting pairs of cards is generally a good idea. It will improve your odds of getting a strong hand, and can help you cut your losses if the dealer has an ace up. This includes splitting pairs of eights, nines, sevens, sixes, and threes. However, don’t split pairs of twos or fours, as these are weak hands.

Some blackjack games offer insurance, which pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. While this can be a good way to increase your bankroll, it’s important to remember that you’ll lose more hands than you win in the long run. If you want to maximize your profits, avoid taking insurance.

One of the most popular ways to gain an edge in blackjack is by counting cards. This involves keeping a running count of the number of high-value cards remaining in the deck, and raising your bets when the count is high. It’s important to practice before you try this strategy in a real casino.

The house has a small advantage in blackjack, but it can be overcome by using the proper strategy and betting more when the count is high. It’s also important to stick with a consistent strategy, and to raise your bets gradually as you win, rather than jumping in headfirst and then betting too much when you’re behind. This will help you to control your losses and end each gaming session in the black.