How to Win at Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular game that has been around for more than 70 years. Its popularity stems from a few key elements. First, it is a simple game that has a fixed set of rules. Second, it has a house edge that can be brought down to near zero by following a basic strategy.

To play blackjack, you must purchase chips from the dealer. Once you have chips, you can place your bets in the betting spots on the table. You can use cash to make your bets, but many players prefer to do this with casino chips. This makes it easier to track your bets and to keep the amount of money you spend within a reasonable range.

The dealer will deal each player two cards. After looking at his or her cards, the player must decide whether to hit, stand, or split. The player must also determine whether the dealer has a blackjack or not. If the dealer has a blackjack, all of the players lose the round. If the player has a blackjack, he or she wins the round and gets their original bet back. Otherwise, the hand pushes and both players lose their bets.

It is important to understand the rules of blackjack before you play it. There are several rules that should be followed at all times to increase your chances of winning and minimize the chance that you will lose. Among these rules are never to insure your hand and to always double when you have a hard 11. It is also a good idea to split a pair of eights and aces, although it will cost you an extra bet. Splitting these hands will get rid of a 16 and improve your chances of getting a 21, which is the most profitable hand in blackjack.

If you have a hand that is 17 or higher, it is a good idea to stand instead of hitting. Hitting is a risky move because the dealer could draw an Ace, 2, 3, or 4 which will decrease your odds of winning.

Practice keeping a running count of the cards in the deck while you are playing blackjack. Start with a single deck and turn over all the cards, adding them up as you go. After you have a total, repeat the process until you are able to do it quickly and silently.

It is also a good idea to practice keeping a true count, which takes your running total and divides it by the number of decks in the game. This method of counting is used by professional card counters and gives you an advantage in the game when you bet. The casinos are wise to this technique though, so it is not as effective as the simple running count.