Learning How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a game of chance, strategy and bankroll management. It is played using one or more 52-card decks. Each card has a value of one, ten or an ace. The goal of the game is to accumulate cards that total as close to 21 as possible without going over. The player and dealer each get two cards. They must stand (stop drawing cards) or draw (request more cards) based on a set of rules.

Basic Strategy

Blackjack players can reduce the house advantage to a fraction of its usual size by learning basic blackjack strategy. This strategy determines when to hit, stand or double down and how much to wager. It also teaches players how to count the dealer’s visible card, which is called the “true count.”

Practice Your Count

A good way to learn your counting system is by practicing on a single deck of cards. Start by turning over one card at a time, adding up its value as you go. Continue practicing until you are able to keep your count quietly and quickly. Once you are able to do this, you can switch to a different deck and practice again.

Playing Blackjack with a Friend

If you are new to blackjack, it can be helpful to play with a friend who has experience playing the game. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and help you avoid making mistakes. You can also ask the dealer for advice if you are not sure of what to do.

Keeping Your Card Count

When you first start playing blackjack, it is important to keep track of the value of your cards. This is referred to as your running count and it can help you avoid over-bets by giving you an idea of the house edge.

You can keep your count in several ways, including a hi-low system, where you divide the face up cards into groups of high and low values. The higher the value, the greater your odds of winning.

A running count is best for learning how to play blackjack, because it helps you avoid over-bets. You should also practice with a small amount of money to see how many hands you can win.

Early Surrender

When the dealer has a card that is showing that is not an Ace, you can take half of your original bet and surrender it. This is a great option when you have a strong hand that is likely to bust but do not want to risk all of your money.

Splitting Hands

If you have two of the same cards, you can split them and play them as separate hands with two separate bets. Some casinos restrict this, but you can usually get away with it.

Insurance Bets

In the event that a dealer’s down card has a value of 10 and you have not already hit, you may make an insurance bet in which you lose your original bet but win half of your second bet. This is a great way to increase your chances of winning and is an excellent alternative to hitting when the dealer’s upcard is a 6 or lower.