Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a game of chance, but you can increase your odds of winning by following some basic strategies. To begin, you need to learn the rules of the game. You should also understand how the dealer’s actions can affect your outcome. You should also know how to handle your bankroll and avoid betting more than you can afford to lose.

Place your bet: Before the cards are dealt, players must place a bet. The minimum and maximum bet amounts are usually displayed on the table. Once you’ve placed your bet, the dealer will deal two cards to each player and one card to themselves. If your hand value is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, you win. If your hand value is higher than 21, you bust and lose the game. If your hand is equal to the dealer’s, you tie.

Hit versus stand: A basic strategy chart tells you when to hit or stand, depending on the starting value of your two cards and the dealer’s upcard. It’s important to memorize a chart and use it as a guide every time you play. Never deviate from the chart based on a hunch or your feelings. Instead, trust the math. Online blackjack trainers can be helpful for drilling basic strategy until it becomes second nature.

Split: Splitting a pair of cards creates two separate hands, each with its own bet amount. It’s typically done when you’re dealt two cards of the same value, such as a pair of aces or two face cards. You can only receive one additional card for each of the new hands.

Double down: Doubling down increases your bet by a factor of 2 but limits the number of additional cards you can receive to 1. This is used when you’re confident that you’ll have a high enough hand value to beat the dealer’s.

Insurance: A side bet you can make when the dealer shows an ace. You pay half of your original bet to place this wager, which pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has blackjack. However, if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you lose your bet and your original wager.

Surrender: In some blackjack games, you can surrender your hand if the dealer has an ace up and has a total of 17 or more. This option is a great way to avoid losing your money if the dealer has a good chance of having blackjack.

Effective bankroll management is vital to long-term success in blackjack. Always set a limit on how much you’re willing to wager per hand, and stick to it. This will help you prevent emotional decisions that can ruin your chances of winning. Aim to bet no more than one to two percent of your total bankroll per hand. This will minimize your risk of losing too much money and keep you from blowing through your entire budget in just a few hands. For more information on this topic, check out Frank Scoblete’s book Beat Blackjack Now!