The Basics of Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Its appeal lies in its simple rules that can be understood by anyone, which have remained unchanged since the game’s inception. The game also has a low house edge that can be brought down to sub-0.5% levels if the player follows a defined strategy.

The objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer by drawing a hand value that goes over 21. Players can do this by either getting a natural or causing the dealer to bust. The game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate up to seven players, known as spots. A dealer stands behind the table and chips, observing all the players.

Players can communicate with the dealer by making beckoning motions or touching the table with their finger. They can also signal to the dealer they want another card by scratching the table behind their cards. The dealer will then draw a new card for their hand and reveal it to the players.

Once all the players have made their playing decisions, they must decide whether to hit, split or double down their cards. This is based on the values of their original hand and the dealer’s up card. Most tables offer free blackjack strategy charts that display whether a player should hit, stand or double down for every possible combination of a player’s card and the dealer’s up card. These are usually available at most casinos, even in Las Vegas.

When a player’s initial two cards add up to 11, the player should always hit. This is because the probability of busting is much lower than in any other situation. The exception to hitting is when a player has a soft hand, such as A-5 or a 10-A against the dealer’s 10. In these cases, it is better for the player to stay and hope the draw card improves their hand.

Likewise, the player should stand when they have a strong hand, such as a nine or eight against the dealer’s 10. They can also stick with their original hands when the dealer has a weak showing like a seven or higher.

In the event that a player has a stronger hand than the dealer’s, they win and are paid an amount equal to their original bet. However, if the dealer has a natural and the player does not, they push-in other words they get their original bet back. If a player has a Blackjack and the dealer does not, the player is paid out 6 to 5 or 3 to 2 depending on the variant of blackjack being played.