Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer to create a hand that totals as close to 21 as possible. It is a simple game, but it has a lot of variations that you can play. The rules of blackjack have stayed the same since its origins, and the house edge can be brought down to sub-0.5% levels by following a defined strategy.
The first step in playing blackjack is to place your wager. You can do this at the blackjack table, either in person or online, before the dealer passes out cards. All blackjack tables have a minimum and maximum betting limit, and we recommend starting out at the lowest amount possible.
Once you’ve placed your bet, the dealer will deal you two cards face up and one card face down. The goal is to make a hand of cards that add up to 21, or as close as possible, without going bust. You can stand, hit, double down, or surrender. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.
When to double down – Doubling down in blackjack is a great idea when you have two cards that are worth 10 or 11, but could be improved by another card. The added value of a card can increase your odds of hitting 21 or even just beating the dealer’s hand.
Standing – You should always stand on a hand of 17 or higher, especially if the dealer has an Ace showing. You’ll get more money for your hand if you don’t try to improve it by hitting, and it’s unlikely that the next card will change your score much anyway.
Insurance – Insurance in blackjack is rarely taken and is only available if the dealer has an Ace up and you have a blackjack. If you do take it, you’ll be betting $10 to win the dealer’s hand and get back $20 if they don’t have blackjack. The house has a slight advantage with this bet, so it’s usually not a good idea.
Card counting is an advanced technique in blackjack that involves keeping track of the number of cards dealt and their values. You can then deviate from basic strategy to beat the dealer by raising or lowering your bets. This can be a complex process, but it’s worth learning for the long term. There are many books available on this subject, but you can also practice online for free with blackjack games like DraftKings. They offer a variety of blackjack themes, including sports, retro, and your favorite holidays. You can even find a blackjack variant that lets you place side bets on a specific number, such as the “four 20s.” This is a great way to diversify your blackjack experience.