How to Win at Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game played between two or more players and a dealer. The object of the game is to build a hand with a higher value than the dealer, without going over 21 (busting). The game can be played with one to eight standard 52-card decks. The number cards (2-10) are worth their face value, and the Ace can be treated as either 1 or 11.

Each player has the option to ask for another card (hit) or stay with the current hand (stand). The dealer then reveals his or her card and the player wins if the player’s hand is closer in value to 21 than the dealer’s. If the dealer’s card is an ace, the player must hit until they are satisfied with their hand or bust.

The player may also choose to split his or her starting hand if it contains a pair, such as two nines or two threes. To split, you place a second bet equal to the original value of your starting hand, and then play each card as a separate hand. Splitting is an excellent strategy in blackjack, as it reduces the house edge by allowing you to play each hand independently of the other.

If your starting hand has a value of 11 or less, it is always wise to hit. This is because it is unlikely that you will bust and, as such, you will gain more value from hitting than standing. In addition, the dealer’s upcard will usually dictate whether it is better to stand or hit.

When you have a hard 11, it is almost always beneficial to double down. This is because it will allow you to make the most of your hand and significantly improve your odds of winning in the long run. Similarly, it is best to split 8s and Aces even though this requires an extra bet.

It is important to practice basic strategy until it becomes second nature and you can make the correct decision for every hand situation based on your cards and the dealer’s upcard. You can use online blackjack trainers to help you learn and perfect the basic strategy. It is also crucial to remember that effective bankroll management is key to long-term success. A good rule of thumb is to never bet more than one to two percent of your total bankroll per hand.

It is also a good idea to avoid progressive betting increases in blackjack. Winning streaks do not change the odds for future hands, and losing streaks are just as likely to continue as winning ones. In the end, you will lose more money on bad hands than you will win on good ones. Ideally, you should stick to the basic strategy and only increase your bet size if you are ahead. This will prevent you from making emotional decisions that can lead to financial ruin.