Blackjack is a game of skill, strategy, and luck. But blind luck will only get you so far, and the house edge is high enough that players should always use a basic strategy to avoid costly mistakes. This will help you maximize your profits and minimize your losses.
The game begins with each player buying chips from the dealer or bringing them from another table. Then the players place their chips in the betting circle or square in front of them. Once everyone has made their bets the cards are dealt, and if the player’s first two cards add up to 21 (an Ace and a card valued at 10) then the hand is a blackjack and the bet pays out 1 to 1.
If the player’s total is less than 21, they can choose to hit, stand, or double down. When a player hits, they ask the dealer for another card in hopes of improving their hand. This is a risky move, however, and the player can lose more than their original bet if they go over 21.
It’s a good idea to stick to the basic strategy chart and not deviate from it based on your feelings or your gut instinct. Using the chart will ensure that you are making the right play in each situation. The best way to remember the strategy is by printing it and keeping it on the table next to you while you play. You can also make flashcards with the different hands and say them out loud while playing, which will help you solidify the proper plays.
Doubling down is an excellent option when you have a strong hand that could be improved by drawing one additional card. This bet essentially doubles your bet amount, and you can only do so when you have a strong hand with a good chance of beating the dealer’s upcard. If you’re holding a total of 11, for example, you should double down against a dealer’s upcard of 5.
Insurance is a side bet that is rarely profitable for the player, and it’s really just a money-maker for casinos. The name “insurance” is a clever marketing ploy, but it’s important to understand that the bet is actually just a losing proposition for most players.
The key to winning at blackjack is to know when to hit, stand, double down, and surrender. The best way to learn this is by using a blackjack strategy table, which will tell you the best play in every situation. It’s a good idea to print the blackjack strategy chart and keep it on the table so you can quickly reference it. It’s also a good idea to use blackjack-specific betting limits, which will prevent you from wagering too much money when you’re on a losing streak. This will prevent you from trying to chase your losses by betting more and more, which is a common mistake that new players make.