A Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where the goal is to get as close to 21 as possible without going bust. The dealer gets two cards and then players can hit (ask for another card) or stay (end their turn). Each hand is played according to specific rules and winning hands are paid out at 1:1 odds.

There are many strategies and systems that blackjack players use to maximize their chances of winning. These range from basic betting to counting cards. However, even the most advanced player should always be careful to limit how much they wager per hand. This will allow them to control their losses and keep their bankroll in the black.

The first step in understanding blackjack is knowing the game’s rules. Then, it is important to learn how to play the game with a perfect strategy. This is determined by using probability theory and computer simulations to determine which play is best in each situation. This method can reduce the house edge to a negligible amount, giving the player an advantage over the casino.

A good starting point is to practice with a single deck of cards. Begin by counting each card as it is dealt, adding up the values of each as you go. This is called a running count. Once you have mastered this, move on to keeping a true count, which is more accurate than the running count and can be used to deviate from basic strategy based on how favorable a particular situation is.

In most casinos, blackjack is played with one or more 52-card decks. Each player and the dealer receives two cards. Players may choose to hit (ask for more cards) or stay (end their turn). The dealer follows a set of rules for hitting and staying based on the value of his or her own hand.

A player’s unbusted hand that exceeds the dealer’s is a blackjack, also known as a natural. This is a winning bet of one to one, and the player’s original bet is returned. A tie is a push and the dealer keeps the bet.

When a player’s first two cards are a pair of tens or eights, it is a good idea to split them. This can increase the chances of a strong starting hand and help to avoid losing a lot of money early in the game. A player should never split a pair of fours or nines, as this is not worth the risk.

It is usually best to hit when you have a total of 16 and the dealer has a 10 or an ace. You should only double when you have a total of 11 and the dealer is showing a 9, or when you have a total of 13 and the dealer has a 10. If you have a soft hand, such as a 10-6, it is often best to stand, especially if the dealer has a 10, and to surrender if the table offers this option.