Blackjack is a card game that involves a lot of math, strategy and luck. You can improve your odds of winning at this casino classic by learning optimal blackjack strategy, managing your bankroll wisely and playing in the right conditions. In addition, you can boost your odds by avoiding common mistakes like taking insurance, which has a house edge of over 7% and not standing on a hard 17 against the dealer’s six or less.
The basic blackjack playing strategy combines a set of rules that inform you of the best way to play each hand dealt to you when the only information you have is your own cards and the dealer’s upcard. This strategy is mathematically correct and maximises your chance of bagging a big win while minimising the amount you lose.
In blackjack, you should always play your strongest hands and never bet more than your budget allows. The dealer will bust more often than you will, so putting yourself in the position to beat his or her hands is crucial to your chances of victory. This means hitting when your cards add up to 12 or 16 against a dealer’s seven or higher, and standing on a hard 17 or above.
You should also consider doubling down when you’re in the situation where one more card will significantly help your hand. This is often the case when you have an ace and a ten-card, which gives you an automatic 21 in two cards. However, you should not double down on soft 17s, which is a weak hand that will be defeated by the dealer’s ace or ten-card.
Another thing to remember is that you should not increase your bet size if you are losing or if you’re on a winning streak. The odds don’t care about your streak, and you will not gain an advantage by increasing your bet size.
It is also important to play in a casino that offers suitable betting limits for your bankroll and a good variety of blackjack variations. Some blackjack games even feature side bets, which are an opportunity for you to increase your stakes by betting on a specific card appearing on the next deal. If you are a new player, it is best to avoid these bets until you have learned the basics of the game and have a strong grasp on basic strategy. It’s also a good idea to stay clear of alcohol or other mind-altering substances while you play blackjack, as they can interfere with your ability to make smart decisions. Finally, don’t be afraid to leave the table if you’re not having fun or are starting to feel negative emotions, as this will only detract from your enjoyment of the game. Good luck! Dan Grant has been writing about gambling for 15 years and is on a mission to help people bet smarter. He blogs at OJO and hosts The OJO Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter @dangrant.