The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino game with simple rules that are easy to learn and remain the same anywhere you play. The popularity of this game is mostly due to two elements: its simplicity and its low house edge, which can be even lower if you use certain strategies. If you want to play blackjack well, you must master the basic strategy and know when to use it.

When you play blackjack, your goal is to beat the dealer. There are many misconceptions about what this means, but at its simplest level you must beat the dealer by having a hand value that is closer to 21 than theirs. This can be achieved by hitting a card value that is higher than the dealer’s or by splitting your first two cards when appropriate.

Before you begin playing, you should set a budget for your blackjack session and predetermine the amount of money you’re willing to risk per hand. This will prevent you from losing more than your original stake and should allow you to end the session in profit. It’s generally recommended to wager no more than one or two percent of your total bankroll per hand.

Once you’ve established your budget, you can then select a seat at a blackjack table. If there’s an empty seat, you can assume it’s yours (unless chips or a coat are holding it for someone who just left for a moment). If the table has a “No-Midshoe Entry” policy, however, you must wait until the shuffle before you can join in.

In addition to betting on your own hand, you can also make side bets such as insurance and surrender. These bets are typically made by placing a small additional bet on the hand, which is paid out if the dealer has a blackjack. However, this bet also increases the house edge of the game significantly, so it should be avoided unless you’re in the mood to take more risk.

The basic rules of blackjack include standing on a hard 17 or higher, hitting when the dealer’s face-up card is a 9, and splitting aces and eights. Players should never hit a pair of threes or sevens and only double down on 11 if the dealer has a 10. The most important thing to remember is that you’re playing against the dealer, not the other players at the table. Staying focused and calm will help you make the best decisions.

If you’re a beginner, the best way to practice your strategy is by playing free online blackjack games. These blackjack games can be played on any device and are free to use. You can also sign up for a casino account and practice your strategy while playing for real money. Once you have mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced strategies such as counting cards and splitting. These methods will help you win more hands and maximize your profits.