# How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the few casino games where the house has a statistical advantage over players, but there are strategies that can reduce this edge. These strategies include basic strategy, card counting, and shuffle tracking. While these techniques can seem intimidating to a newcomer to blackjack, they are actually very simple to learn and apply. By using these strategies, you can reduce the house edge to a fraction of its actual amount.

The first step in learning how to play blackjack is to familiarize yourself with the game rules and the odds of winning. Then, you can start to develop a system that will allow you to win more hands and make the most of your time at the table.

There are many resources on the internet that can help you learn how to play blackjack. These can range from free online guides to blackjack strategy charts that display the correct action for each combination of a player’s hand and the dealer’s visible card. These charts can be printed and taken to a casino, where you can use them right at the table.

A good starting point is the basic strategy chart, which shows the player when to hit and when to stand based on the cards in their hand and the dealer’s face up card. Almost all casinos offer these charts, and they are often available near the blackjack tables. They are based on mathematical analysis of millions of blackjack hands and can be applied to any game.

Generally speaking, when the dealer is showing a 2, 3, or 4 in his or her upcard, it is a good idea to hit because these are weaker hands that can be improved with additional cards. In contrast, when the dealer is showing a 5, 6, or 7, it is usually better to stand because these are strong hands that cannot be improved with additional cards.

When you have a hand that is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, you will win the round. However, if you bust while the dealer is still drawing cards, your bet will be lost and no money is exchanged.

If you have a total of 21 from the first two cards you are dealt, this is called a blackjack and will pay 3:2 if the dealer does not also have a blackjack. You can also split a pair of 8s or Aces, but you should never split a 10 because this is a poor starting hand.

Advanced players can take the theory of blackjack further by learning how to count cards. This involves keeping a running count of the value of the cards as they are dealt, and raising your bets when the count is positive. To do this, you can practice on a single deck of cards by turning them over one at a time and adding up the values. More advanced players can also keep a true count, which takes the running count and divides it by the number of cards in the shoe to determine an appropriate betting level.