#### The Basics of Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer to make the best hand. The goal is to get a card value of 21 or higher from the first two cards you are dealt, resulting in a win. If the player and dealer have the same hand, it is called a push or tie and the bet is returned to the player. The game has many variations, but the basic strategy remains the same for all of them. The rules of the game are simple and are based on mathematics. Statistical analysis shows that for every possible combination of a player’s cards and the dealer’s card there is one play (hit, stand, split, double down, etc) that has the highest probability of winning.

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. Each player has the choice to ask for more cards (hit) or keep their current hand (stand). When a player hits, they must continue hitting until they are satisfied with their hand or go over 21 and bust. The dealer must hit until they have at least a total of 17.

If the dealer has an Ace, he or she must take Insurance bets. These side bets pay 2 to 1 if the dealer has blackjack. They are offered by most casinos and they can increase a player’s edge at the table, but they should be avoided by players who follow a sound blackjack strategy.

Some players may choose to double down if they have an 11 or better from the first two cards they are dealt. This is a great way to improve a hand, but it requires an extra bet. It is also important to know when to stand and not to hit. It is often better to stick with a 17 than to try and improve it, especially if the dealer is showing an Ace or 10.

Another aspect of the game that many players don’t consider is splitting. This is an excellent way to improve a weak hand. It is usually better to split aces and 8s than to split fives or faces. It is also good to split 8s against a dealer’s 6 or 7.

Lastly, it is always better to double down on a hard 11, made from the first two cards you are dealt. This is a great way for players to improve their odds of winning a hand and can increase the amount of money they win.

Some players may have a streak of bad hands and think that they are due for a win. However, the odds of winning or losing don’t change just because you have a streak. You should never alter your strategy after a bad streak, but instead stick with your basic strategy.