Blackjack is one of the most beloved casino table games, offering an attractive house edge of under 2% when played using basic strategy. Furthermore, it can be learned in relatively little time; to master it effectively however, players need to understand its fundamentals as well as any specific rules that pertain to each game they are playing.

Aiming to beat the dealer, the goal of blackjack is simple – get 21 on your first two cards or beat their hand value with better value than they do. Achieve this and you are paid 3:2 while if a tie occurs you are given equal odds.

Blackjack takes place on a semicircular table that can seat five to seven players at one time. Before beginning to play, it is crucial that you find an open seat (without chips or coats in its place) at any table which doesn’t already contain one person (unless there are chips or coats present that hold that seat ). While ideally it would be preferable if you played on your own blackjack table as often as possible; joining an already underway game is acceptable as long as you can watch cards being dealt and do not interfere with other players or disrupt gameplay.

Once all players have placed bets, the dealer will hand each one two face up cards. Each player may then decide whether to hit for more cards (hitting), stand and keep their current hand or surrender. When dealing with upcards of 6 or higher (such as 6, 7 or 8) it is generally recommended that hitting should occur; when dealing with 2-10 upcards standing is usually best advised.

At a blackjack table, a dealer draws cards until their hand reaches 17 or higher. If their hand is closer to 21 than that of their opponent’s hand, then the latter wins; otherwise, if closer to 20 than 21, then the former does.

To reduce the house edge and increase chances of outwitting the dealer, a player must understand when to hit, stand, double down or split – this requires having a deep knowledge of both game rules and of odds related to every situation.

Doubling down is an advantageous strategy wherein players double their initial bet after seeing their first two cards and receive an additional card from the dealer. This move can be very profitable when your hand has a high value; generally speaking, double down should only be done when your hand value falls between 11 and 10, and when their upcard from the dealer ranges between 2-10.

To further their odds, players can employ counting systems to monitor the remaining high and low cards in the deck. One popular system is Hi-Lo counting; others assign various point values for cards in different ways. By tracking this information, a player can then calculate both running count and true count to predict whether their hand has an edge over that of the dealer’s hand.