Blackjack is a card game that pits players against the dealer. Each player gets two cards and can then decide whether to ask for another card (hit) or stick with their current hand (stand). The aim of the game is to get a value close to 21 without going over.

The game was created in the 1950s and was devised by four US Army engineers. It was later refined with the help of computers, and millions of blackjack hands were simulated to determine optimal playing strategy. The result was a table which shows the best play in each situation.

Using this blackjack strategy chart will help you avoid common mistakes and maximize your chances of winning. You can learn a lot by studying it in detail and by practicing the different situations in the chart. It can be confusing to understand at first, but once you’ve memorized the basic rules, it will become much easier to use.

Aside from the obvious objective of beating the dealer, blackjack has a number of side bets that can increase your winning opportunities. These include insurance bets, double down bets and surrender bets. However, players must know when to make these bets and not fall into the trap of thinking they are a sure way to win.

Each blackjack variant has its own rules and side bets. It is important to study these before you start playing. For example, some casinos restrict the cards that can be split or only allow one double down after a split. It’s also important to note that some side bets aren’t available at all in certain blackjack games.

As with any casino game, it’s possible to reduce the house edge by counting cards. Counting can be difficult to master, so it’s important to practice beforehand. A simple way to practice is by using a single deck and adding up the values of each card as you turn them over. A more advanced method is to keep a true count, which involves taking the running total and multiplying it by the number of decks in play.

The best times to hit in blackjack are when your cards add up to 11 or less. It is also a good idea to hit when the dealer’s face up card is a six or higher. This is because it is very unlikely that you’ll bust and will give you a better chance of beating the dealer.

You should stand on a hard 17, or more, if the dealer has an ace or 10. It is riskier to improve your hand and you may lose to the dealer’s blackjack.

It’s important to remember that the dealer can beat you even if your cards are equal in value. This is why it’s crucial to learn the rules of blackjack before you play for real money. If you’re not ready to put in the time, it’s best to stay away from this game. There are plenty of other casino games to choose from.