Blackjack is the most popular casino game, and it requires a great deal of skill. The rules of the game are simple, but knowing how to play it well is key to winning.

The goal of playing blackjack is to make a hand that totals as close to 21 as possible without going over, while avoiding busting. Cards numbered 2-10 are worth their printed values, while face cards and aces count as 1 or 11.

Several variations of the game exist at different casinos; some of these can significantly increase or decrease your odds of winning. Some of these variations include early surrender, resplitting Aces, and double-down restrictions.

#### Early Surrender

If you have a poor hand and don’t want to risk losing it, you can surrender half of your wager before the dealer checks for blackjack. This is an excellent strategy because it allows you to avoid a bad hand, while keeping your money.

#### Resplitting Aces

Usually, a player should not split a hand with an Ace, because it has the highest probability of busting. However, a player should resplit an Ace if he has two eight-valued cards and wants to play them as two separate hands.

#### Insurance Bets

If a player’s first two cards are a ten or an ace, he can take an insurance bet on the dealer’s first card. This bet loses less than 1% of the time, and it only increases the house edge about 1.4%.

Players can also increase their starting bets when they have an advantage, such as if there are many aces and tens in the deck. This increases the player’s odds of getting a blackjack, which is the best hand in the game.

#### Tournaments

Blackjack is often played in tournament form, with the top chip holders at each table advancing to the next round. During each round, players receive an equal number of chips; their goal is to finish among the top chip holders in the final round.

#### Basic Strategy

The best blackjack strategy is based on mathematical models of the game’s probabilities and statistics. These are called “blackjack charts” and they tell you exactly what to do for every possible combination of a player’s hand and the dealer’s card.

These charts are much easier to remember than perfect strategy, and they can turn the tables in your favor! Using these charts, you can be sure that you’re making the right decision for any situation.

Although the house edge in blackjack is a little higher than in other games, it’s still low enough to make it one of the most profitable games to play. Using the proper strategy can reduce your chances of losing to nearly 8%, which is significantly better than the house’s average margin.

The Best Way to Play Blackjack