How to Use Card Counting in Blackjack

Blackjack is a game of skill that can be played by two or more players. The goal is to beat the dealer by getting a higher hand total than theirs without going over 21. The game is usually played with one to eight 52-card decks and the cards have values of 2 through 10, with jacks, queens and kings scoring 10 points and aces count as either 1 or 11.

Before dealing the cards, players place bets on the table. After each player has placed their bet, the dealer deals two cards to each player and himself, with the exception of the dealer’s two cards which are dealt face down. The dealer then peeks at his card to see if he has a blackjack.

Once the cards have been dealt, players must decide whether to hit or stand. Hitting means taking another card in an attempt to get closer to 21, while standing means sticking with your current hand. Statistically speaking, the best time to hit is when your two cards add up to 11 or less. This is because it is virtually impossible to bust at this point, and hitting will improve your chances of getting a more valuable card.

Double downing is a good option when you have a strong hand and the dealer has a weak one, such as a six or five. However, there are also some situations when it makes more sense to stay instead of hitting, such as when you have a pair of nines or sevens against a dealer’s three.

While card counting is an effective strategy in blackjack, it’s not easy to master and should only be used if you have the patience for it. The main concept of counting is to keep track of the number of high cards that have been dealt versus low cards, and then make decisions based on this information. To do this, you must keep a running count and a true count. The running count is simply the number of high cards minus the number of low ones, while the true count takes into account how many decks are remaining in the shoe.

The playing decisions of other players at your blackjack table don’t have any impact on your odds of winning, according to expert Frank Scoblete. In fact, they may even increase your chances of losing. So, if you see other players at your table increasing their bets, just smile and stick to basic blackjack strategy.

While there are some exceptions to the rules of blackjack, there are some fundamental rules that should never be broken. Generally, you should always stand on a hand of 17 or higher and hit on a hand of 11 or lower, regardless of what the dealer is showing. This is because it’s your only chance to beat the dealer. In the past, some casinos offered bonuses if you had certain hands, such as a jack of spades and an ace, which earned the game its nickname – “blackjack.” Unfortunately, these bonuses no longer exist, but the basic rules remain.