Blackjack is a card game that pits your hand against the dealer’s. The goal is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over 21. Other players at the table are of no concern – your hand competes only with the dealer’s. The role of mathematics in blackjack means that a sound strategy can significantly turn the odds in your favor. Blackjack strategies are designed to help you beat the house edge and maximize your profits. They include a combination of betting amounts and the timing of your bets. These strategies can also help you avoid the most common blackjack mistakes. These mistakes can be costly and prevent you from winning big. Many beginners make the mistake of doubling down too often. They think that doubling their bet will increase their chances of getting a high-value card. However, this is not always the case. Rather, you should double down when you have a good chance of getting a high-value card that will bring your total to 20 or 21. Another common mistake is not sizing your bet correctly. This can lead to over-betting or under-betting your chips. This can be especially dangerous in the fast-paced games played at some online casinos. It’s important to size your bet properly so that you can get the most out of your wins and deduct your losses. When playing blackjack, you must be able to make the right decisions under pressure. This requires a clear mind, which is why you should avoid alcohol and play when you’re not tired. It’s also important to stick with a basic strategy and not try to use any gimmicks or hunches to improve your chances of winning. Blackjack is a game of probability, and the best way to increase your odds of winning is to know when to hit or stand. This can be done by studying the dealer’s up-card and making a decision accordingly. You can also practice by keeping a running count in your head. This is the number of cards that have been turned over, minus the aces and face cards. After each player has made their decision, the dealer will draw a card for their own hand. Then the players will be paid out if they have a higher hand-total than the dealer’s. If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, you win. If your hand is equal to the dealer’s, it’s a push and you keep your original wager. Some players will buy insurance when the dealer shows an ace. This is a bad idea and will lose you money in the long run. If the dealer has a ten underneath, they’ll sweep any insurance bets and pay 2 to 1 on the blackjack side bets. Otherwise, the side bets will lose.