Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Its appeal lies in its simple rules that are easily understood and have remained unchanged, and its low house edge of less than 1% when players follow the correct strategy. Knowing the rules, avoiding side bets, and using a blackjack strategy chart will help you maximise your winning hands and minimise your losses. The objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a total that exceeds 21 when the dealer doesn’t. Players have several playing options including splitting, doubling down, and hitting and standing. Some casinos also offer a variant of blackjack that pays 3 to 2, which gives the house a slightly elevated edge. Splitting is a great way to make the most of a pair of starting cards, especially if they are of equal value. However, there are some cards that should never be split. These include aces, eights, and nines. It is best to split pairs of twos, threes, and sixes, as well as sevens against a dealer’s two or ace. The dealer will not get a good hand with these cards, so splitting them will increase the chances of you making a winning hand. Hitting is a great way to increase the value of your hand, but only when it is appropriate. When you have a weak hand, such as a 16 or an 11, it is often better to stand and hope that the dealer busts. Otherwise, you will be wasting your money on your original bet and giving the dealer a chance to improve his or her hand. It is important to set your limits before you play blackjack, as this will ensure that you don’t lose more than you can afford to. In addition, it will help you stay focused and avoid distractions from other players at the table. This will help you have a more enjoyable and profitable experience at the game. Counting cards is a useful tool in blackjack, but it is important to understand how many decks are in play before you begin counting. In general, the more decks there are, the harder it is to keep track of the count. However, some people have developed methods of counting cards that work even with multiple decks. The basic counting system is the Hi-Lo method, which is based on the number of face cards in the deck. Once all the players have placed their insurance bets, the dealer will check her hole card (using a special viewing window in the table). If she has a ten underneath, then she has a blackjack and everyone who bought insurance will get paid out 2 to 1. Otherwise, the game continues as usual. The best way to learn the game of blackjack is by practicing with a simulator. You can find a lot of these online and they are a great way to practice your strategy before you head to the casino.