Blackjack is a game of cards played in a casino setting by two or more players. Players are dealt two cards each and must decide whether to’stay’ or ‘draw’ more cards based on the value of their hand. A player’s goal is to end the game with a total higher than that of the dealer without going over 21 (known as busting). Some players use strategy charts to help them make good decisions, while others employ techniques such as card counting or team play in attempts to beat the house edge and make the game more profitable for themselves. The rules of blackjack vary from casino to casino, but most casinos offer a version of the game that is relatively straightforward to understand. The game is played with one to eight standard 52-card decks. Number cards have a point value, face cards are worth 10 points, and the Ace can be either 1 or 11. Players place their bets on the table and, once all bets are placed, the dealer will deal two cards to each player and himself. If a player’s first two cards are an Ace and a ten-card, then they have a natural, or blackjack, and are paid one and a half times their original bet. Basic strategy is a set of rules that has been developed by researchers to maximise winning hands and minimise losing hands. It’s based on millions of blackjack simulations and is designed to be used as a guide for making the right decision in any given situation. Many experienced blackjack players will consult a strategy chart as they play, and this guide will tell them what action to take in each situation. Many blackjack players attempt to decrease the house edge by using strategies such as the Martingale System, which involves increasing your bet size after every loss until you have a win. However, this technique can quickly eat into your bankroll and is not recommended unless you have a large amount of money to risk. Another common strategy is to use progressive betting increases, which involve doubling your bet each time you lose until you win. Casinos have been increasing their house edges by lowering the payout on blackjacks from 3 to 2 to 6 to 5. This isn’t an ideal situation for players, but it can be mitigated by only playing at casinos that do not implement this rule. Often, experienced blackjack players will make secondary bets to increase their payouts and odds of winning. Doubling down on a strong starting hand, such as a hard 11, is an excellent opportunity to increase your chances of success, but should only be done when the dealer has a weak showing on his upcard. Another good blackjack strategy is to never buy insurance, which is offered by the casino against the player’s blackjack. This side bet is a big money maker for casinos, but it’s also a bad bet for players, as the odds of getting a blackjack are so low that paying for insurance will usually cause you to lose more money than you would have otherwise won.