Blackjack is a game of cards, chance and luck, but it also involves an element of skill. The game has simple rules that have remained the same throughout its history, and it is possible to reduce the house edge to almost zero using specific strategies. It is also a game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and backgrounds. However, some players are prone to making mistakes that can cost them money. Keeping an eye out for these common mistakes can help you avoid them and improve your odds of winning.

The most important factor in determining your chances of winning is understanding the mathematical probability of your hand versus the dealer’s. This can be found by calculating the points value of each card in your hand, then translating that to a percentage. For example, a King is worth 10 points, so if you have two of them in your hand, your score is 20 points.

To maximize your chances of winning, you should always stick to the basic strategy chart, which is based on verifiable data. However, you should also learn about the various options or side bets in blackjack and understand how they affect your odds of winning. One such option is insurance, which allows you to protect half of your bet in the event that the dealer has a blackjack.

Another way to increase your chances of winning is by learning how to count cards. This requires a lot of time and effort, but can be very rewarding. You will need to practice your counting skills until you become proficient, and remember that it won’t happen overnight. Eventually, you will be able to count cards without even thinking about it.

In addition to learning the basics of blackjack, it is important to stay positive and confident during your play. This will help you make better decisions and prevent you from getting discouraged after a losing streak. In addition, maintaining a positive mindset can help you avoid making impulsive decisions that could cost you your money.

The final thing you should know about blackjack is how to calculate your expected value (EV). EV is the amount of money you will win or lose on a particular bet, and it is based on mathematical probabilities and odds. The EV calculation is not only important for blackjack, but it can be used in many casino games and sports betting as well.

The simplest way to calculate your EV is by using a blackjack strategy calculator. This will show you the optimal move for each situation, including double and splitting. It will also warn you when you are about to bust and let you know if the dealer is offering insurance. It is a useful tool to have in your arsenal of blackjack strategies, and it can be found online for free. It can help you save a lot of money in the long run!