# Using a Counting System to Increase Your Edge in Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game that pits you against the dealer. The object of the game is to build a hand with cards of value as close to 21 as possible without going over. In order to maximize your chances of winning, you need to have a solid basic strategy in place. To do this, you must understand the odds and use a counting system to make smart decisions.

One of the most common mistakes that beginners make is to play with poor math skills or to simply rely on gut instinct. This is a major error, as blackjack is a mathematical game that requires you to think clearly. It’s also a good idea to avoid playing after consuming alcohol or before sleeping, as this can affect your decision-making abilities.

Using a counting system is essential to increase your edge over the casino, but there are many different methods. The most popular is the Hi-Lo method, which assigns point values to each card in a deck. This count can help you determine if the next card is likely to be a ten or face, which will help you decide whether to hit or stand. Keeping a running total will let you know how much to bet. It’s important to practice so you can keep the count quickly and quietly. If you can’t keep a running total, you should try practicing with a single deck of cards and turning over each card as it appears. Then, you’ll need to add up the value of each card.

Some players may be tempted to look at blackjack charts while they’re playing, but this can be distracting for the other players. In addition, the charts can be overwhelming to learn. A better way to improve your game is to start with a simple rules set, which can be memorized in a few minutes. This will help you make the right decisions based on the cards you have and the dealer’s upcard. While this won’t be a perfect strategy, it will still give you a significant advantage over the dealer.

Another way to increase your edge is to learn a strategy that takes into account the type of blackjack being played. For example, if you are playing at a table where the dealer hits on soft 17, you should practice with a blackjack strategy chart that reflects this rule. You can also find a blackjack strategy app that can show you the best plays for each situation.

If you’re interested in becoming a blackjack dealer, you should enroll in a training program to learn the basics of the game. These programs often last eight to 12 weeks and offer hands-on experience. The pay for this career is competitive and you can work in a fun environment. In addition, you can get paid in shifts, which makes this a great option for people who want to travel. In most cases, a high school diploma is enough to gain entry into a blackjack dealer training course.