Blackjack is in many ways the smart player’s game in a casino, either online or off. While there are elements of strategy to any casino game you might play, the level of effectiveness of proper strategy is more pronounced in blackjack. Don’t mistake this for meaning that you can ensure victory by playing blackjack properly, but if you’ve been checking out for new casinos, you can take a more comfortable step into playing blackjack simply by knowing a few details that aren’t widely advertised. Most importantly, you can knock a few points off the casino’s edge, which is essential for successful casino play.

We can’t go through all of the points of blackjack strategy here – there are so many different eventualities that can arise in a game that it would take pages and pages to contain and days to write. What we can do is indicate that there are charts freely available online that contain all of the eventualities that can happen, and inform you what to do in each situation. You don’t even need to visit a site to find them – they’ll come up as Image search results if you search for “Blackjack Strategy Chart”. And they’re completely legal, too – most casinos have these charts by the blackjack table for players to study because, after all, they don’t guarantee victory.

When should you definitely Stand?

There are certain hands in online blackjack when standing is the only smart choice, and the key is to remember the difference between hard and soft hands. If you have a hard 17 – that’s any 17 without an Ace – or higher, then you should always stand. You could still be beaten if you’re holding this, but the chances of that are lower than you going bust if you hit. You should also Stand on soft 20, because the only way you’ll better that is to draw another Ace, which is highly unlikely. You should almost certainly Stand on soft 19, too – the only reason not to is if you can double instead and the dealer is showing 6.

When should you definitely Hit?

The situations when you should Hit in blackjack are those when you have a low-scoring hand which isn’t conducive to doubling down. For hands without an Ace, you should always hit on 8 or anything lower, regardless of what the dealer is showing. If you have 9, you should double down if the dealer card is between 3 and 6. If you have 10, you should double unless the dealer is showing 10 or an Ace, in which case you should Hit. With a soft total – unless it is 12 (A,A) – the picture is more complex, and you should consult a chart. If it is Soft 12, then you Hit.

When do you Split pairs?

Famously, you split Aces and 8s. Always. No matter what the dealer is showing, these pairs are always split. 16 isn’t strong enough to win on its own, but hitting risks a bust, while starting two new hands with an Ace each offers a good chance to win twice (and 2, 12 and 22 are useless for various reasons). You should never split 10s, because your chances of losing twice are substantially greater than the chance that the dealer can beat 20. Splitting 5s is also right out, as no good hand starts with a 5, but a total of 10 offers several ways to win. For any other pair, consult a chart.