There’s a right way to play every hand of Blackjack. People used computers to figure it out over 50 years ago; today, you can find these “basic” Blackjack strategies all over the place – you can even buy a strategy card at the casino and bring it with you to the table. But these strategies need to be tweaked depending on which blackjack game you’re playing. How many decks are in the shoe? Does the Dealer hit or stand on soft 17? These and other situations have to be accounted for if you’re going to make the perfect play every time.

Or you could memorize a simpler strategy that will be perfect most of the time. If you’re relatively new to Blackjack, you can get most of the way there with a near-optimal strategy, and it’ll help prevent you from making costly mistakes trying to implement a more complex game plan. Let’s focus on the two most common decisions you’ll make at the table: hitting and standing.

When to Hit or Stand in Blackjack

A lot of the decisions you make in blackjack will depend on the Dealer’s up-card. But we can simplify things by taking certain actions no matter what that up-card is. For example, if you’re holding something worse than hard 8 or soft 15, you should hit every time. If you’ve got something better than hard 17 or soft 19, you should stand.

The stuff in between gets a little more complicated. Now we have to consider the Dealer’s up-card, but we can divide those cards into low (Deuce through Six) and high (Seven through Ace) categories. Low up-cards are very good for you, because they force the Dealer to draw at least two cards, making it more likely for her to go bust. Stand if you’re holding anything between hard 12 to hard 16 inclusive and the Dealer shows a low up-card. Hit instead if you have soft 13 through soft 15.

A high up-card is much less valuable to you. If the Dealer shows one of these cards, go ahead and hit when you’ve got something between hard 12 and hard 16. You can hit on hard 9 as well. For the soft hands, hit with anything worse than soft 19. There are a few hands this simple strategy doesn’t cover; doubling on 10 or 11 and splitting certain pairs is important and easily learned. But if you can get these plays down pat, you’ll hold your own at the blackjack table with minimal brain power required.