Blackjack offers casino gamblers some of the best odds in the casino, especially if you’re a blackjack player who understands the game’s strategy. Blackjack players who win more than they lose combine an understanding of statistics with betting strategy and card counting to turn this classic casino table game into a profitable evening of entertainment.

Besides rigorous practice and experience playing blackjack, there are some things you can do to increase your profitability at the blackjack table. Follow these eight tips and you will be well on your way to winning at the blackjack table.

1. Memorize Basic Blackjack Strategy

Casinos sell strategy cards in the gift shop, but if you don’t want to shell out a couple of bucks, there are endless blackjack strategy charts you can find for free online. Do a little research and look for a chart that you like, one that is put together by a reputable source and that you find easy to read.

Now memorize that strategy chart. These charts offer the mathematically best possible play for any blackjack game situation. You can look at any combination of your point total and the dealer’s upcard, and these strategy charts will tell you the play that offers the best percentage chance to win.

2. Don’t Fall for Betting Strategies

It is smart to form your own betting style. This means figuring out how much you can afford to gamble and when you increase and decrease your wagers. This kind of betting strategy is smart.

The betting strategies that you should ignore use your past performance to determine how you should bet. These strategies circulate in email spam and on gambling forums online, and indicate that increasing and decreasing your bets based on a win or a loss will mean you never lose at the blackjack table. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you ignore betting strategies that break the basic laws of gambling math. The cards don’t know if you’ve just lost or just won, so determining your wager based on past wins and losses is downright foolish.

On the other hand, if you can count cards, you’ll be raising and lowering your bets based on whether or not you have an advantage. In that case, you are affecting your potential win rate or loss rate by raising or lowering your bet sizes.

3. Learn the Rules of the Game

We’re not just talking about the basic game play rules for blackjack—every time you approach a blackjack table you should make sure you know the rules of the table. Some blackjack games offer small rule changes and tweaks to alter the way the game works, so familiarize yourself with the most popular rule variations before you hit the blackjack tables in Vegas.

An example of rule variations: outside of Atlantic City, some blackjack games offer a 6-5 payoff on  a blackjack, instead of the more common 3-2 payoff. The 6-5 payoff is a much better deal for the casino. If you see a 6:5 payoff table, avoid it at all costs.

4. Have Confidence

Confidence is important in most life situations: going on a date, handling a job interview, and placing bets at a casino. The dealer in a game of blackjack is limited by the dealer’s rules. You aren’t limited, which gives you a definite advantage over the casino. This advantage should give you confidence, which should, in turn, mean better decision-making.

5. Study Card Counting

Card counting is the best legal way to gain a big advantage over the House. Card counting is completely legal, and though it requires a lot of study and practice, it turns the game of blackjack into a positive expectation game, meaning card counters actually have the edge over the casino.

Counting cards is nothing more than a way to figure out how much or how little to wager. Card counters keep track of how many different valued cards are in the shoe and how many have already been played, and place bets based on the quality of the shoe. Card counters say that anyone can learn the most basic card counting method and put it in practice at the blackjack table with about 40 hours of training and practice. Those 40 hours could mean hundreds of dollars for your blackjack bankroll.

6. Study, Study, Study

Make sure the books on blackjack that you choose to read are written by people who know what they’re talking about. You can buy eBooks about blackjack online for 99 cents, but most of the time you’re going to get bad information or details on blackjack you could find for free elsewhere.

There are two books that every student of blackjack should read and learn from: Blackjack Secrets by Stanford Wong and Blackjack: The Real Deal by J. Phillip Vogel.  Stanford Wong is famous because one of his techniques is specifically banned in most casinos (the mid-shoe entry), while J. Phillip Vogel is pretty much a regular Joe who found success playing blackjack. Both are excellent for people new to the game or those who have the basic rules and strategy down but want a little extra help.

7. Don’t Get Drunk

Casinos are known to ply gamblers with free drinks, and most people associate casino gambling with getting drunk. But numbing your mind with spirits or drugs will make you a worse blackjack player.

Online gamblers, with easy access to their personal stash and liquor cabinet, have proven this to be true. And if you’ve ever been on a little hot streak at the blackjack table, you know how quickly a free whiskey sour shows up at your elbow. Casinos do this for a reason–they want you a few drinks in to a bender, so your gambling instincts are slowed and you give some of that money back.

You can always hit the bar after a successful gambling session, so if you feel like it’s time to tie one on, cash in and stay away from the blackjack table.

8. Watch Your Bankroll

Part of knowing when to quit is preparing some bankroll strategy before you hit the casino. Set aside a certain amount for gambling, and when you’ve hit your maximum losses or maximum winnings, step away from the table. All gambling sessions have peaks and valley, so make sure and build in a certain amount of flexibility to your bankroll, but don’t let it be so flexible that you lose your shirt.

A blackjack player who follows all eight of these hints should find themselves winning more often at the blackjack table than a gambler who doesn’t. There is a huge advantage in learning basic blackjack strategy, keeping a running card count in your head, so follow the eight guidelines above and turn your blackjack gaming into a more profitable enterprise.