By Henry Tamburin
Think you know blackjack? Try answering this true/false quiz. Give yourself one point for each correct answer. If you get 17-18 points, congratulations because you know your game well. If you get 16 or less points, better bone up before you play.
1. True or False. The edge the casino has in blackjack is the result of players not knowing how to play their hands correctly.
False. The house has a built-in edge because if you bust and the dealer busts in the same round, you lose.
2. True or False. If you are dealt a 10-2 and the dealer shows a 10, and the casino allows you to surrender your hand, you should surrender your 12.
False. You are better off playing out your 12 rather than surrender.
3. True or False. You should always hit a hard 16 when the dealer shows a 10.
False. If your 16 is made up of three or more cards, you should stand.
4. True or False. Bad players at the table will hurt you.
False. How other players play their hands has no effect on your chances of winning or losing at blackjack in the long run. This is a popular misconception amongst players.
5. True or False. Progressive betting systems can overcome the house edge in blackjack.
False. No betting system by itself can alter the house edge against a blackjack player. If anything a progressive betting system that has the player betting more will result in a higher average bet and a greater theoretical loss than just flat betting the same amount on every hand.
6. True or False. The house edge goes up when a casino uses a continuous shuffling machine (CSM).
False. The house edge actually is slightly lower when a continuous shuffling machine is used. The reason is because more tens and aces are dealt on average with a CSM compared to a normally shuffled shoe with a fixed shuffle point. More large cards favor the player which decreases the house edge slightly. However, casinos can deal about 20% more hands per hour with a CSM which results in a higher expected loss for players. This more than compensates for the slightly lower house edge.
7. True or False. A single deck game that pays 6-5 for a blackjack has the same house edge as a 6-deck game dealt from a shoe.
False. Paying only 6-5 on a blackjack increases the house edge about 1.4%. Most 6-deck games have a house edge below 1%.
8. True or False. Because blackjack side bets have high payoffs they are a good bet.
False. Most blackjack side bets like Royal Match,Pair Square, etc, have house edges greater than 2%. Just because the side bet may have an enticing high payoff does not make it a good bet.
9. True or False. In blackjack the odds keep shifting as each card is removed from the shoe.
True. That’s what makes blackjack different than other casinos games. A skilled player that can keep track of the cards that have been played will know when the odds shift in his favor and bet more.
10. True or False. You always win even money when you insure your blackjack hand when the dealer shows an ace.
True. In most casinos the dealer will offer you “even money” before he even looks at his hole card. Most players accept the sure even money. Bad mistake. You are better off declining the even money because in the long run your average win will be greater than even money.
11. True or False. There is never an instance when you should double down an 11 when the dealer shows an ace.
False. In single and double deck games you should double 11 against an ace. Also in 6 and 8 deck games you should double if the dealer hits soft 17.
12. True or False. When the rules specify that the dealer must hit soft 17 the house edge increases about 0.2%.
True. However, your best bet is to play where the rules specify the dealer must stand on all 17’s including soft 17.
13. True or False. Blackjack card counting is illegal.
False. There is nothing illegal in using your head to keep track of cards that have been played at blackjack.
14. True or False. Casinos allow players to use basic strategy cards when they play.
True. Which begs the question, why don’t more players bring the answers with them when they blackjack?
15. True or False.Most slot players are intimidated with blackjack because they are afraid of making a mistake which would cause another player to lose.
True. And that’s unfortunate because the way you play your hand has no long term effect on the odds of other players winning or losing their hand.
16. True of False. You should always press your bets when the dealer is cold.
False. It makes no difference how you bet because you can’t predict that she will stay “cold.”
17. True or False. Always hit an Ace-7 when the dealer shows a 10.
True. A soft 18 just isn’t good enough to stand when the dealer shows a 10. You should hit.
18. True or False. Blackjack is your best casino game.
True. Just by learning the basic playing strategy you can play almost even with the house and by learning a simple card counting system like Speed Count, you will have the edge on your side.
Henry Tamburin has been a respected casino gambling writer for the past 50 years. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide and was editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter. You can read his latest articles on blackjack, video poker, and his personal playing experiences at