The game of blackjack is all about knowing how to respond in different game situations. There are only five player choices – hit, stand, split, surrender, or double down – but it’s crucial to know which of these to options to take in every possible gaming circumstance.
Only in this way can players get advantage of the best possible odds against the house!
To that end, here is a brief true-or-false quiz for aspiring blackjack players.
Keep track of your results to see if you’re ready for the big time!
1)The goal of blackjack is for players to get the point total of their hand as close to 21 as possible.
False! The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer. This can be done by ending with a higher point total than that of the dealer, or by not busting while the dealer busts.
2) Players should expect to win about 50% of hands when playing blackjack.
False. On average, players will win 43% of the time, lose 48%, and tie 9%.
3) The casino gets the house edge because players act first, creating automatic wins for the house whenever players bust.
True! This is the source of the house edge. It is also known as the ‘double bust’ rule.
4) There is a mathematically optimal playing strategy for blackjack.
True, true, so very true.
Though many beginning players fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy, the fact is that optimal play is a science, not an art.
Taking an extended look at our guide to basic strategy, is a great place to start.
5) Weak play from undisciplined players on your table will cause you to lose.
6) The most important card in blackjack is the dealer’s upcard.
True. See question 1 above… the dealer’s upcard informs how a skilled player should proceed.
7) It’s possible to make a living playing blackjack.
True! Though it is hardly a stress-free or easy profession, it’s possible to master the mathematics of the game as well as card counting to such an extent that, over time, the player has a small edge over the house.
8) You should always split a pair of 8s.
Mostly false! You should almost always split a pair of 8s, but there are exceptions…
… for example, when playing against a dealer whose upcard is an ace in double- and multi-deck games where the dealer hits on soft 17 (H17), surrender is the better option.
With that said, splitting 8s is the right play almost all the time, and is a good rule of thumb for beginners.
9) A player who enters a game in the middle of a shoe will change the flow of the subsequent cards that will be dealt, causing you to lose.
False! As in question 5 above, it’s crucial to understand that every new card to be dealt is a random event, independent from what has come before.
Though counting cards puts a somewhat different spin on this fact, cards dealt to players are in fact discrete, random events.
10)Card counting is illegal, and can land you in jail.
False. How could observing and keeping track of what cards come up be illegal?
This doesn’t mean that casinos encourage it! Especially discouraged is the “team” blackjack play on display in movies like “21.”
11)On average, players should expect to be dealt the hand of blackjack once in every 30 hands.
False! Somewhat poetically, the hand of blackjack appears on average once per 21 hands.
12) A basic strategy player will bust about 10% of the time.
False – it’s worse than that! A basic strategy will bust about 16% of the time.
13) The dealer busts about 2 out of every 7 hands.
True. The dealer will bust on approximately 28% of hands, on average.
14) Progressive betting systems are essential to blackjack success.
False. So very false. Advantage play is built on mathematics, consistency, and discipline, not varied bet size.
15) Bringing a strategy card with when you play blackjack is perfectly legal.
True! Not only is it perfectly legal, it is highly recommended. There’s no better way to promote advantage play than having a cheat sheet on hand.
Be forewarned: most casinos won’t actually allow players to put anything on the table itself, so any strategy card will have to go in player’s laps or hands.
16) Always stand with soft 18.
False. Like most truisms, this one is only partially correct. Standing is the right play (at most tables) if the dealer shows a 2, 7, or 8.
If the dealer shows 3-6, it’s time to double down! And if the dealer shows 9, 10, or ace, it’s best to hit.
17) The house edge decreases slightly when a casino uses a continuous shuffling machine (or CSM).
Mostly true. The use of a CSM slightly decreases the house edge because more tens and aces are dealt when compared to normal shuffling.
However a CSM allows casinos to deal as many as 20% more hands per hour, which means more profit for the house than a game with normal shuffling.
It also destroys any deck penetration players may gain when counting cards.
18) A single-deck game in which a blackjack pays 6-5 is one of the worst blackjack games.
True. Any table where blackjack pays 6-5 instead of 3-2 should be avoided like the plague. This rule alone boosts the house edge by 1.4%.
19) Because blackjack side-bets have high-payoff odds, they are a good bet.
False, false, false. Side bets offer players worse odds than the game of blackjack almost 100%.
They should be avoided by all but the most skillful card counters, who may be able to get the best of the house.
20) You should always hit a hard 16 when the dealer’s upcard is a 10.
False. If the player’s 16 is made up of three or more cards, the better choice is to stand.
21) Blackjack is the best casino game to play.
True. There’s a reason this game is so popular – unlike any other casino offering, the combination of skill and making good decisions about which tables to play at can reduce the house edge to less than one half of a percent!
This gives players far, far better odds than at any other table game. And with card counting, the house edge can be reduced even further.
OK, pencils down!
How did you do?
If your score was below 17, we suggest revisiting our strategy guide before hitting the tables.
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