Blackjack - True or False?

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 fewer points, better bone up before you play.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 that 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.

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 by about 1.4%. Most 6-deck games have a house edge below 1%.

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.

In blackjack, the odds keep shifting as each card is removed from the shoe

True. That’s what makes blackjack different than other casino 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.

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.

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.

When the rules specify that the dealer must hit soft 17 the house edge increases by 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.

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.

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?

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.

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.”

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.

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 https://www.888casino.com/blog/writers/henry-tamburin