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Blackjack quiz

18 May 2010

Blackjack offers some of the best odds in the casino for those who take the time to learn basic strategy. But not all blackjack games are created equal. Casinos choose among a mix-and-match set of rules, some favorable to the player, some padding the house advantage.

In this blackjack quiz, let's take a look at some the hows and whys of blackjack:

1. The house has an edge in blackjack because:

  1. Dealer's rules for hitting and standing favor the house.
  2. The player finishes his hand before the dealer.
  3. Player options are designed to give the house an edge.

2. A soft hand is:

  1. A hand in which an ace is being counted as 11.
  2. Any hand that includes an ace.
  3. A hand of exactly 17, with a soft chance of winning only if the dealer busts.

3. Insurance is:

  1. A commission paid to guarantee a win.
  2. A side bet that the dealer can't beat your 20.
  3. A wager that the dealer has blackjack.

4. The "even money" form of insurance, insuring blackjacks:

  1. Favors the player.
  2. Favors the house.
  3. Is an even bet.

5. With "bust cards" such as a 6 as the initial face-up card, the dealer:

  1. Busts more than 70% of the time.
  2. Busts more than half the time.
  3. Makes 17 or better more often than he busts.

6. The player is better off when:

  1. The dealer hits soft 17.
  2. The dealer stands on all 17s.
  3. It makes no difference.

7. Single-deck blackjack games:

  1. Always have lower house edges than six-deck games.
  2. Have lower house edges than six-deck games if other rules are equal.
  3. Have the same house edge as six-deck games.

8. Of the following rules, the one toughest on players is:

  1. Blackjacks pay 6-5 instead of 3-2.
  2. Dealer hits soft 17.
  3. Six decks instead of one.

ANSWERS:

1. B. The house has an edge in blackjack because players complete their hands first, and have first chance to go bust. A player who busts with a total of more than 21 loses even if the dealer later busts.

2. A. A soft hand counts an ace as 11. An ace-6, or ace-2-4, or ace-ace-5 or several other combinations are soft 17. They're "soft" because they can't be busted with a one-card hit. If you draw a 10 to your soft 17, you don't bust with 27. You just count the ace as one, leaving you with a hard 17.

3. C. Insurance is a wager that the dealer has blackjack. It is offered only when the dealer has an ace face up. If the dealer then has a 10-value card face down for a blackjack, insurance wagers are paid at 3-2 odds.

4. B. The even money form of insurance favors the house, unless you're counting cards and know that more than a third of the cards remaining are 10 values. If you have a blackjack and the dealer has an ace face up, you may ask for even money and the dealer will pay you on your bet. If you bet $10, you'll get paid $10, but you give up a chance at a $15 payoff if the dealer doesn't have blackjack. There would be no house edge if a third of the cards were 10-values. But only 30.8% are 10 values, so taking even money gives the house an extra edge.

5. C. With so-called "bust cards," the dealer makes 17 or better more often than he busts. Even starting with a 5 or 6 face up, the dealer busts only 42% of the time.

6. B. The player is better off when the dealer stands on all 17s. When the dealer hits soft 17, he has a chance to improve a so-so hand, and can't bust with a one-card hit. Hitting soft 17 adds about two-tenths of a percent to the house edge.

7. B. Single-deck games have lower house edges than six-deck games if other rules are equal. However, a single-deck game loaded with negative rules such as dealer hits soft 17, double downs restricted to totals of 10 or 11, pairs may be split only once, or 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks can have a higher house edge than a six-deck game with more favorable rules.

8. A. When blackjacks pay only 6-5, it adds 1.39% to the house edge — higher than the entire house edge at most blackjack games. Dealer hits soft 17 adds about two-tenths of a percent to the house edge, and the jump from one to six decks adding about half a percent.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski