Sit back, relax, and try answering the following 20 questions in this quiz about the game of blackjack. This quiz is not solely about blackjack strategy; rather, it also covers some interesting facts and statistics about the game.

  • Give yourself five points for each correct answer.
  • If you score over 80, you really know your stuff about blackjack.
  • If you score less than 80, hopefully, the correct answers to the questions you missed will improve your knowledge of the game. (Answers are at the end of the article.)

BLACKJACK QUIZ

  1. How did the game of blackjack get its name?
  2. What important contribution did the “Four Horsemen from Aberdeen” make to the game of blackjack?
  3. What did Dr. Edward Thorp do?
  4. How frequently does a player get a blackjack hand?
  5. What is the chance that you could lose three consecutive hands at blackjack?
  6. What is the name of the event that professional card counters attend annually, and where do they meet?
  7. Which pair(s) should you always split?
  8. Which pair (s) should you never split?
  9. What is a “stiff hand” in blackjack?
  10. What is a “soft hand”?
  11. What occurs that results in a player’s “busting”? 
  12. How does the house get its edge in blackjack?
  13. What percent of the time will a dealer bust when she has a 6 upcard? (Assume playing rules are dealer must stand on soft 17.)
  14. Is it better for the player when the dealer stands on all 17’s or hits soft 17?
  15. Is a 6-5 payoff for a blackjack better than a 3-2 payoff?
  16. What happens when you surrender in blackjack?
  17. When you buy insurance in blackjack what do you get?
  18. Why do most casinos use six and eight decks of cards instead of a single deck?
  19. You wager $10 and receive a pair of aces. You split them and draw a picture card to each ace. The dealer subsequently busts. How much do you win?
  20. If the dealer has an ace upcard, what is the chance she will have a 10 in the hole and a blackjack?

ANSWERS

  1. When the card game known as “21” was initially introduced in gambling houses in America, it didn’t catch on with players. So gambling bosses implemented a 10–1 payoff bonus if a player received an ace of spades and either a jack of spades or clubs. This hand was called a “blackjack.”  The 10–1 bonus payout was eventually abolished and subsequently replaced with a 3–2 bonus payout for all initial hands of an ace and 10-value card; however, the name of the bonus stuck and to this day, the game itself is referred to as “blackjack.”
  2. The Four Horsemen were Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, James McDermott, and Herbert Maisel. In 1956, using nothing more than desk calculators, they developed and published the first reasonably accurate basic playing strategy for blackjack. The four were subsequently inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame by their peers for their accomplishments.
  3. Dr. Thorp is universally regarded as the inventor of card counting (known as the “Father of Blackjack Card Counting”). He published his card counting system in 1962 in the book Beat the Dealer, which quickly made the New York Times list of best-selling books. 
  4. About once in every 21 hands, or roughly 4.8% of the time. 
  5. The percent of the time a blackjack player will win a hand, lose a hand, or tie is 43.8% (win), 47.3% (lose), and 8.9% (tie). (Rules dependent.) If you discount ties, the percent of the hands won and lost is 48.1% (win) and 51.9% (lose). The chance that you could lose three consecutive hands is 51.9% x 51.9% x 51.9% equals 14%. (This, of course, is true for playing just three hands.)
  6. The name of the event is the Blackjack Ball. Approximately 110 blackjack pros (active and retired) have met annually since 2002 at a secret location in Las Vegas. You must be invited to attend, and security is tight because if a casino employee were to infiltrate the Ball, it would make his career while destroying the careers of many blackjack pros in attendance.
  7. You should always split a pair of aces or eights.  Many casual players shun splitting 8s when the dealer shows a 9, 10, or ace upcard card. However, that’s a mistake because you will lose less money in the long run by playing two hands, each with an 8, than by playing one hand of 16 against a dealer’s 9, 10 or ace upcard.
  8. You should never split a pair of 5s or 10s. In the case of 5s, you will win more, on average, by playing one hand of 10 than by splitting and playing two hands, each with a 5. Some casual players split a pair of 10s when the dealer shows a weak 5 or 6 upcard. Again, that’s a mistake because even though splitting the 10s will win you money in the long run, you’ll win more money by standing on the initial hand of 20.
  9. A stiff hand in blackjack is a hand that totals 12 through 16 and that could bust with a one-card draw.  
  10. A soft hand in blackjack is any hand that contains an ace counted as 11. The playing strategy for a soft hand with a specific total is different than a hand with the same total but not containing an ace counted as 11. (For example, a 16 comprised of A-5 plays differently than a 10-6.)
  11. A player busts when the total of his hand exceeds 21 (for example, 7-9-10).
  12. The house derives its edge in blackjack because players have to draw first, and if they bust, they automatically lose regardless if the dealer subsequently busts in the same round.
  13. When the dealer has a 6 upcard, she will bust 42% of the time on average. (This also means the dealer will make a 17–21 more often than busting.)
  14. It’s better for the player when the casino rules specify that dealers must stand on all 17s, including soft 17. If the casino blackjack rules dictate that the dealer must hit her soft 17, the house edge against the player increases slightly. The reason for the latter is that even though the dealer will bust slightly more often when she hits compared to standing on soft 17, the times she doesn't bust she will, more often, end up with a hand that totals higher than 17. The net result is the casino's edge increases by roughly 0.2%.
  15. A 6-5 payoff for a blackjack is worse than a 3-2 payoff. With the same rules, a game where players are paid 6-5 for an untied blackjack increases the house edge by 1.4% compared to the same game with a 3-2 payoff. This means if you were to wager, say $10, and received a blackjack, with a 3-2 payoff you’d win $15, whereas for a 6-5 payoff, you’d only win $12. Therefore, as an aside, you should avoid playing any 6-5 blackjack game.
  16. After a player receives his initial two-card hand, some casinos allow players to surrender their hands. When a player surrenders, he forfeits playing his hand (the dealer will place the player’s two cards in the discard tray), and he automatically loses half of his initial wager. Strategically, it’s best to surrender a hand when your chance of winning is less than one out of four hands, i.e., your expected loss is worse than 50%. This means that statistically, if playing the hand has less than a 25 percent chance of winning and, consequently, greater than a 75 percent chance of losing, you will save money in the long run by surrendering the hand instead. (See Chapter 3 in the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide for a list of the hands that you should surrender.)
  17. You have the option of betting that the dealer has a ten in the hole when she shows an ace upcard. The amount that the casinos let you wager on the insurance bet is equal to one-half (or less) of the original bet. If the dealer ends up with a ten or picture card in the hole, your insurance bet pays off at 2-1 (i.e., you win the same amount as your original bet). If the dealer doesn’t have a ten in the hole, your insurance bet is lost and play continues.
  18. Casinos use six and eight decks of cards because it increases their edge over the players, and it makes card counting slightly more difficult (but not impossible). 
  19. You win $20. Most players get upset when the dealer doesn’t give them a 3-2 payout. However, a blackjack hand occurs only when the initial two cards dealt to a player are a 10-value card plus an ace. When you split aces (your initial two cards) and draw a 10 to one or both aces, you have a 21 (not a blackjack) and the payout if the hand wins is 1-1. 
  20. The dealer will have a 10 about 31% of the time (that’s four times out of 13).
About the Author
By

Henry Tamburin is one of world’s most respected blackjack experts and a world-class player. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, and Blackjack: Take The Money and Run. He edited the monthly Blackjack Insider Newsletter, and was a featured blackjack columnist for Casino Player magazine, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Gaming South magazine, Southern Gaming magazine, New England Gaming News, Jackpot, Bingo Bugle, and Casino City Times.