Gambling Tips > Blackjack

2013 BLACKJACK BALL - Part 2

By Henry Tamburin

In last month’s issue of Casino Player, I gave an overview of the 2013 Blackjack Ball, an event attended by the greatest gathering of blackjack professionals in the world (102 of them to be exact). As I mentioned last month, part of the festivities at the Ball included an evening-long test of knowledge and skills to identify the best blackjack player among the world’s best players.


One component of the competition is a 21-question written test that was administered by the Master of Ceremonies, Max Rubin. I thought it would be fun if you tried to answer a sample of questions from this year’s test, which includes a mix of questions on blackjack, gambling trivia, and general knowledge because, as Rubin puts it, “A world-class blackjack player should know lots of stuff because you never know when it might come in handy.”


The rules were simple: You have only 30 seconds to answer each question, and you can’t use a calculator, book, strategy card, smart phone, or other aid (you are on your own). Score one point for each correct answer. Good luck!


1. Name the billion-dollar Las Vegas Valley casino that has the most double-deck blackjack games.

2. If you open a new deck of Bee or Gemco playing cards, remove the Jokers, and lay the deck face down, what is the top card?

a. Ace of Hearts
b. Ace of Spades
c. King of Hearts
d. King of Spades

3. In the 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker game found on the Las Vegas Strip and elsewhere, yielding 99.54% when played correctly, full houses return 8-to-1 and flushes return 5-to-1. True or False.

4. This question comes from noted gaming attorney Bob Loeb. Three of the following signs have been sighted at casino blackjack tables in the United States in the past year:  Which of the following was not a real sign? 


  1. “Showing your cards to other players is not permitted; violators will be ejected.”
  2. “English only spoken at this table.”
  3. “Proper identification is required for all bets exceeding $100.”
  4. “Handicapped players may be asked to give up their seat at this table.”

5. According to Current Blackjack News, which of these two Las Vegas casinos have the smallest player disadvantage off the top on their double-deck games?   


  1. The M and the Tropicana
  2. Bill’s Gambling Hall and Casino Royale
  3. Red Rock and Sunset Station
  4. The Poker Palace and Binions. 

6. Which State had an SEC football team ranked in the A.P. final 25 for 2012 and the most legal blackjack tables?

7. According to Stanford Wong’s most recent edition of Current Blackjack News, within five, how many states in the U.S. have legal, live blackjack games? Your answer must include blackjack games on “cruises to nowhere.” States that only allow non-profit “casino night” blackjack do not count. 

8. Which number is lowest?

A. The square root of 21. 
B. The cube root of the number of cards in a double deck.
C. The height, in inches of a standard Bee playing card held vertically.  
D. The height, in inches of 25 standard casino chips stacked vertically. 

9. Who was the first casino owner in Nevada to hire female dealers?

A. Don Laughlin at the Riverside in Laughlin
B. Jackie Gaughan at the El Cortez in Las Vegas
C. Raymond Smith at Harold’s Club in Reno
D. Bill Harrah at Harrah’s in Reno.


1. Red Rock Casino has 23 double-deck games.

2. The top card on a new unshuffled face-down deck of Gemaco or Bee cards is the Ace of Hearts, so the answer is A.

3. The video poker game typically called 9/6 Jacks or Better, returns 9-for-1 for a full house and 6-for-1 for a flush. But, of course, 9-FOR-1 and 6-FOR-1 are exactly equivalent to 8-TO-1 and 5-TO-1 respectively. Since the latter phraseology is precisely how the question was stated, the answer is TRUE.

4. Bob Loeb saw the sign that prohibited showing other players your cards. He also got calls reporting that English was the only language allowed while playing blackjack, and that Handicapped players may be asked to give up their seats to more able-bodied players. So the answer is C. No one YET has reported a sign that requires proper I.D. for betting blacks while playing 21.

5. M and the Tropicana are 0.14% off the top. Bill’s and the Casino Royale don’t have double-deck games. None of the Stations Casinos have a double-deck game that’s all that hot, The Poker Palace doesn’t have double deck, and Binion’s double deck pays only 6-5 (for a blackjack), so the answer is A, The M and the Tropicana.

6. Mississippi, home of Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi, in the SEC, has a decent mix of games on 624 blackjack games that are scattered across the state, but neither team made the A.P. top 25. Florida, with 209 tables, which are all on six-deck shoe games, was ranked #9. Louisiana, home of LSU, which wound up rated 14th, has 438 tables, with at least a few nice games thrown in here and there, so the correct answer is Louisiana.

7. There are now 36 states that offer legal, live blackjack games in some fashion. The correct answer is 31 to 41.

8. Rounded, the square root of 21 is 4.6 and the cube root of 104 is 4.7. A standard playing card is 3 ½ inches high. A stack of 25 chips is 3 ¼ inches high. Therefore, the correct answer is D, a stack of 25 casino chips. 

9. Raymond Smith and his family were casino innovators extraordinaire. By 1948, they had built the biggest casino in Nevada (based on the number of tables) and they did it by letting their dealers gamble on the games during their time off, never letting a loser go home broke or hungry (they gave players up to 10 percent of their losses for “walking money”). Smith also hired female dealers at the table games and made them feel “welcome.” The correct answer is C, Raymond Smith at Harold’s Club in Reno.

(Note: You can read more about the 2013 Blackjack Ball in issues #158 and #159 of the Blackjack Insider at