Gambling Tips > Blackjack


By Henry Tamburin

For the past 10 years, gambling expert Max Rubin hosts the annual Blackjack Ball, a top-secret gathering of the world’s best blackjack players who meet to compete for the title of “World’s Greatest Blackjack Player.”


As part of the competition, Max administers a written test to prove the competency of the contestants. The players with the top scores advance to the next round in the competition. Ultimately, one player emerges as the winner, is crowned the “World’s Greatest Blackjack Player,” and receives the coveted Blackjack Ball Cup (which was renamed this year; see side bar).


I thought it would be fun if you tried answering some of the questions on this year’s test (which includes a mix of questions on blackjack, gambling trivia, and general knowledge because, as Max puts it, “A world-class blackjack player should know lots of stuff because you never know when it might come in handy.”). Note: The complete test is in the February issue of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter (

  1. Name three of the four new casinos that opened in Las Vegas in 2008 that feature live blackjack games
  2. True or False? Off the top of a six-deck shoe at the Bellagio casino, your fellow player has the bankroll but doesn’t want to split his 8’s against a dealer’s 5 upcard. You ask him if you can take one of the 8’s and he agrees. You and your neighbor will both play perfect basic strategy. Before the dealer delivers any cards to the split 8’s, your neighbor asks you which of the 8’s you want. You should choose the first 8 because it has a higher expected value than the second 8.
  3. True or False? According to the Blackjack Edge Calculator (, a game that has eight decks, dealer stands on soft 17 (S17), double on any two cards, double after pair splitting (DAS), resplit aces, resplit up to four hands, hit split aces, and no surrender, has a higher house advantage than a single-deck game with double any two cards, no DAS, split once only, H17, and late surrender.
  4. In a single-deck game, what is the maximum number of cards that could comprise a “busted” dealer’s hand?
  5. According to Peter Griffin’s “The Theory of Blackjack,” if the dealer has a ten upcard in a single-deck game, what is the percentage chance of her busting?
  6. It’s an eight-deck game, S17, double on any first two cards, late surrender, and no DAS.  On one of the following four hands, the player has an advantage over the dealer. On the other three hands, the house has the edge. Which hand has the player edge? Assume the player will play perfect basic strategy depending on his total.
    A.Player total of 17 vs. dealer 5
    B.Player total of 8 vs. dealer 2
    C.Player total of 17 vs. dealer 7
    D.Player total of 11 vs. dealer A, after the peek
  7. One of the following Las Vegas casinos doesn’t offer a standard $5,000 max bet to the public on its $25 shoe games. Which one?
    A. Luxor
    B. Caesars
    C. Wynn
    D. Las Vegas Hilton
  8. True or False? All of the following Las Vegas casinos feature “Go Go” dancers in their blackjack pit to attract customers: Caesars Palace, Hard Rock, Sahara, Luxor, Planet Hollywood, and Golden Gate.
  9. Within an ounce, what does a new 52-card deck of Bee playing cards weigh?
  10. True or False? It is perfectly legal for you to buy in to a blackjack game on the Las Vegas Strip with a $500 bill, and for the casino to put that bill in the drop box.



































        Palazzo, Encore, Aliante, East Side Cannery.


              True. Why? The first 8 can be resplit, and if it is resplit two times, the second 8 cannot be resplit at all.


                    True. The shoe game is worth 0.18% to the house. The single-deck game is worth 0.13%.


                          Ten cards (e.g., 2-2-2-2-3-A-A-A-A-X, where X is any ten-value card). 


                                21 percent. If your answer is between 20–22 percent, consider it correct.


                                      D.  The player’s expected values are -0.045% (A), -0.022% (B), -0.107% (C), and +0.143% (D).






                                                        3.4 ounces. If your answer is between 2.4 and 4.4 ounces, consider it correct.

                                                        10. True. But it would be stupid to do this because collectors pay over $2,000 for a $500 bill.