Testing your Snapper knowledge
by Mark Pilarski
1. High table minimums and low table maximums is to the player's
2. Early surrender is a better player option that later surrender.
3. The blackjack game where you see the dealer's hole card
in advance is better than the standard blackjack game.
4. When the deck is rich in aces and face cards, it favors
5. You should never double down for less in blackjack.
6. When you have a 16 in blackjack, you should surrender against
a face card.
7. Doubling down on a 10 against a dealer's 10 is predicated
by using perfect basic strategy.
8. Following a never-bust strategy is smart play for the new
player on a shoe game.
9. Always look for a game where the dealer hits a soft 17.
10. According to blackjack basic strategy, in all playing scenarios
you should hit a soft 17 (A-6), but you should never hit a hard
11. Playing video blackjack pays the same as the table game.
12. The casino has to many advantages over the player to overcome
the game of blackjack.
13. If the dealer miscounts the player's total and starts to
pay off on a losing hand, the player expected to correct the dealer.
14. When you have a 20 and playing on a single deck game, you
should always take insurance.
15. You should stay on your 15s and 16s to avoid busting when
the dealer is showing a 7.
16. Multi-Action blackjack is not for the timid of heart.
17. On a shoe (multiple-deck) game, you are giving an edge
to the casino.
18. You have a better chance of getting blackjacks on a single
versus multiple deck game.
1. False: Quite the contrary. It is a huge advantage for the casino,
and here's why. Casinos win for two reasons. First, a statistical
edge (percentage advantage) on each and every game, and second,
they have a whole lot more cash and staying power than you do.
For the latter, it's a simple concept called "gambler's ruin."
In essence, it's how long will it take you-with your limited bankroll-to
lose everything to a casino, which has a relatively infinite wad
of cash. So even if you do have a short-term winning streak when
the house has this infinite stake, they can, and will, always
Now to the situation of playing the high minimums/low maximums
limits. This scenario eliminates low-stakes betting (high minimums);
plus, the ability to parlay your winnings by increasing your bets
(low maximums) is removed. Unfortunately, when you play under
these conditions, depletion of a low roller's bankroll in a matter
of minutes is not uncommon.
2. True: Early surrender permits a player to relinquish half her
wager even if the dealer has a blackjack. With late surrender,
if the dealer possesses a blackjack, the player loses her complete
3. False: Stick with the old tried and true, as this form of
blackjack is not worth playing. Because you lose pushes and only
receive even money on blackjacks, the house edge is 2% higher
than normal blackjack.
4. True: There are two reasons for this. First, blackjacks
will appear more often when there is a higher proportion of aces
in the deck, and, as you know blackjacks pay the player 3 to 2.
Second, the dealer will bust more when he has a "stiff"
(12 through 16). The player, given the same opportunity, would
stand on stiffs, whereas the dealer is forced by the rules of
the game to hit away and hopefully bust.
5. True: Never is the correct answer. Because you only double
down when you are more likely to win the hand than lose, you always
want to wager the maximum amount. It is the double downs and blackjacks
that take your blackjack play from the red to the black. Do not
shortchange yourself in these situations.
6. True Surrender is an option in which the casinos allow players
to "surrender" half their original bet total after they
have examined their first two cards and have viewed the dealer
If the casino's blackjack rules permit surrender, jump on their
offer. Let's face it, a 16 is a garbage hand faced off against
a 10. The best move when dealt dealer debris is to relinquish
half your bet. Never think of surrender as giving up half your
wager, just getting back half your probable loss.
7. False: Blackjack is a game in which the proper hit, stand,
splitting and doubling decisions are necessary to cut the house
edge down to a minimum. These proper decisions are called basic
strategy and have been arrived at by computer simulations of millions
This case in point, doubling down on a 10 against a dealer 10
is NOT one of those times. Basic strategy dictates you hit your
hand, not double down. This stratagem is the same for both single
and multiple deck games.
8. False: Over the years, I have seen many losing players
employ this never-bust strategy. Right off the top, they are giving
the house a 5% edge. Strict basic strategy, which obviously recommends
hitting plenty of stiff hands, cuts the house edge to a half of
one percent on six-or eight-deck games.
9. False: When you play a game in which the dealer hits a soft
17, you give the house an additional two-tenths of one percent.
With a soft 17 showing, an Ace, 2, 3 or 4 improves the dealer's
hand and a 10, Jack, Queen or King leaves it of equivalent value.
Eight of every 13 cards either improves the dealers hand or it
stays the same. If any of the other five cards are drawn, the
dealer still has a chance to convalesce his hand with another
For the above reason basic strategy dictates that you the player
should always hit a soft 17, or double down against a dealer who's
showing a 3, 4, 5, 6.
10. True: Unfortunately, a 17 in blackjack is a damned hand,
a dud over the long haul. The alternative strategy of hitting
a hard 17 would only multiply your losses. Nevertheless, with
a soft 17 you at least have the possibility of taking another
card, which could improve your hand. This is why basic strategy
charts dictate either hitting or doubling down, never standing
on a soft 17, but staying on a hard 17.
11. False: Unless you find a machine that pays you the true
value of a blackjack (3 for 2), look at most video blackjack machines
with a jaundiced eye. Most machines pay even money on natural
21s. Because you can expect a snapper every 21 hands in live play,
the loss of that bonus will cost you an additional 2.3 percent.
Considering that blackjack has a house advantage of less than
.5 percent to a knowledgeable player, you are giving away the
farm here. Other machines round down on blackjack payoffs. If
you do happen to find a machine that pays the bonus for a blackjack,
make wagers in even amounts so you can get the maximum value of
a blackjack (a payoff of $3 for every $2 wagered). And what will
a dollar wagered get you for a blackjack? Just a buck, so always
bet in two-unit increments.
12. False: The ONLY advantage the casino has over the player
in blackjack is that the casino plays last. If you bust and so
does the dealer, the house already has your money in the tray.
Player skills, or lack of them, are really what are going to determine
your success in a casino. The casino doesn't beat you; it merely
gives you the opportunity to beat yourself.
13. False: The short answer is false. You do not have to inform
the dealer that he has made a payoff mistake. When I pitched cards,
players never informed me that I had made an error (of course
I'm exaggerating just a little bit, but that's how I remember
Nevertheless, virtue, honesty, even altering your karma comes
into play. Only you can decide where your integrity lies.
14. False: Who is holding at least two of the cards the dealer
needs to make their blackjack? YOU. Insuring a hand composed of
two 10 cards on a single deck game gives the house a 14.3% edge,
making this one of the worst bets in the casino.
15. False: The dealer's chances of having a 17 or more when
he shows a 7, 8, 9, 10 or ace are between 74% and 83%. Correct
basic strategy dictates that you always hit your 15 or 16.
16. True: Multi-Action multiplies the urge for most players
to misplay their hands. Far too many players employ a never-bust
strategy because they are afraid of losing all three bets at once.
They stand on a 12 regardless of the dealer up-card. They wish,
hope and pray the dealer will bust on one or more hands. This
can be a bankroll-killer. At a $5 minimum table, if you are not
willing to risk $15 on a hit/stand decision, you should not be
Secondly, your blackjack bankroll has to be higher. Five-dollar
players have to make $15 worth of bets. A few triple losses and
you're in the keno lounge begging for free drinks.
Finally, many times the house rules of Multi-Action are inferior
to that of regular blackjack. An example of this would be not
being able to double down after splits on a Multi-Action game.
17. True: Compared to a single deck, a two-deck game handicaps
your play -0.35%, four decks, -0.48%, six decks, -0.54% and eight
decks -0.58%. As you can see, it is always to your advantage to
play on a game that offers the fewest decks. Also note, the house
edge goes up substantially when you go from one deck to two, but
the change is less dramatic as you add more decks.
So how much is this costing you in dollars and cents? If you were
to play 100 hands per hour at $5 per hand, each -0.1% would cost
you approximately 50¢ per hour. Playing on a game with two
decks versus one will cost you $1.75 per hour, with each additional
deck costing you increasingly more.
18. True: Blackjacks, which pay 3 for 2, occur more frequently
on a single deck versus multi-deck games. Example: Let's say your
first card is an Ace. On a single deck game, 16 of the remaining
51 cards, or 31.37 percent, are the face or 10-value cards that
would complete your blackjack. On a six-deck game, 96 of the remaining
311 cards, or 30.87 percent, would give you your snapper.
Let's see whether you can answer three simple questions. What
should you do with a 12 against a three? How about an Ace/3 facing
a five? Should you split a pair of 7's eyeing a seven? Your replies
should be "hit, double and yes."
What I ask all blackjack players who want to go it alone without
a casino cheat sheet is: "Do you really know your basic strategy
cold?" I have found, in 18 years of casino employment, that
most players who believe they are experts at basic strategy misplay
about 15 percent of their hands. The basic strategy chart, my
laminated crib card being a matrix of 270 hand situations, is
designed to give you a concise and definitive play for every starting
hand you will be dealt. Using a card will drop the casino edge
to less than one percent.
So are you reading this and playing blackjack without a basic
strategy card? Well, because you are a regular to this web site,
allow me to send you a laminated Blackjack Strategy Card-FREE.
Yes, those same ones you see in gaming publications and casino
gift shops for up to $5 can be yours at no cost. All I ask is
that you send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to: Winners
Publishing, ATTN: BJ Strategy Card, P.O. Box 1234, Traverse City,
It is this web site's way of saying thank you for stopping by.
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