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28 September 1999

OK, so you think you're a hotshot blackjack player? Try this quiz. It will only take a few minutes. Jot down your answers and compare them with the correct answers that follow. You may be surprised at your results.

The game is being dealt with six decks of cards. The rules are you can double down on any two-card combination, doubling is also allowed after you pair split, and the dealer stands on soft 17.

Each question lists what the hand is that was dealt to you and the value of the dealer's up card. You have to decide on the playing strategy. The following abbreviations are used: H is hit, S is stand, D is double, P is split and Y/N means yes or no.

* * * * *

Here are the mathematically correct answers for the above playing decisions. It is based on simulating the game of blackjack on a computer to determine the best playing decision (which is the one that shows the greatest profit or smallest loss).

1. H
2. S
3. D
4. H
5. H
6. H
7. S
8. H
9. H
10. N

If you got 2 or more wrong answers, you had better bone up on your blackjack playing strategy before your next casino visit. Reading the following explanations to the above quiz is a good way to start.

1. A soft hand in blackjack is a hand that contains an ace counted as 11. The playing strategies for soft hands are unique. In the case of being dealt an ace, 7 or soft 18, you should double down if the dealer up card is 3, 4, 5 or 6; you should hit if the dealer up card is 9, 10 or ace; and stand when the dealer up card is 2, 7 or 8. Therefore, with the dealer showing a 9, the correct answer is to hit.

2. Whenever you are dealt a pair of picture cards or 10s, you have a high potential of winning the hand with your 20. Therefore never split 10s or picture cards; just stand.

3. With a pair of 5s, you can either split them or double down on your total of 10. As a general rule you should never split 5s. You should double down when the dealer up card is 2 through 9 and stand if the dealer shows a 10 or ace. With the dealer showing a 6, the correct answer is to double.

4. A 10,2 hand with the dealer showing a 2 is a close call between hitting and standing. The percentages however slightly favor hitting versus standing.

5. In a single-deck game you would double that 5,3 hand against a dealer's 6. But we said this is a six-deck game. And in six-deck games you should hit the 5,3 versus doubling.

6. With a soft 14 (ace, 3) you should hit against the dealer's 3. If the dealer instead showed a 5 or 6, then you should double.

7. When you are dealt a pair of nines, you should split when the dealer's up card is 2 through 9 except against the 7. Logically you have an 18 and against a dealer's 7 you will probably win even if he has a ten down card. So against the 7, stand versus split.

8. When you are dealt a two card hand that totals ten (such as 7,3), you should double down when the dealer's up card is 2 through 9 and hit when the dealer shows a 10 or ace (see question 3 above). The correct answer is to hit your 7,3 against the 10.

9. A 10,6 hand is a lousy blackjack hand. Against a dealer's 7 up card you will probably lose whether you hit or stand. But over the long haul the computer results show you will lose less when you hit versus stand. Therefore the correct play is to hit (and pray!).

10. Making the insurance bet is a bad play unless you are card counting. No matter what you are dealt (yes, even a blackjack hand), you should not make the insurance bet!

If you didn't fare so well on the quiz, I can suggest two choices if you want to continue to play blackjack. Either marry someone who is very wealthy to support your potential losses or take the time and effort to learn the basic playing strategy.

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Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

#### Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

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Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

#### Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com