5 Things Most People Don’t Know About Blackjack

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Dealer's Hands

1. Betting Smart

It is possible to double up a blackjack bet after the first two cards have been laid out. It’s simple:

If the starting total looks promising, the player can set down a second set of chips equal to the

first right next to the original pile. The rules vary from place to place, but some dealers only let

players do this when the value of the starting cards adds up to 10 or 11. This means the player

would need to pull a face card or a 10 to win.

2. Counting Draws

When the technique was first studied, counting cards was much more potent than it is today. The

reason is simple: the casinos adapted. Before the 1960’s, dealers only used one deck of cards and

weren’t too concerned about shuffling. These days, a dealer may shuffle together as many as 6

decks, maybe more. It’s pretty hard to count cards when there’s 252 of them. Experts calculate

that successfully counting cards results in a house advantage of about 1%. At least it’s better than

the slots.

3. The Disappearing Deck

Some casino dealers have turned security up a notch and taken random cards out of the pile. This

makes the card-counting challenge extra spicy. Who knows what else dealers have up their


4. The White Flag

In some casinos, the player is allowed to surrender and only lose half the original bet. This is

only allowed under specific circumstances, such as if the dealer pulls an ace as their starting

card. The rules vary on whether the dealer can allow surrender before or after checking if they

have a face card to follow up with it, so it’s a good idea to ask about the rule ahead of time. Not

all casinos offer surrender as an option, but the ones that do offer a bit more of an advantage to

the players.

5. Bittersweet Victory

Most casinos offer a 3 to 2 return on a blackjack win. Any less than this is a rip-off, but

unfortunately not an uncommon one. The Las Vegas Strip in particular has taken to paying only

a 5 to 6 return, meaning a $5 bet will only see a $6 win, or a $1 profit. This unwieldy price can

be avoided, though. Less popular casinos are almost guaranteed to offer a 3 to 2 return.

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