Blackjack FAQ

Ready to hear something shocking?

We receive a TON of questions about playing blackjack.

(Okay… maybe not that shocking.)

And we do our best to answer all the questions that come our way.

Sometimes it makes more sense to take those questions and turn them into full-fledge guides, reviews or blog posts. We can add pictures and examples to get our point across.

Other times the questions we get only need a line or two to answer. A blog post or guide would be overkill.

So, we put those questions here on our FAQ page.

Below you’ll find all sorts of random questions related to blackjack. If you don’t see your question here – or anywhere else on the site – let us know and we’ll be sure to add it ASAP. You can find our contact information here.

Why do casinos burn the top card in blackjack?

A couple reasons:

The biggest reason is to discourage cheating. If cheaters could see the top card they would have a MASSIVE advantage.

The second reason – to discourage card counters. Without the top card they lose some information. It also penetrates the deck more, but without giving away info.

How big a bankroll do I need to play blackjack?

There are too many variables to give concrete numbers. But here’s my thought on it.

I suggest having enough money to play for as long as you want. That might be an hour, five hours, two days, whatever.

The average person will be able to get through 50 to 350 hands per hour (depending on how many players there are).

So, say you’re playing $1 per hand. If you wanted to last an hour, I would suggest having a minimum of $50 and as much as $400. Somewhere in the middle would be best (at a minimum).

If you’re playing $5 per hand, you’d want $250 to $2,000.

Keep in mind this doesn’t account for splitting or doubling down. So, you might add a little extra for that.

Can you count cards online?

No. And the reason for that is the software used.

The simple explanation is that the decks used online are infinite – there’s no way to get an accurate count. They say ‘6 decks’ or ‘8 decks,’ but the way the software works there’s no real end to the number of decks used.

Between that and not being to see how far you’re penetrating the deck, and there’s no real way to get an accurate count.

You can count cards at live dealer games, but how well will depend on how often they shuffle, if you can see the decks and so on. And besides, many rooms have terms that state they will close your account if you’re caught cheating. So, you might not even want to.

Why are 6:5 blackjack tables bad?

Because the payouts for a blackjack are far worse compared to 2:1 tables.

For example, every $1 you play at 6:5 will get you $1.20 for a blackjack.

But on a 3:2 table you’ll get $1.50 for every $1 spent.

That is a .30 cent different. This is MASSIVE.

Even though you only receive a blackjack a little less than 1 in 40 hands, that is still a big drop in edge considering you are playing with tiny margins in this game.

And not only do you make less money for every blackjack, the difference also drastically increases the house edge for any blackjack game you play.

So, we suggest you steer clear of these games.

Why do casinos make it harder for blackjack players to clear the deposit bonus?

This is simple – the odds for blackjack favor the player too much. A single deck game of blackjack can have a house edge of less than 1 percent if the player is using correct strategies.

The house will still win in the long run, sure. But because the odds are so small there’s going to be a lot of variance. So much that the player could win a ton of money while earning a bunch of free money on top of that. And if they cash out immediately after, the casino might not get any of it back.

So, they handicap the play through requirements to even the playing field.

Why do casinos exclude single and double deck blackjack in their bonus terms?

See the explanation above.

Which blackjack game is the best to play?

The best are single and double deck games. They have the lowest odds.

We also recommend avoiding side bets and progressive jackpots.

Other than that – any game that lets the player do more will be better. For example, being able to double down on any two cards, split aces or split more than one time.

The less restrictions there are, the more in the player’s favor it will be.

How many hands of blackjack can you play per hour?

There are too many variables, but a rule of thumb would be 50-350 in a live game. I would think you could get between 300-400 (if not more) in an online (not live) game.

How should I choose a blackjack casino?

I recommend choosing a casino based on these things:

Check out our blackjack casino reviews for our run down of what we think is the best ones out there.

Should I play progressive jackpots?

Should you? That depends – do you want to the best odds or do you feel like gambling?

I ask because most progressive jackpots have terrible odds. Very few are worth playing.

But if you feel like gambling, then by all means, play them. It only costs $1 or so (in many cases). Just make sure to figure that into your budget.

What is the difference between early and late surrender?

A surrender is when the casinos lets the player forfeit their hand and get half of their bet back – the other half goes to the casino.

An early surrender allows the player to surrender their hand before the dealer checks their cards. This is in the player’s advantage because when the dealer checks their cards and sees that they have a natural 21, the player loses. An early surrender can avoid that.

A later surrender is more common – this is offered only after the dealer checks their cards. This favors the casino more than the player.

When should I take insurance?

The simple answer – never.

Insurance is like a progressive bet – it’s pretty much for suckers. The dealers only make a blackjack about 30% of the time. Your money goes to waste the other 70%. When you factor in that you’re getting 1:1 odds on the bet, it’s clear you’re getting the bad end of the deal.

Except if you’re counting cards.

What’s the best way to improve at blackjack?

There are lots of ways. And like most things it just depends on how much effort you want to put into it and how good you want to be.

I would start by reading books. There are lots of them – just head to Amazon and find any book by Ken Uston, Stanford Wong or Arnold Snyder.

From there I would sign up to forums and participate.

If you want to learn how to count cards I would do the above, then ask the other forum members what the best card counting method for beginners would be. Then follow their suggestions.

But bear in mind – card counting takes a LOT of practice. You’ll be practicing for months before you ever consider stepping foot inside a casino.

Can you get in trouble for card counting?

No, not really.

Most casinos reserve the right to kick you out – and they will. If you’re really good they’ll ban you. In that case you can get in trouble for trespassing (if you come back).

In New Jersey they actually have laws in favor of the player. Casinos cannot kick you out or ban you for having an edge. There was a case a few decades ago where Ken Uston fought his banishment from a casino for being an ‘advantage player.’

And he won.

But it just depends on the casino. In most cases what they say goes. And the worst that will (usually) happen is you being asked to leave or to play a different game.

As for online – you can’t really count cards. The software makes it impossible. And in the case of live blackjack games you’ll have your account closed if the room suspects you of counting cards.