Ralph Stricker: Blackjack Myths

Blackjack Myths
by Ralph Stricker
Copyright © 1997 Ralph Stricker

Ralph Stricker was an internationally known blackjack expert. In 1978 he opened one of the first blackjack schools on the East coast. In 1981 he sold the school and has played blackjack professionally. He has appeared on many of the major talk shows throughout the United States. He had his own radio and tv shows for three years. He has also written a book on the playing of Blackjack entitled the Silver Fox Blackjack System “You Can Count On It“.  Ralph Stricker passed away in 2012

    The world of Blackjack is not unlike any other subject when it comes to myths. Long before I ever learned how to play correctly I was aware of them. Since that time, I have heard them from students, players and just the general public whenever I appear on radio talk shows.

    The serious person who wants to learn the game must first put any of these per-conceived notions regarding these “myths” out of their conscious and sub-conscious.


“The object is to get to 21, or as close to 21 without exceeding the total of 21”

    This a misleading statement. The object is to beat the dealer’s hand. Often, the best strategy is to stand depending on your hand and the dealer’s up-card.  Many people lose a hand because they hit their hands, when according to basic strategy they should stand.

“The 3rd baseman controls the game”

    The player at 3rd base has no more control over the game as far as other players winning as the player in 1st base. Neither has any effect on whether you win or lose long term. We always notice when the player in 3rd base takes a card and the dealer makes the hand. Conversely, we never notice when the player plays wrong and the dealer busts because of the bad play.

“You can’t count more than two decks”

    This is one of the biggest misconceptions regarding card counting. People are intimidated by multiple deck blackjack (4 or more decks). There is no difference in keeping a running count in multiple deck as there is in single or double deck. Ratios are ratios. We have more cards to count and multiple deck is not as favorable as single and double deck. We also have to convert to a True Count to adjust our betting and playing.

“Bad players cause us to lose”

    If this were true, I would never play blackjack again. I am always playing with people who do not know the correct basic strategy for the game. Therefore I should not win if this were true. Some people play a little bad, some very bad and some absolutely terrible. It doesn’t make any difference, they have no effect on my winning or losing long term.

“Always take Insurance if you have a Blackjack”

    This is one of the biggest mistakes a player can make. Insurance is the biggest “sucker bet” in blackjack. The casinos love people who take insurance. If a person were to take insurance every time that they had a blackjack. They would be giving up 13% of the profit that blackjack pays. In order for a person to break even with insurance, you would have to guess correctly 1 out of 3 times in order to just break even on the insurance option. Only if you are card counting should you ever take insurance. Incidentally when the casino offers you “even” money on your blackjack, that is the same as taking insurance.

“The dealer is HOT”

    How many times have you heard someone say “Don’t play here, the dealer is hot?”  There is not a day in the casino that I do not hear this statement. I usually ask. “Did you take his/her temperature?”  In the game of blackjack there are cycles of winning and losing. If we could predict these events we would all be millionaires. The most likely explanation mathematically is that when you are winning, the deck/shoe composition was in your favor and when you are losing, it is not in your favor.  Only if you are card counting can you determine this.

“The deuce (2) is the most favorable card for the dealer”

    I would much prefer the dealer to have a deuce than an Ace or a ten showing. We notice the deuce because he makes his hand frequently due to the fact that there is only one card that can “bust” the hand (10) assuming that the total is 12. Mathematically we lose more to the dealer’s hand, when the “up card” is an Ace or a 10.

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