Departures From Sensible Play in Computer Blackjack

Albert W. L. Chau*, James G. Phillips, Karola L. Von Baggo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Gambling has been viewed as irrational, and even though blackjack offers rational strategies (i.e., Basic [E. Thorp, 1966] and card counting), people exhibit departures from rationality (e.g., "Never Bust" strategies). To determine whether departures from rational behavior reflect ignorance or fatigue, university students were provided with on-line Basic advice while playing a simplified computer blackjack. Although the on-line advice initially affected the totals these players sat on, it was eventually discarded for higher risk strategies. Irrational play did not reflect ignorance or fatigue and was not necessarily conservative. Real fluctuations of odds in blackjack may lead to situations in which Basic is not perceived by players as effective. Because Basic is not a personalized strategy, it seems less likely to be maintained in the face of losses. Players were more optimistic that they might win when utilizing their personalized strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)426-438
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of General Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Blackjack
    • Gambling
    • Risky decision making


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