Single or Double Deck Blackjack Games

1 and 2 deck blackjack games are sought after by blackjack players. The house is more in favor of the player compared to multi-deck games. It’s also easier for players (to learn how) to count cards, track deck penetration and so on.

But it’s also because of these player advantages that many casinos have done away with their smaller deck blackjack games, or have altered the rules significantly to put the majority of the edge back in favor of the casino. So you’ll be lucky to find a 1 or 2 deck blackjack game, either live or online.

Don’t let that stop you from looking, though. There are many benefits to single deck blackjack games, which I’ve outlined below. Further below I’ve shared some methods that casinos use to lower the player’s edge.

Benefits of 1 or 2 Deck Casinos

There are a number of benefits to playing at 1 or 2 deck blackjack casinos.

  • More player blackjacks. The odds of being dealt a natural blackjack in a single deck game is 4.82%. With 8 decks your odds decrease to 4.75%.
  • Less dealer blackjacks. The dealer is less likely to have a blackjack to tie the player if the player has one, because the one of 4 (or 8) aces have been used, drastically lowering the odds of the dealer having one.
  • Deck penetration. Assuming the cards aren’t reshuffled every hand, a single deck will be penetrated more than two decks, than 3, 4 and so on. The further a deck is penetrated, the more accurate a card counter’s count, as well as his assessment of how many 10s and aces are left in the deck, and possibly, where.
  • Card counting. Single and double decks are easier for players to count and keep track of.
  • Great value for double downs. Similar to the reason for more player blackjacks, the chances of a player receiving a good card when double downing increases in a single and double deck.

The difference in any one of these points is miniscule, comparing the odds of a single deck to multiple decks. However, if you combine all of these points together, along with the various rules in favor of the player (like splitting aces, double downs after splits, etc), then it adds up to a significant advantage in favor of the player.

What Casinos Do to Lower the Player Edge

Obviously (it should be obvious, at least), the casino isn’t going to stand around and let players have this massive edge. They’re there to make money, after all. So assuming you can find a single or double deck blackjack game online, be aware that the casino may take the following actions to reduce your odds.

  • Bad blackjack odds. In a single or double deck game, don’t be surprised to see 6:5 payouts for natural blackjacks. That reduces the payout from $1.50 to $1.20 per $1 wagered. This adds 1.39% to the house edge.
  • Dealer hits soft 17. This adds .22% to the house edge.
  • Shuffle every hand. This applies only to live blackjack games, since online games shuffle every hand anyway. But shuffling removes the advantage of tracking deck penetration and getting a (more) accurate count.
  • Anti-card counting policies. Some casinos have policies prohibiting card counters from playing. 5Dimes is an example of this. Card counters that try to take advantage of live dealer games may have their accounts closed and winnings confiscated.

In short, casinos will do everything they can to increase their odds in single and double deck games, as well as prevent (or discourage) advantage players from counting cards.