Multi-Deck & Single-Deck Differences
Blackjack is one of the easiest casino table games to learn and relies on skill a lot more than some games such as Roulette or Slots.
Many casino sites now offer a full range of Blackjack options, from Single-Deck right up to those that use 8 Decks – or Shoes.
Although the rules are the same for both Single-Deck and Multi-Deck Blackjack, there are a few minor differences that you should be aware of in order to maximize your chances of winning.
How to play Blackjack
Back when Blackjack was first launched, it was only played with one deck of cards. The aim of the game – as it is now – is to get closer to 21 than the Dealer without going over this total and ‘Busting’.
It quickly became obvious in land-based Casinos that you could get an advantage over the House by ‘Card Counting’. This is where you make a mental note of how many cards with the value of 10 – to 10, Jack, Queen and King – have come out of the deck.
The more that comes out, the less chance there is of getting Blackjack or a 10 when you ‘Hit’ – request an extra card from the Dealer.
Casinos soon cottoned onto this and started to look at ways of keeping their House Edge as high as possible. One of the main ways they did this was to introduce extra decks to the game, thus making it harder for some counting cards to keep track of the number of 10’s that had been dealt.
In both versions of Blackjack, winners get paid even money unless they get Blackjack – An Ace and card worth 10 in their first 2 cards – in which case they win their bet at 3 to 2 – although in some versions of Single-Deck Blackjack, you get paid only 6 to 5 so keep an eye out for that and avoid when you can.
Multi-Deck VS Single-Deck Strategies
The key difference when playing Single-Deck Blackjack as opposed to Multi-Deck Blackjack is when to Hit, when to Stand and when to Double.
Like all versions of the game, we recommend that you avoid Insurance whenever it is offered (this only applies when the Dealer’s upturned card is an Ace) as this is a worse bet than many side-games and has a much better House-Edge than the game itself. You may win in the short-term but the more they play the more likely it is that you will lose. See our separate article on Insurance for more details.
There are plenty of times when the optimal move is the same for both Single-Deck and Multi-Deck variations.
For example, if you have 11 or less then you cannot Bust so at no time would the correct move be to Stand – the only choice is when to Double when the Dealer has a poor card and you have 8 or above.
In both variations, if you have 17 or above, it is always advisable to Stand as the risk of Busting is too high, irrespective of what the Dealer may have.
Single DeckPlayer Up CardPlayer Below2345678910A2HHHHHHHHHH3HHHHHHHHHH4HHHHHHHHHH5HHHHHHHHHH6HHHHHHHHHH7HHHHHHHHHH8HHHDDHHHHH9DDDDDHHHHH10DDDDDDDDHH11DDDDDDDDDH12HHSSSHHHHH13SSSSSHHHHH14SSSSSHHHHH15SSSSSHHHHH16SSSSSHHHHH17SSSSSSSSSS18SSSSSSSSSS19SSSSSSSSSS20SSSSSSSSSS21SSSSSSSSSS
Multi DeckPlayer Up CardPlayer Below2345678910A2HHHHHHHHHH3HHHHHHHHHH4HHHHHHHHHH5HHHHHHHHHH6HHHHHHHHHH7HHHHHHHHHH8HHHHHHHHHH9HDDDDHHHHH10DDDDDDDDHH11DDDDDDDDDH12HHSSSHHHHH13SSSSSHHHHH14SSSSSHHHHH15SSSSSHHHHH16SSSSSHHHHH17SSSSSSSSSS18SSSSSSSSSS19SSSSSSSSSS20SSSSSSSSSS21SSSSSSSSSS
H = Hit
D = Double
S = Stand
As there are more cards available in Multi-Deck Blackjack, it is harder to determine your odds when Doubling. Therefore, the main difference that you will see between the charts above is that there are more instances where you should Double in Single-Deck Blackjack.
As there are fewer cards with the value of 10, it is harder for you to go Bust in Single-Deck. It follows that in Multi-deck Blackjack you have more cards to hit and therefore a bigger chance of hitting a 10-value card.
We recommend that you Double on an 8 when the Dealer has a 5 or 6 in the Single-Deck variation, again due to the lower number of cards available the chances are less than the Dealer will make a winning hand and is more likely to Bust.
It is clearly easier to keep track of the cards that come out the deck in Single-Deck Blackjack, even when playing online.
However, you will find that the House Edge is higher on Insurance at around 5.9 as there are fewer 10’s in the deck. As mentioned above though, we do recommend avoiding Insurance at all costs.
You will find it easier to play Multi-Hand Blackjack online as there are far more variations and the House-Edge is better when following the above strategy in Multi-Deck Blackjack than the Single-Deck variation.
Related Blackjack Articles:
Blackjack Rules, Strategy & Tips
Basics of Card Counting