This Is How The Number Of Decks Used Can Impact Your Blackjack Game…

This Is How The Number Of Decks Used Can Impact Your Blackjack Game…

You will typically find one, two, four, six, or eight decks in use in a game of blackjack – it varies based on the blackjack variation you’re playing. Crucially, the more decks that are used, the higher the house edge.

This guide outlines everything there is to know about the number of decks in blackjack and how this can impact your overall long-term success.

How Many Decks Are Used In Blackjack?

Blackjack games use one to eight decks, with only an even number of decks used (apart from the single-deck blackjack version). In theory, there’s no fixed maximum limit on the number of decks, but casinos keep this limit to eight decks.

Typically standard 52-card decks are used. And as always, all of the cards have set values (face cards are worth ten points, number cards have their number value, while the ace can be either 1 or 11).

That said, depending on the blackjack variation you’re playing, you might find that the number of cards in the deck differs. For instance, if you play a popular blackjack variation like Spanish 21, you’ll play with only 48 cards. This is because this version removes the number 10 cards from the deck.

How Many Decks Do Casinos Use?

Nowadays, the two most common variations you’ll see in casinos are six and eight-deck blackjack. This means the deck you’re playing with will have either 312 or 416 cards. Many Las Vegas casinos have almost entirely removed single-deck blackjack games from their venues. While you can still find games with two and four decks, these aren’t as common either.

One of the biggest reasons why casinos moved away from single-deck blackjack is to ensure fairness and maintain the game’s high complexity. As blackjack players mastered card counting techniques with single-deck blackjack, introducing more decks made it increasingly difficult to use this method.

Additionally, from a practical perspective, with more decks, players can play several rounds before the dealer has to shuffle the cards. Of course, there’s also another crucial factor worth considering when it comes to the overall deck number. This brings us to the next point.

How Does The Number Of Decks Affect The House Edge?

It’s a commonly known fact among experienced blackjack players that the number of decks directly correlates to the overall house edge. To fully understand this, it’s essential to make a differentiation between probability and odds.

In other words, the odds remain the same, regardless if you’re playing single-deck, four-deck, or eight-deck blackjack. However, as the number of decks increases, the probability lowers.

This might sound complicated, but it’s all quite simple math. The reason why the house edge increases is that your percentage of getting blackjack slightly lowers. In a single-deck blackjack game, if you get an Ace as your first card, 16 out of the remaining 51 cards are worth 10 points and will help you make 21. This is rounded up to 31.4%.

Now, let’s say you’re playing an eight-deck blackjack variation and receive an Ace. In this case, 128 out of the remaining 415 cards are worth ten points. Put into percentages, this is just over 30.8%. This discrepancy doesn’t seem like much, but the nearly 0.6% change can make a significant difference if you play thousands or tens of thousands of hands.

Moreover, this doesn’t just apply to your chances of getting a blackjack hand. The probability of winning a hand after splitting and doubling also falls off slightly the more decks are in play. All of these factors contribute to the overall difference in house edge between games using varying numbers of decks.

Variations Of The Number Of Decks And Their House Edge

Understanding how many decks can be used in blackjack and how the number of decks affects the house edge, let’s also dive deeper into the specific house edge percentages of each of the popular blackjack variations.

It is worth mentioning that house edge also depends on specific rules, like whether you are allowed to double after splitting, or whether the dealer will hit or stand on soft 17. That said, here’s the approximate house edge for different blackjack variants:

  • Single-Deck Blackjack – 0.15% House Edge
  • Double-Deck Blackjack – 0.34% House Edge
  • 4-Deck Blackjack – 0.49% House Edge
  • 6-Deck Blackjack – 0.55% House Edge
  • 8-Deck Blackjack – 0.57% House Edge

The prerequisite for these numbers is that you’re playing every variation optimally so that there’s no human factor that can affect these numbers. As you can see from the single-deck to the eight-deck variation, the difference in house edge is a notable 0.42%. This can make a substantial impact on your bankroll over time.

What Is The Best Variation To Play And Why?

If you want the lowest house edge and, therefore, a higher chance of winning, the answer is simple — single-deck blackjack is the best variation to play. There are not many secrets behind this. It simply boils down to math and percentages.

Keep in mind that the fewer decks there are in the game, the lower the house edge will be. Of course, this is if you’re playing the game optimally and using a blackjack strategy chart to ensure you always make the right decision based on your hand and the dealer’s up card.

Moreover, if you’re playing it live in a casino, single-deck blackjack is also the best variation to pick for card counting. Just be aware that casinos frown upon this and that you might get banned from the venue if you get caught counting cards.

With all of this said, if you’re a casual blackjack player, it’s more important to master the basics of the game than to focus on playing the blackjack variation with the lowest number of decks. Ultimately, this factor only comes into play if you’ve already optimized your decision-making and want to lower the house edge as much as possible.

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