Everything You Need To Know About Single Deck Blackjack

Single deck blackjack is the simplest form of the game and offers a house edge which is smaller than games with multiple decks.

The first thing we need to do when examining single deck blackjack is to present a chart of basic blackjack strategy. Many sites have broken down this chart into three separate sections: hard totals, soft totals and pairs. Below, we have grouped them altogether for one simple single-deck blackjack cheat sheet.

Single Deck Blackjack Chart

Single Deck Blackjack Strategy Chart All Rules

Single Deck Blackjack vs Multideck

Single deck blackjack offers the player better chances to win than multi-deck. The house take is low even when the deck is shuffled after each hand.

Typically the return to player (RTP) on the best single deck game is 99.8%, whereas with 6 or 8 decks the RTP is around 99.5%.

This difference might not seem that significant, but if you start with a deposit of $100, you might place 1000 bets of $10 each. At the end of that time you would have, on average, $80 remaining at 99.8% but only $50 remaining if the RTP is 99.5%  

Of course, with just a smidgeon of good luck you can come out ahead and most of the welcome offers cover the potential loss.

Perfect play, particularly with more than one seat at single-deck, is quite complicated, but, if you follow the chart above, you will do well.

Wizard of Odds claims that Boss Media has a single-deck game with a payout of 100.15%, but I did not find it when I went through all the casinos on the site!

When To Take Insurance With Single-Deck Blackjack

Deciding whether to take insurance involves counting. It pays 2-1, and there are 41 cards remaining if you play five seats. If more than 13 of them are tens, then you should take the insurance bet. So, if you have seen only one or two tens, then it is right to take insurance.

The maximum number of tens on the table for it to be correct to take insurance depends on the number of seats playing, according to the following table:


If you are playing 2 or 3 seats, if you can see no ten on the table, then you should take insurance.

Counting Cards In Single Deck Blackjack

Every online single-deck game I have seen – and I have looked at over 140 online casinos who have welcome offers (most for slots) – shuffle after every hand.

If you think you can count, then there are many live-dealer games with six or more decks dealt from a shoe, which give the counter an edge, and that would be the subject of another article.

In Las Vegas, however, the couple of remaining single-deck games I have seen shuffle after about half a deck, and counting is relevant to the second and subsequent hands. The casino may well ask customers to leave, however, if they increase their bet dramatically when the count is high. But this is true of all blackjack games.

Choosing An Online Casino For Single Deck Blackjack

It is very important to play only at reputable licensed casinos.  Taking advantage of offers to join, and then playing single-deck blackjack correctly, gives you every chance to come out ahead. But, if there is a danger of not being paid, you want to avoid the site. Often bonuses seem too good to be true, and you should read the terms carefully, but more importantly, only play at top-rated casinos.

I did not find any single-deck games using the increasingly popular live-dealer method in which the cards are dealt with a shoe and shuffled in full view of the players.

This is partly because the cards would have to be shuffled after each hand, or the player would have a clear advantage, and this takes time. Secondly, it requires a dealer all the time which costs money. Playing more than one deal without a shuffle gives the player a significant advantage.

If you follow even just one principle, that should be to play only games that offer the fairer odds of 3 to 2 for blackjack. Offering 6 to 5 adds around 1.3% to the house edge.

Terms and Conditions

It is important to read the terms and conditions before signing up for a site which gives a welcome bonus, typically 100% of the amount you deposit. You would normally have to play through the bonus 35 times or more before you can withdraw your winnings.

Most sites also assign a percentage contribution to each game, and blackjack is usually 10% or 0%. If the latter, and you don’t want to play online slots or scratchcards, then you can look elsewhere.

Of course, you don’t have to take the bonus, but if you want to play a lot, then choose the site with the best bonus terms.

Best Single-Deck Blackjack Casino

Pride of place must go to MrVegas.com. It took me 43 seconds to open an account and no time at all to find the single-deck blackjack games on there. Both were by Microgaming. The five-seat game offers a slightly higher return:

One game had a single seat and another allowed play on up to five seats. They claimed a return to player of 99.7%, with perfect play. This tallies with simulations on my software Diable, which gives 99.81%. Both games have the same rules: Dealer peeks on tens or aces, no double after split, doubles only on 9, 10 and 11, and dealer must hit soft 17. This appears to be common for Microgaming.

Other Single-Deck Blackjack Casinos

  1. HippodromeOnline.com: The single deck Blackjack that they provide has a RTP of 99.7%.
  2. 32Red.com: Has the same single-deck Blackjack and a generous bonus.
  3. MrQ.com: They have two single-deck Blackjack games. Both multi-hand. The RTP is stated to be 99.9%.
  4. PinkCasino.com: Has the same single deck game, with an RTP of 99.7%.
  5. 21Casino.com: Has the same 99.7% single deck game as above.
  6. Peachygames.com: At the time of writing, the bonus CAN be used on Blackjack, so this is quite attractive as the game of Single Deck Vegas Blackjack has an RTP of 99.8%.
  7. VirginGames.com: This casino only admits UK players. Their single-deck games have an RTP of about 99.8% They also have a new single deck game with a side bet on the first three cards forming a straight flush, trips, straight of flush at 10-1. This is a bet to be avoided though as the RTP is only 95.48%.  
  8. JackpotJoy.com: Has two single deck games – one with the same 10-1 bet on the first three cards.
  9. Playgrand.com: Has a single-deck game and, at the time of writing, allows blackjack to count as 10% for the wagering requirement with a standard 100% deposit bonus and play through requirement.
  10. Betway.com: This is one of the best known names in the casino industry. They have a single-deck blackjack game with a return of 99.7%. Highly recommended – especially as they sponsor Arsenal!

Live Single Deck Blackjack In Vegas

Only two casinos were offering a single-deck game in Las Vegas, in October when I went for G2E, the International Casino Exhibition, in October.

One was El Cortez in Downtown Vegas, at 600 E Fremont Street.  Their website now says that they only offer double-deck however.

Silverton Casino Lodge, 3333 Blue Diamond Road, has single-deck blackjack and both El Cortez and Silverton pay 3 to 2 for Blackjack. This is the first question to ask, as paying 6 to 5 is very hard to beat. Someone on a forum claimed that Silverton had gone to 6 to 5, but I cannot verify that.

There is certainly a single-deck game in the casinos of West Wendover, Nevada, and, like a remote beach, this city has not been discovered by that many players yet! Single-deck games are also offered at casinos on some Indian reservations. Atlantic City does not have a single-deck game of which I am aware.

I am a member of many casinos in the UK (apart from one that excluded me!) and am not aware of any single-deck games. Two-deck games are common in European casinos, but again I do not know of any single-deck games.

Cheat Sheet for Microgaming Single-Deck Game

(Hole Card, Dealer Peeks, Dealer Hits Soft17, Double Hard 9-11 Only, No Double after Split, One Card to Split Aces)

Cheat Sheet for Microgaming Single-Deck Game

*13 v 2 is a stand, whatever the composition, although Wizard thinks 10-3 v a 2 is a hit. Some three or four-card totals can be slightly different, but the error would be tiny.

Lead image credit: Kitreel/Shutterstock