Pros and Cons of Playing Single Hand vs. Two Hands in Blackjack

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a man placing poker chips down on a blackjack table as the dealer points at the playing cards on the table
BetMGM Jun 19, 2024, 5:43 PM

If you play games like live dealer blackjack at online casinos, you have probably seen players playing more than one hand at the table at a time. Depending on the casino’s rules and the number of hands in play, you might even be able to play up to three hands simultaneously. However, the rules remain the same; whether you’re playing single or multi-hand blackjack online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, you’re trying to secure a hand as close to 21 as possible. 

Although blackjack is easy to learn, it really is a game of endless flavors. Some games are played sleek with a single deck of 52 cards, while others are played with six or eight decks in the mix. This drastically increases the number of possible hands that can be made and, as a result, your chances of winning. These two variations are what are called single-hand and multi-hand blackjack.

Both single-hand and multi-hand blackjack come with dynamic experiences. When comparing multi-hand vs. single-hand blackjack, you’ll find that each version has definite advantages and disadvantages and when deciding which one is best for you, you’ll need to take all of them into consideration. Read on to arm yourself with enough insight to make informed decisions when you sit at the best online casino.

Understanding the Numbers

The most obvious difference between the two blackjack variants is the number of hands played in a single round. As the name suggests, single-hand blackjack involves playing one hand per round. As usual, you’re taking on the dealer. 

Now, have you ever seen a player start a shoe and then suddenly, in the middle of the shoe, spread to two hands? Some may simply start juggling two hands at once, round after round from the beginning. Most do this to change the flow of the game, mostly because they believe it’ll boost their luck

(Spoiler alert: you’re not guaranteed success just by spreading to two hands.)

What Do These Strategies Mean to the Gameplay?

In single-hand blackjack, where you play with two other players, you’ll be dealt roughly 100 rounds per hour. In two-hand blackjack, you can expect to be dealt roughly 160 rounds per hour. But when the house has the upper hand, faster gameplay means your bankroll is exposed. So, the more hands dealt, the more money lost.

But what if you decide to split your wager? Suppose that, instead of a $10 bet, you decide to split it evenly, betting $5 on each hand. What happens is that your hourly loss drops. If you had placed a single-hand bet of $10, your hourly loss is $5 (taking 100 hands an hour.) A two-hand bet lowers your hourly loss to $4 (taking 80 hands per hour, or 160 total.) This is a clear advantage to your gameplay. 

(Note: The decreased loss amount depends on the number of players at the table.)

So, you raise the game a notch. Suppose that instead of betting $10 dollars on one hand, you toss in $10 on each of the two hands, raising your bet to $20. Now your hourly wage has increased, consequently increasing your hourly loss, too. So, probably not the best move? 

But here’s the intriguing part: two hands in blackjack is a seesaw. Swinging $20 on one hand or $10 on each of two hands aren’t the same, even though the total bet amounts to the same ($20.) The reason is that the two hands are not independent of each other. They are in relation to the dealer’s hand. Hence, if the live casino dealer has a lousy hand, you are in for victories on both hands (and vice versa.)

In simpler terms, betting $10 on each hand means your bankroll will fluctuate less compared to going all in with $20 on one hand.

So in the world of blackjack at casino table games, players have their own compass. While some are happy to stretch their bankroll, with the aim of a sizable amount of time at the table, others are happy to chase the financial target they had in mind, for example, winning $100 with a $200 bankroll. 

Advantages of One Hand vs. Two Hands

So just what are the advantages of playing one-hand blackjack versus two-hand blackjack?

Single Hand

Two advantages of playing single-hand may jump out at you immediately. The first is the low house edge. However, this advantage is worth nothing if you haven’t mastered the basic strategy of blackjack. Only when you have done so will your chances of winning increase.

Another advantage is in the area of card counting. With the number of decks used in blackjack, counting cards becomes quite the challenge, as favorable counts are likely to take time to arrive. But with single-hand blackjack, you may have easily flipped the script. Since it is played with one deck only, card counters can take advantage and put in the big bets faster and sooner. Of course, this is only possible at land-based casinos because online blackjack shuffle decks after each hand.

Two-Hand Blackjack

Two-hand blackjack is a strategic way to spread your bet when the count is favorable. You can also bet half on each of two hands to reduce risk and variance, compared to single-hand play. Alternatively, you can bet with odds of -270 on two hands for the same risk as a single hand but with better potential and rewards.

Another advantage is that minimal bets on two hands can help “eat” small cards when the count is negative. Spreading to two hands in a heads-up increases your chances of being dealt high-value cards since this move pits your two hands against the dealer’s one hand. Another way to disguise your play and “eat” the small cards is to start with two minimal bets and then switch to one hand with larger bets as the count rises.

As you can see, the advantage of one-hand blackjack is the disadvantage of the two hands and vice versa.

Which Is Better: One Hand vs. Two Blackjack Hands?

So, which one is the better blackjack strategy to win? One hand or two? Before you decide on how many hands to play, you must take a moment to weigh your options. Usually, the best way to play blackjack is to consider your playing style, chosen strategy and the limits of your budget. While a play of two hands seems likely to double your earning and excitement, it also exposes you to heftier losses.

On the flip side, if you plan to use a mixture of strategies within the same game, two hands may be the right call. This can give you a more dynamic gaming experience as you have the opportunity to weave assorted strategies for each hand.

But if you are not exactly an expert at blackjack, multi-hand blackjack online may be a little overwhelming. Therefore, sticking to a single hand could be your smartest play until you become grounded on the basic strategies. Ultimately, you can determine which of the two strategies is the best way to play blackjack for you by playing both for yourself. 

Play All Hands at BetMGM

Maybe you’re keen to try these tactics playing live dealer blackjack or live dealer poker; either way, the excitement is limitless. BetMGM carries an array of games so that there is always something to enjoy, no matter your preferences. Register today to start your journey into the thrilling world of online casino games.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.