How To Beat the House With Single-Deck Blackjack Strategy

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A croupier lays a seven of hearts on a green blackjack table in a casino
BetMGM Dec 15, 2023, 4:42 AM

Hoping to mold a winning blackjack strategy for single-deck games? You’re in good company. Single-deck blackjack, also often referred to as single-hand blackjack, is a version of the classic traditional and online casino game that’s played, as the name suggests, with only one deck of cards. This is a big deal because the fewer the decks, the better your chances of winning.

Read on to learn more about the difference between single- and double-deck blackjack and how to make the most of the single-deck blackjack odds, whether playing online or in person.

What’s the Difference Between Single- and Double-Deck Blackjack?

The main difference between single-deck and double-deck blackjack lies in the number of decks used in the game. As their names suggest, single-deck blackjack is played with one deck of 52 cards, while double-deck blackjack uses two decks, amounting to 104 cards. This distinction, though seemingly small, leads to several key differences in how the games are played and the strategies players should use:

Card-Counting Difficulty

Card counting is a popular and potentially profitable strategy in blackjack. Unsurprisingly, it’s easier to count cards in a single-deck game because there are fewer cards to track (although the more frequent shuffling can throw some card counters off more on that below). In contrast, double-deck blackjack makes card counting more complex due to the increased number of cards.

House Edge

The house edge in blackjack is affected by the number of decks used. Generally, the fewer the decks, the lower the house edge. This means single-deck blackjack often has a slightly lower house edge compared to double-deck blackjack, provided the rules are similar.

Shuffling Frequency

In single-deck blackjack, shuffling occurs more frequently since there are fewer cards. This frequent shuffling can disrupt card-counting strategies. In double-deck games, shuffling happens less often, allowing more play before the cards are reshuffled.

Gameplay Variations

Some rules and playing strategies can vary between single and double-deck games. For example, the dealer may hit or stand on a soft 17 differently in these games, and players might have different splitting and doubling-down options.

Betting Strategies

With more cards in play in double-deck blackjack, fluctuations in the odds are less abrupt compared to single-deck games. This can influence betting strategies, as the probability of certain outcomes changes differently as cards are dealt.

Payout Differences

Some casinos adjust the payouts in single-deck games to maintain their house edge, often offering a 6:5 payout for blackjack instead of the standard 3:2. This is less common in double-deck games.

Card Counting: A Game Changer

Card counting is a technique that can give you an edge in blackjack and it’s quite a common component in many gamblers’ blackjack single-deck strategy. Ultimately, it’s all about keeping track of the high and low cards that have been dealt. Here’s a basic way to do it:

  1. Assign Values: High cards (10s and aces) are -1, low cards (2-6) are +1, and the rest are 0.
  2. Keep a Running Count: As cards are dealt, add or subtract their value from your running count.
  3. Adjust Your Bets: When the count is high (lots of high cards left in the deck), increase your bets. When it’s low, decrease them.

Remember, card counting isn’t illegal, but casinos don’t like it. In most cases, if they suspect you’re counting cards, they might ask you to leave.

Tips for Making the Most of Single-Deck Blackjack

Here are some tips to keep in mind when playing single-deck blackjack:

  1. Learn Basic Strategy: This is a set of guidelines on when to hit, stand, split, or double down based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard. Stick to it!
  2. Avoid Insurance Bets: These are generally not worth it as they increase the house’s edge.
  3. Watch the Payouts: Make sure you’re playing at a table that offers 3:2 payouts for blackjack, not 6:5.
  4. Stay Disciplined: Don’t chase losses and keep your emotions in check.
  5. Understand Deck Penetration: This refers to the percentage of cards dealt before the deck is reshuffled. Higher deck penetration (more cards dealt) is beneficial for card counters as it offers a more accurate gauge of what remains in the deck.
  6. Refine Card Counting Techniques: Card counting requires practice. Start by practicing at home with a single deck of cards. Stick to simpler counting systems like the hi-lo system, which is effective yet straightforward, especially in a single-deck game.
  7. Mind Your Bankroll: Decide on your betting limits before you start playing and adhere to them. Only bet a small percentage of your bankroll on each hand to minimize the risk of losing everything quickly.
  8. Emotional Control: Don’t let wins or losses affect your playing strategy or your emotional state. Keep a level head to make the best decisions. If you find yourself getting frustrated or angry, take a break. Playing while on tilt can lead to poor decisions.
  9. Practice Online and Offline: Use one-deck blackjack online simulators to work on your skills. Many websites offer free single-deck blackjack games. It’s also a good idea to play with friends or practice alone by dealing cards to yourself. This can help in mastering both basic strategy and card counting.

As you can see, single-deck blackjack offers a unique opportunity to reduce the house edge and use techniques like card counting more effectively. By understanding the rules, mastering basic strategy, and practicing regularly, you can increase your chances of beating the house. Remember, it’s about skill, discipline, and a bit of luck. Enjoy the game.

Play Casino Table Games Online at BetMGM

Now that you have a good idea of blackjack strategy for single-deck games, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test. Choose BetMGM for online blackjack live dealer games, along with other casino table games, live dealer casino games, online slots, and more.

Register when you’re ready to explore the full offering.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.