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In some ways, single-deck blackjack is actually the original version of the game. As its name suggests, it uses just one deck of cards in the shoe rather than shuffling several together to place in the shoe.
Typically, you’ll find most variants of blackjack on offer in casinos today use multiple decks. The most common numbers are four, six, and eight decks, though you can also find games with two.
The reason for adding the extra cards is that it makes life more difficult for card counters since it makes it trickier to track the value of the deck accurately. It also increases the house edge by a small but significant margin.
Single deck blackjack is much rarer than multi-deck options, though you can find it here at Wildz Casino among the many game variants we offer.
The rules of single-deck blackjack
There are no differences between the standard rules of Blackjack and the single deck variant. If you’ve already played the multi-deck options, you’ll already be up to speed in how to play with just one deck in the shoe.
It starts off with you and the dealer being dealt two cards each. Yours will be placed face up while at least one of the dealer’s will be face down.
You’ll then have the choice of whether to hit (take another card), stand (stick with what you have), surrender (give up the round in exchange for half your wager being returned), split your cards into two hands, or double down on your existing bet.
You aim to make your hand value add up to 21 or at least as close to it as possible. You can’t go over that number, though, if you do, this is called going “bust” and results in you losing that round.
Once you’ve made your hand and chosen to stand, the dealer will go through the same process as you. They will follow a strict set of rules that prescribe when they should hit and when they should stand.
In the end, whoever has the strongest hand wins.
It’s important to remember that there might be other players at the table at the same time as you, but you only need to beat the dealer.
Depending on where you play, there may be some minor differences in payouts that you receive, such as the one offered for getting blackjack which sometimes goes from the traditional 3:2 to the standard 1:1 awarded for other winning hands.
The strategy involved
If you’ve already explored our casino guide, you’ll know that experienced players deploy a few different strategies when playing blackjack. The idea behind these is that it allows them to play the statistically most efficient game, lowering the house edge.
For the most part, the blackjack strategy for single-deck versions is the same as multi-deck variants, though there are a couple of differences in a few combinations of hands and dealer upcards.
What are the main differences in playing single deck blackjack strategy?
There are almost no differences between how you play single-deck blackjack and versions of the game that have more decks in the shoe. All of the rules remain the same, all the blackjack hands are valued the same, and the target remains 21.
The same basic strategic principles remain the same too. However, there are minor differences around when to hit, double down, stand, and split.
For example, in games where there are between four and eight decks, you’ll always hit for a hard eight, regardless of what the dealer has. But in the single deck version, you’ll double down on the same hand when the dealer’s upcard is either five or six.
The differences are minor, and the standard basic and perfect strategies will work almost as well as the dedicated single deck strategy, but the latter is slightly more optimised for this variant.
By applying this strategy effectively, you can reduce the theoretical house edge of single deck blackjack to around 0.15%, one of the smallest you’ll find in a casino.