Single Deck Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the premier casino card games. It is hugely popular with gamblers both online and off. The game was first referenced as far back as the 17th Century and has since spawned numerous different iterations that all have different traits that appeal to different types of players. The marriage between luck and skill works perfectly in blackjack, where good game sense and correctly applied strategies can make all the difference for putting you ahead – while there is still the element of luck to keep things in the balance. Many of the game’s different variants tend to change the house edge, the number of decks played, and/or the conditions that need to be met for the player to take certain actions. The latter can be splitting and/or doubling down, for example. In this guide, we will be focusing on the single deck blackjack game variant.

What is single deck blackjack and how is it different?

The main difference between regular and single deck blackjack rules is, as the name suggests, the number of decks used. While American blackjack tends to use six to eight decks in a game, and the European versions tend to only use two, single deck blackjack is played using only a single deck that is shuffled after each game round. This has the advantage of pushing the house edge down even lower than what is seen in other variants. A lower deck count is typically favored by card counters as well, seeing as there are far fewer cards to account for each round. 

The low house edge often incentivizes casinos to make some changes to the rules. These changes are what you really need to be looking out for when choosing a table. For example, a common example is changing the payouts of scoring a blackjack from the standard 3 to 2, down to a 6 to 5 payout. This actually increases the house edge beyond other blackjack variants, thereby defeating much of the point of playing with a single deck in the first place. You will also need to be aware that this variant will often be excluded from promotional material of online casinos, due to the standard ruleset’s low house edge.

How to play – single deck blackjack rules

If you are already familiar with the rules of blackjack, then there isn’t much new to figuring out how to play single deck blackjack. The core rules of the game remain the same. The aim is still to score more than the dealer without reaching a value of more than 21. A hand can be split up to three times, except for Aces, which can only be split once. It is also not possible to score a blackjack of 21 from a split Ace. The dealer always hits on a soft 17 (i.e., a hand of 17 with an Ace valued as 11) and all other standard blackjack rules apply.

Anybody who has already played any type of blackjack before should have an easy time settling into the single deck variant. Also, new players should have an easy time of it since the major difference is based on the number of cards in play and not a change in the mechanics. It is worth pointing out again, though, that casinos may apply additional rules to single-deck games to compensate for the lower house edge. Therefore, you need to make sure you always double-check the rules before committing to a wager.

Payouts

In the standard single-deck ruleset, the payouts don’t change from the regular blackjack payouts. That means you can typically expect the standard 1 to 1 payout on a winning hand, except for scoring a blackjack, which pays out at 3 to 1. Winning an insurance bet comes with a 2 to 1 payout. Some casinos and specific tables will have modified payouts, basically defeating the point of a lower house edge that comes with playing with fewer decks. It is quite common to see a modified Blackjack payout of 6 to 5. This vastly diminishes the potential of actually gaining the elusive hand. It could even be the case at some casinos that it becomes tedious to look for a table with the standard ruleset, which has naturally driven down the popularity of the variant.

Single deck blackjack strategies and other helpful tips

The key component to be aware of, in single-deck games, is the fact that each card draw has a much bigger impact on the rest of the game. For example, if there are three players at the table (including yourself) and the other two have a massive stroke of luck by getting a pair of Aces each, there is no way that you could possibly draw a fifth Ace. The standard 52 deck only has four. This is, of course, an extreme example, but the principle applies to all draws. For instance, a player before you getting a card will have a much greater impact on the likelihood that you will draw the same card, simply due to there being fewer copies of it.

GoodLuckMate’s best tips for playing single deck blackjack:

  • Make sure you have a budget in mind before playing and stick to it
  • Pay extra attention to the other player’s hands before deciding your next betting action
  • It is advised to avoid insurance bets, as the house edge on them is huge at 5.9%
  • Always hit on a 5, 6, or 7
  • Always stand on a 17, 18, 19 or 20
  • Always split on double Aces
  • Be mindful that table rules might differ

House edge – what are your chances of winning?

The house edge of blackjack usually sits somewhere around 0.40% but can change drastically depending on the variant being played. The house edge for single deck blackjack, if all of the standard rules were followed, is actually non-existent. In fact, it would sit at -0.001%, which actually turns it into a player edge. In actuality, though, the house edge sits at 0.18% due to the dealer always hitting on a soft 17. This is still much lower than other variants, providing a tangible advantage and a reason why players choose to play at single-deck tables. 

However, as mentioned previously in this guide, it is common for a casino to change up the game rues to give itself a higher house edge. So, be sure to take the time to read up on the table’s rules. Spectating a few rounds is also a good way to get a grasp on the traits of the specific table.

Play single deck blackjack at online casinos

You will have a much better time looking for single deck blackjack online than at land-based casinos, simply due to the accessibility and the volume of games available. You might go into a local casino to check the various blackjack tables, only to find that they may have a couple of variants. The establishment is naturally limited by its size and will, therefore, have to prioritize certain games and variants over others. 

This is not a problem for online casinos, as their game collections have the potential to go into the thousands without having any negative impact on the player. Finding a single deck blackjack casino online can be done with a quick search through Google or by checking out the GoodLuckMate casino reviews, which go into detail about the site’s game collections.

As a side note, single-deck games will typically be excluded from a site’s promotions. Therefore, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with an offer’s terms and conditions before signing up at a site.

Live dealer games vs RNG games

Playing single-deck blackjack online can come in the form of a virtual table game or a live casino experience. Virtual table games are operated by a random number generator (RNG) algorithm designed to provide truly random outcomes without external influence. This is played between you and the computer alone. No other players will be able to enter the game. Many of these virtual games also allow you to bet on multiple hands per round – this is known as multi-hand blackjack. Virtual table games are generally popular with people who just want to wind down and enjoy a moment of peace and tranquility. 

Live dealer games, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to exude atmosphere and excitement via modern video streaming technology and professional dealers. You can interact with the dealer and other players through a live chat. The production qualities are usually top-notch, giving players an experience that is as close to the traditional casino feeling from the comfort of your own home. Plus, you can play the games on the go with a mobile device.

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