Blackjack - Do Decks Really Matter?

Players who have spent any time at all researching popular blackjack strategies have likely noticed that many of the greats swear by games played with the fewest number of decks possible. Does it really matter, and how much does this really improve the player's odds?

The Standard Number of Decks

While blackjack games that take place at kitchen tables and in garages are typically only played with a single deck, this is not the case in casinos. The reasons behind this are many, but it is more than likely done in an attempt to deter card counters from guessing the cards in the remaining stack too easily. The number of decks used in casinos ranges from two to eight, with four being the most common and six trailing slightly behind.

Deck-Based Strategies

When a blackjack game is played with only one or two decks, the strategies associated with gameplay are generally more aggressive. This is because there are only so many cards in the shoe and players can easily recognize those cards that have already been played. For instance, there are only eight aces in two decks, so if six of those have already been played, the odds of another one appearing are relatively small.

Multiple Deck Games

Players who participate in multiple deck games will likely notice a bit of a change in the pay scale. This is because the player's odds are reduced significantly and the house attempts to compensate with a greater payout. While the payout for a blackjack in a single-deck game may be 3:2, the payout in an eight-deck game may be 2:1. This depends upon the casino and is not true in every situation.

Players should understand that the odds of winning a game of blackjack increase slightly for every deck that is removed from the shoe. Though slight, this difference may provide players with the edge they need to win more hands.