Blackjack – Number of Decks

Knowing the number of decks is important in any game of Blackjack as it’s a crucial factor which can alter both the odds and any potential tactics.  When you visit a casino it should be quite simple to identify how many decks are being used, or of course you can simply ask the dealer.

However for online blackjack it can be more difficult to determine, especially in the computer generated games although sometimes the answer is on their help/FAQ pages.

In general though, the more card decks are used the worse it is for the player so if given the choice always choose a game with the least number of decks in play.    Over the years, the number of decks has increased in nearly all  games simply to prevent card counting or various blackjack systems like Thorps 10 Count system.    The casinos have correctly figured out that the more decks there are the harder it is to keep track of the various suits and values.  Although Thorp’s system was later updated to include a plus-minus count in which the number of decks was largely irrelevant.

There is still a dealer advantage though with more decks although it is not as large as some would imagine.  The advantage is estimated at about .5 percent in using multiple decks simply because of the pool of cards left.  Although the ratio of ‘good’ cards doesn’t change when more decks are added – the number of these cards does meaning that the dealer has more chance of picking a better card when it plays.    This should mean that the dealer goes bust slightly less often than with a single deck of cards.

So how many decks is about average now? Well in most of the popular real life casinos, they generally play with about 4 decks at most of their tables.  However in some smaller casinos you can still find two or even single deck tables these should definitely be your priority if you can find them.  Generally just minimize the number of decks wherever you have the choice but remember the odds don’t change vastly due to this particular variable so careful strategy is still needed.

In fact despite this advantage many professional Blackjack players avoid single deck games simply because dealers and pit bosses are extremely vigilant in these games and it’s often difficult to play a system.    Single deck games often have the cards shuffled much more and each time this happens any advantage disappears.

Most games you will find played out on 4 deck tables but there are 5 and 6 card tables in many casinos.  These are very difficult to beat and even if you’re using correct blackjack basic strategy and a decent system you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to beat the dealer consistently enough to make a lot of money safely.

Just to Repeat –

Play on Blackjack Tables with the Fewest Number of Decks.