If you’re relatively new to blackjack, you might be overwhelmed by the different options that are available in casinos. There are different rule variations, different payouts and a different number of decks. Most Vegas casinos use six or eight decks, but you will sometimes find blackjack tables with a single deck. So should you play at those tables?
Probably not. You see, fewer decks tilts the odds slightly toward the player. The tilt is greater if you are counting cards, because it makes it easier to keep track of the cards that have been played. If a casino offers a rule variation, it’s usually not out of the kindness of their heart so they can give you more money. It’s simply a way to get more people playing. Therefore, if they have a variation that lowers their house edge, they usually change some other rule to compensate for that.
When it comes to single-deck games, the casino usually changes the payout for a natural blackjack. In normal games, a natural blackjack – an ace and ten in your first two cards – pays out 3:2. For single-deck games, the payout for a natural blackjack is usually 6:5. That’s a big difference.
To show how much of a change it is, let’s use an example of betting $10 per hand for an hour. On average, if you played blackjack continuously for one hour, you would play 100 hands. Statistically speaking, if you play a single-deck game that pays 3:2 for a blackjack, you will lose $1.80 in one hour of play. Not bad. However, if the single-deck game pays 6:5 for a blackjack, you will lose $14 in an hour. Big difference, right?
That is why it’s so important to know the odds of the different blackjack games and know how the number of decks and the payouts affect the odds. Playing at a casino has bad enough odds as it is; don’t help the casino out by playing games that don’t have the best odds for you.