Blackjack is famous for being one of the most accessible casino games around. It’s you and the dealer with two hands, and the person who gets closest to a total of 21 without going over (or bust) wins.

However, did you know that there are a few different ways that you can play blackjack, and some of these different rules depend on the number of decks you have in play?

When you’re playing a physical game of blackjack at home, you can get started with just one deck of standard 52 playing cards. However, there are a few reasons why you find casino dealers using multiple blackjack decks at once.

The number of decks used in casino blackjack vary between one and eight. There’s actually no restriction or rule in place to say how many you must use in a standard game.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between single and multi blackjack deck games, why the distinction matters, and why casinos opt for several decks rather than one in most cases.

What’s the difference between single deck and double deck?

The main difference between single and double blackjack deck games is, of course, that it’s one deck of 52 cards vs two decks, meaning that there are 104 cards in play.

Single-deck blackjack is relatively simple. Only one of each card can appear at any one time during the game, meaning that some players have more of a grip on what to expect.

Casinos and dealers, however, frequently prefer to use a double deck instead. With two decks, there are twice the number of cards, as mentioned, and this gives you a little more complexity. It means that it’s more difficult to predict which cards are coming next.

Also, with double-deck blackjack (and more decks on top), the house edge goes up. This means that the casino hosting the game tends to get more revenue the more decks are in play. This can sometimes mean that the odds increase against the player. As simple as blackjack might appear, there are a few other complexities in play that affect these chances.

Physical blackjack dealers tend to prefer using multiple decks simply because it means less shuffling. If they use just one deck when they start the game, they need to shuffle it after every round. The more decks you play with, the less need there is to shuffle from round to round.

Does the number of decks used change the way that you play the game?

Increasing the number of decks used in blackjack doesn’t affect the rules or even change the game up much for players. It simply means that it’s less likely that you can predict what cards are coming next, and it also means that you can get duplicates of some cards.

Allowing for card duplicates means that blackjack games can open up to side betting, such as the 21+3 wager. Blackjack 21+3 is where you not only play the basic game of blackjack, but also look for three-card poker hands in the cards you’re dealt.

This means that you might need to look for matching cards, which isn’t possible on a single-deck system. In fact, the more decks you play with, hypothetically, the more chances there will be for you to draw matching cards.

When playing a multi-deck game of blackjack, keep your eyes peeled for odds given to side bets. We don’t recommend that you make side bets at all, however, if you’re just getting started with the game.

How many decks in blackjack are best?

For players, it really depends on individual tastes and play styles. Shoe blackjack, as multi-deck games are sometimes called, tends to be faster-paced simply because the dealer isn’t shuffling as much. You can just leap from round to round.

In video or digital games of blackjack online, of course, there’s no dealer to worry about – shuffling is completely randomised due to how the games are programmed.

However, when playing blackjack at a land casino, or with a live dealer online, shoe blackjack is faster-paced than the average game. For some players, this can be more appealing than slower-paced games.

Ultimately, multi-deck or shoe blackjack games strive to be fair for everybody. Using multiple decks can mean, in physical settings, that it’s easier for dealers to manage multiple players at once at the same table.

For the full blackjack experience, it’s often best to look for multiple decks. This is especially the case if you want to try side bets or you want to see how the game is played traditionally in Las Vegas.

It’s rare that you will find casino tables offering single-deck blackjack as the standard. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to get acclimatised to the shoe format.

Does the number of decks matter?

The number of decks used in blackjack certainly matters for casinos and dealers. As mentioned, multi-deck games of blackjack remove the need for constantly shuffling between rounds, and it can also increase the house edge, resulting in a bigger return for the casino.

That said, there’s also the matter of card counting. Again, as mentioned briefly above, the more decks are in play, the more difficult it is to predict which cards are likely to appear in a hand.

This type of predictive strategy often lends itself to card counting. This is where blackjack players try to work out which cards have already been dealt during a round so that they can make more accurate plays.

Casinos frown upon card counting as it’s seen as cheating. It’s an unfair way to unbalance the game in favour of the player. Remember, casinos need to make money to keep running – they’re not going to let players get away with mathematically working out which cards are missing!

Therefore, one of the easiest and most effective ways of clamping down on card counting is to simply increase the number of decks used in games such as blackjack. This increases the chances of you drawing cards you don’t expect.

There’s never a guaranteed way to win at blackjack – and the same goes for however many cards or decks are in play. More decks never means that it’s easier to win or that you have a new set of shortcuts!

Like with all casino games, it’s healthy to take blackjack at face value. It’s a game of random chance, meaning that whether you play a single-deck game or play at a table using multiple decks at once, you’re never guaranteed to walk away with big prizes.

Getting started with multi-deck blackjack

A great way to start playing blackjack is to try playing it for free with a friend or family member at home. That way, the stakes are lower and there’s zero risk.

As stated above, you can always start playing single-deck blackjack so that you get used to the rules. However, if you prefer a challenge, and want to get used to the style of play offered at physical and online casinos, it’s more beneficial to use multiple decks in one game.

Be sure to check out TonyBet’s blackjack range, including single-deck blackjack and multi blackjack deck games and find a style that suits you!