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Playing Single Deck Blackjack at a Live Casino
It’s not easy to find a real or live casino where you can play Single Deck Blackjack Live. Still, there are many fans of this blackjack variant and in online casinos it is often available as one of many blackjack versions. What makes it so popular for blackjack players (and specifically, experienced blackjack players)? What makes it different from the regular blackjack game as played in all casinos? Let’s have a closer look at Single Deck Blackjack.
First, what does Single Deck Blackjack Live mean?
Some people think that Single Deck Blackjack live is a blackjack variant that has been created as a spin-off of the traditional blackjack game. However, the opposite is true. Originally blackjack was played with a single deck of 52 cards. Like most people at home play all kinds of games with one or two decks of cards. However, since a single deck is not that handy in case you want to streamline your game process (so, in case you run a casino), it was a logical step in professional casinos to use several decks together. Also, because it significantly improves the casino house edge as we will see in this blog. Therefore, nowadays typically 6 or 8 decks are used for blackjack in brick-and-mortar and live casinos.
No difference in blackjack gameplay
For the blackjack game itself, there are no differences between Single Deck Blackjack and the default blackjack versions. Both games follow these steps:
- The objective for the player is in all versions the same: To come closer to 21 points than the dealer. Closer to 21 points, or exactly 21 points (which is called blackjack). But not over 21 points, since then you bust and automatically lose the game.
- The player receives two cards at the beginning of the game. The dealer also gives himself two cards. One of the dealer cards is visible to all players in the game, and the other one (the hole card) stays closed until all players have finished their round of blackjack.
- The first player can now play his round. Based on his own cards and the dealer card he can decide to ask for another card (hit) or stand. The player can repeatedly hit until he busts or decides to stand. As soon as the player stands or busts, his round is over.
- Then a second player can play his round and so on.
- When all players have finished their round (with either a blackjack, a stand or a bust), it is the dealer’s turn. The dealer must follow strict casino rules. Typically he must draw to 16 and stand at 17 or more points.
- After the dealer’s turn, all player hands are compared with the dealer’s hand. Winning players receive their wins, and losing players lose their bets. In case of a tie (a push), you keep your bet.
There are some additional rules like Split, Double Down, Insurance, and Even Money. They are described in another article about the basic blackjack rules.
Impact of Single Deck Blackjack Live on your RTP
The RTP, the abbreviation for the Return-To-Player, is the percentage you win back (on average) from all bets you make in a casino game. Sometimes, not the RTP is listed but the casino house advantage (or house edge). The house advantage is exactly the opposite (100% – RTP) and is the percentage that the casino on average wins from all player bets.
For some casino games the RTP is below 90%, and many slot games for example have an RTP of around 96%. On the other hand, blackjack is a game with a very high RTP, nearly 99%. By playing the optimal blackjack strategy you can even further reduce the house edge and increase your RTP to nearly 99,5%.
And – this is the real differentiator – with Single Deck Blackjack live the house advantage is even lower. If you play the optimal strategy with a single deck of cards, the casino house edge can drop to 0,15%. Which makes your win chances nearly as good as the casino chances.
Be aware however for specific casino rules, specially invented by casino owners to solve this extremely low house edge. The most common example is that some casinos reduce the blackjack pay-out from 3:2 to 6:5 for Single Deck Blackjack. Don’t play these versions, since the house edge immediately rises to around 1,45%. Which is worse than regular blackjack.
Also interesting for card counters?
Some people state that Single Deck Blackjack live is attractive for card counters since it is easier to remember cards from a single desk. That’s not entirely true, but card counters certainly do benefit from a single deck. Card counters in general don't have to remember individual cards. So, using a single deck is not so relevant from that point-of-view.
Card counting at Blackjack means that you count the balance between high and low cards that have been played. If many high cards are left in the shoe, this benefits the player, while many low cards are better for the casino. With 6 or 8 decks it takes a long time before these imbalances occur. And already long before, the decks are shuffled.
The advantage during a single round
However, with a few players and only a single deck, card counting can already offer an advantage during a single round of blackjack. Think for example about the scenario where the dealer card is a low card and also the players before you received a lot of low-value cards. So, for that reason also card counters may have a weak spot for Single Deck Blackjack live.
It is at the same time the reason that you won’t see many single deck offerings in regular and live casinos (although you will find tables in Las Vegas and Macau). While in an online casino with one player, card counting won’t be really effective. However, regardless of the potential card counting opportunities, you still enjoy the house edge of 0,15%!
Card Counting Explained
In the video below you can follow a clear explanation of how to “count cards” at a blackjack game. Please not that the video is not about playing single deck blackjack live but the general counting practice. As mentioned you will also notice that the card counter is not actually counting the card themselves. And last but not least do not mix up counting with a blackjack strategy as the perfect blackjack strategy is something completely different, more about that here.
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