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Decks Based Blackjack Strategy

By: Shirley Spicer, Wednesday July 14th 2010
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It is a well known fact that the number of decks used in a blackjack game affects the house edge. Games with one deck offer significantly lower house edges as compared to games with multiple decks. In single deck games players can wager more aggressively and push home the advantage. Some of the areas in which this can be done are discussed in this article. The strategies described are based on the rule that the dealer will stand on soft 17 and that the multiple deck strategies are for games with 8 decks.

Blackjack strategies are based on the player’s hand value and the dealer’s up card and the same principle will be employed in the discussion. In the first section the discussion covers areas when the player has a hard hand value. In a multiple deck game it is advisable for the player to surrender if his hand value is 15 and the dealer is dealt a 10 value card or if his hand value is 16 and the dealer is dealt a nine, a 10 value card or an ace. Compared to this the player should surrender only on two instances when playing with a single deck. These are when his hand value is 16 and the dealer’s up card has a value of 10 or is an ace.

Continuing with the case of the player having a hard hand value, the player should double more often in a single deck game. In a multiple deck game the player should not double if his hand value is 8 or less. In a single deck game the player should double with a hand value of 8 provided the dealer’s up card is a five or a six. In a multiple deck game when the player has a hand value of 9 he should double when the dealer’s up card ranges from a three to a six. In a single deck game when the player has a hand value of 9 he should double when the dealer’s up card ranges from a two to a six. In a multiple deck game when the player has a hand value of 11 he should always double, except when the dealer’s up card is an ace. In a single deck game when the player has a hand value of 11 he should always double, even when the dealer’s up card is an ace.

Similarly when the player has a soft hand value he should double more often when playing blackjack with a single deck. If the dealer’s up card is a two then in the multiple deck game the player should never double. But in this case in the single deck game the player should double with a soft hand value of 17. If the dealer’s up card is a four then in the multiple deck game the player should double when his hand value ranges from a soft 15 to a soft 18. But in this case in the single deck game the player should double with a soft hand value ranging from 13 to 18. If the dealer’s up card is a six then in the multiple deck game the player should double when his hand value ranges from a soft 13 to a soft 18. But in this case in the single deck game the player should double with a soft hand value ranging from 13 to 19.

It is impossible to logically arrive at these differences in strategies at the blackjack table. They have been arrived at based on computer simulations and have to be learned.

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