Single-Deck Blackjack Strategy

A comprehensive guide to single-deck blackjack strategy, tips, charts, and optimum plays. Learn how to win at single-deck blackjack with this article!

Blackjack is one of the most popular and widely played casino games and this is largely because of the low house edge that the game promises. Now, blackjack can be played with a single deck of cards as well, apart from the classic multi-deck games.

With the ultimate objective being the same, a blackjack strategy focused on playing with one deck is slightly different and provides more opportunities for the players to win, but also many misplayed hands. Let’s explore in detail.

Single Deck Blackjack Rules

In a single-deck blackjack, the main objective of the player is to get a 21 or as close to it as possible without busting. Most of the rules for single-deck blackjack are the same as they are for multi-deck games and can be summarized as follows:

  • Only a single deck of cards is used and it is shuffled before the beginning of the gaming session
  • Players can split a hand up to 3 times
  • The dealer hits on soft 17
  • Aces can be split and players get one card to each ace, which cannot further be re-split
  • The total of a hand with a split ace and a 10 value card is not a blackjack
  • The payout for blackjack is 3:2, winning insurance bets payout is 2:1 and the same for the other winning hands is 1:1

Single vs Multiple Deck Blackjack

In both single-deck and multi-deck blackjack, the objective is to get a hand total of 21 without busting. The approach, gameplay, and strategies, however, vary in a single-deck blackjack game.

  1. A single deck game, as the name implies, is played with only one deck of 52 cards whereas multi-deck games involve 4, 6, or 8 decks of 52 cards each.
  2. For single-deck blackjack games, the house edge is 0.15% whereas multi-deck blackjack games have a house edge between 0.46% to 0.65%.
  3. In many casinos, single deck blackjack pays out 6:5 (significantly increasing the house edge thereby) while multi-deck blackjack games payout 3:2.
  4. The house edge on insurance in single-deck blackjack is 5.9%, which is slightly higher than the standard 5.8% for multi-deck blackjack.
  5. In a single-deck blackjack, there are typically more options to doubling down than in a multi-deck game. This is because, in the former, there are fewer cards with 10, which reduces the chance of the player busting.
single-deck blackjack rules
Some important rules of single-deck blackjack.

How To Play Single-Deck Blackjack

There are some single-deck blackjack tips that can help players win at the table. To begin with, a player must consider the fact that in a single deck blackjack, every single card has a substantial impact on the distribution of the remaining cards in the deck. This is an advantage for the players and it also highlights the necessity of paying close attention to the cards being dealt and played.

The double down rules are different for a single-deck game and should be considered seriously. So, if you double down after a split, you can choose to be a bit more aggressive by splitting a pair of 3’s if the dealer shows 2 or 3, instead of just 4 through 6.

Similarly, you should surrender very strategically and only when it is the best option. For instance, if you are dealt a pair of 7’s and the dealer has a 10, the odds are absolutely against you so, you can certainly surrender at this point.

The dealer standing on soft 17 is a good opportunity for the player again to increase the odds and beat the dealer with certain plays. A very important 1-deck blackjack strategy is that you should never take insurance or even money because the house edge on insurance in a single-deck blackjack is 5.9%.

Single-Deck Blackjack Card Counting

Card counting is the legal technique used by blackjack players to identify the instances when the odds can shift in the favor of the player. Single-deck blackjack games are often considered to be favorable for card counting because keeping track of the cards becomes easy when the effect of removing individual cards from the deck is so significant.

That being said, one-deck blackjack games are rarely played in casinos these days. Even if you play a single-deck blackjack online, the cards are auto reshuffled and in that case, card counting ceases to be of much importance.

Optimum Plays

The strategy for blackjack with a single deck leads to certain optimal plays that can guide the players in taking the right action at the right time. Here are the optimal plays for hitting, doubling, standing, and pairs summed up in lists.

Hitting

Hitting is the most common optimal play in a single-deck blackjack game much like it is in a game with 6 or 8 decks of cards. Players need to Hit on most pairs except for the pair of 8, 9, 10, and aces and in situations when they must depend on the dealer’s hand. A Hit is also a must for the soft hands except for A-8, A-9, and A-10. For the hard hands too, the player needs to Hit for most cards (depending on what the dealer shows) except for 17-21.

Doubling

Doubling is a preferred optimal play in a 1-deck blackjack and it is done in many situations and hands but usually, after determining the dealer’s hand. For instance, when the player gets a 5-5 pair and the dealer shows 2-9, doubling is the right play. Similarly, for most of the soft hands of the player coupled with the dealer showing a 4-6, 3-6, 2-6, and a 6, doubling is a must. The same rule goes for the hard hands except for a hand of 5-7, which calls for a Hit, and 17-21, which calls for a Stand.

Standing

As a single deck blackjack strategy, a player must optimally Stand on the hard hand of 17-21 and on the soft hands of A-9 and A-10. If the player gets an A-7 and the dealer shows 3-6, the player must stand on 2, 7 and 8. For the 10-10 pair also, a stand is the best action.

Pair Splitting

A player’s action in a single-deck blackjack game when dealt the following pairs should be:

  • 2-2: Split if the dealer shows 3-7, or else Hit
  • 3-3: Split if the dealer shows 4-7, or else Hit
  • 4-4: Split if the dealer shows 4-6, or else Hit
  • 5-5: Double if the dealer shows 2-9, Hit on aces and 10
  • 6-6: Slit if the dealer shows 2-7, or else Hit
  • 7-7: Split if the dealer shows 2-7, Stand on 10 and Hit on 8, 9, and ace
  • 8-8: Always split
  • 9-9: Split if the dealer shows 8-9 and 2-6, or else stand
  • 10-10: Always Stand
  • Ace-Ace: Always Split

Blackjack pair splitting is a huge part of a profitable strategy and it is crucial to know when to jump on an opportunity, and when to let it go.

Single-Deck Blackjack Charts

Use this single-deck blackjack strategy chart for hard hands, soft hands, and splits.

Single-Deck Blackjack Chart (Hard, Soft, Splits)
Single-Deck Blackjack Chart (Hard, Soft, Splits)

If you are uncomfortable reading blackjack charts, make sure you read our blog post on how to properly read and understand a blackjack chart.

Single Deck Blackjack – FAQ

Here are the answers to the most common questions about playing blackjack with only one deck of cards.

What are the single-deck blackjack rules?

The main rules of single-deck blackjack include the use of just one deck of cards, the ability of the player to split a hand up to 3 times, the value of aces as 1, and the dealer hits on soft 17. The doubling down options are also varied in single-deck blackjack when compared to multi-deck blackjack games.

Each blackjack variant will generally adapt its rules based on the number of decks used to play. Side bets may also vary substantially depending on how many decks are used.

Is single-deck blackjack still played?

Single-deck blackjack is still played but in a very few casinos. For instance, presently, only two casinos in Las Vegas offer single-deck blackjack with a 3:2 payout. All the other single-deck blackjack games are played at a payout of 6:5 on a natural.

Why is single-deck blackjack so rare in casinos?

Single-deck blackjack is rare in casinos because of the very low house edge, which is around 0.15% for these games. Additionally, counting cards with a single deck is very easy for experienced blackjack players.

How to win at single-deck blackjack?

To win at a single-deck blackjack, a player must follow the basic blackjack strategy. Plus, he should never take insurance or even money because the house edge on the same in 5.9% as the most important strategy.

Is card counting a good strategy for single-deck blackjack?

Card counting is a good strategy for single-deck blackjack because the removal of individual cards has a significant effect on the game. However, in online single-deck blackjack, the cards are auto reshuffled so, counting might not work in the favor of the player.

Can you play blackjack with one deck of cards?

Yes, single-deck blackjack can be played with just one deck of cards.

How to count a single deck of cards in blackjack?

Players can count a single-deck of cards in blackjack by first assigning a value to each card. Then, he needs to keep a running count of these values based on the cards already dealt.

Is single deck blackjack better than multi-deck?

Single-deck blackjack is often considered to be better than multi-deck games because of the low house edge of 0.15%. Also, certain moves such as doubling down, are more advantageous to the players in a single-deck blackjack.

Where to play single-deck blackjack online?

Some of the online single-deck blackjack casinos include Blackjack Pro by Playtech, Microgaming Blackjack, Vegas Single Deck Blackjack and Rival Gaming Casinos among a few others.

What is the best single-deck strategy on a dealer soft 17?

The best single-deck blackjack strategy on a dealer soft 17 is to double if allowed, otherwise Hit, both when the dealer stands or hits on soft 17.

So, a single deck blackjack game can actually be advantageous for the players because of a low house edge and many other factors. However, it is imperative for the player to follow the strategy and also, stay aware of the house rules to make the most of the gameplay.