How Many Decks are Used in Blackjack?


What is one of the most popular, favorite casino game among gamblers? Blackjack.

With the right blackjack strategy, players can increase their chances of beating the dealer. It’s even better if players are using a blackjack card counting strategy. So how do casinos improve their house edge and defend against card counting? By adding more than one deck of cards to the card dealing shoe. The number of decks used is not fixed, and every casino offers something different. Below we go into the reasons why and also how to spot the best blackjack game to play.

Why do Casinos use Extra Decks of Cards?

There are good reasons why casinos in the United States and Las Vegas use, on average, between six to eight decks of cards in a blackjack game. The first reason is that a single-deck blackjack game requires the dealer to shuffle the cards more often. This takes time, and in a casino, time is money. Therefore, the casino uses up to eight decks of cards, so the dealer doesn’t have to stop as often to shuffle the deck.

The other reason why casinos will add more decks is related to the house edge. The house edge will become better for the casino when more decks are added to the game. This is because it is harder for players to keep track of the cards and makes card counting more difficult.

Impact of House Edge by Number of Decks:

Decks House Advantage
1 0.17%
2 0.46%
4 0.60%
6 0.64%
8 0.66%

(Source: Wikipedia)

Notice the dramatic difference of 0.29% by doubling the number of decks. By using 6 to 8 decks, casinos will have nearly the maximum house advantage (as more decks do not increase the odds much) and give a good amount of playing time per dealer shoe.

Another important thing to note is that the extra decks provide a larger burn pile of cards. When you are sitting at a table with six to eight decks, the croupier will cut the shuffled cards with a plastic card before placing the deck into the card shoe.

After dealing games, the croupier will reach the position of the plastic card, and this means the useable portion of the cards is finished. To continue playing, the croupier will shuffle a new set of decks to put in the shoe. That means players don’t know how many face cards are left in play because many cards will never be used for the game. This makes knowing the card count impossible and turns the house edge more into the casino’s favor.

How many Decks are Played in Online Blackjack?

Online blackjack tables are a different game entirely as these virtual games use random number generators to shuffle the cards. The cards are shuffled after each round of betting because it takes no time for the computer to shuffle the deck. Because of this, you may wonder if it matters how many decks of cards are in play. This is largely true, some casinos will offer single-deck versions, and others will have multiple decks. The best thing to check for online blackjack games is the Return to Player (RTP).

Find the blackjack game with the highest payout setting and stick with that one. Another good tip is to look for an online casino with bonuses you can use while playing blackjack. Some casinos will not allow RNG blackjack games to count towards your bonus wagering requirement, and others will drop the contribution down to 10%. Avoid these casino bonuses if you want to play them with blackjack, as you will not convert the bonus to real money.

How Many Decks are Used in Live Blackjack Games?

deck of cards sitting on green felt

Deck of cards.

Playing online blackjack in a live dealer environment has become hugely popular. These games take place in a real casino studio with professional croupiers. All the betting action is streamed in real-time straight to your screen. This allows you to enjoy a fully immersive blackjack experience without having to leave your home. So, how many card decks are used in live dealer blackjack games? This number is the same as regular land-based casinos, with the usual six to eight decks in play.

Live online blackjack and land-based casinos suffer from the same weakness of a single-deck game; therefore, they will use a multi-deck strategy to ensure their house advantage. Also, these live studio casinos run the same as regular casinos and do not want their dealers spending too much time shuffling. You may find the occasional single-deck live blackjack table, but they tend to burn the cards after every round. To cut down on shuffling time, these games will use an automatic card shuffler. The croupier will use two decks for the game, one in-play while the other one is being shuffled. After each betting round, the croupier will swap the card decks, making it a single-deck blackjack game without all the delay.

Blackjack is the game where the house edge can be cut down to almost even. When you play the blackjack tables, you should learn how to play blackjack to give yourself the best chance of leaving with a profit. You should take some time to study blackjack strategies such as doubling at the right time or the Martingale strategy. This will help you minimize the house edge and give you more confidence when you’re at the tables. You can find plenty of information on the blackjack strategy online.

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