Best Strategies to BEAT the Casino When Playing Single-Deck Blackjack

A single-deck blackjack game? It couldn’t be that hard, right? With 52 cards on the shoe, following the basic strategy wouldn’t be that difficult. Single-deck blackjack games are considered as the Holy Grail of the card game because it’s easier to play and card counters don’t need to sweat to earn profits. Considering that the single deck blackjack house edge is also low, this blackjack game is probably one of the most sought-after tables.

If you’re a beginner, a single-deck game would be the perfect start to challenge your skills. This is also advisable for card counters who are still learning the ropes of keeping a running count. As you know, additional decks mean that the running count needs to be converted to a true count. Although it’s simple division, processing all of it in your head while playing needs a different level of dexterity.

In this post, we will cover the benefits and downsides of playing single-deck blackjack, strategies, bankroll, and more tips. Regardless if you’re a newbie or a veteran player, the following information will help you on your next play.

Pros and cons of single-deck blackjack

The first benefit of playing on a single deck is its lower house edge. If you’re playing on the standard American blackjack, the single deck blackjack house edge is at around 0.15% only. This gives you the single deck blackjack house edge chance to earn more money and flip the table on your advantage.

Another advantage of single-deck games is that card counters would find it a breeze to handle. Since there are only 52 cards being dealt, determining the composition of the shoe is way easy than card counting in a 4 or 8-deck gam

By using the basic strategy properly, you can walk out of the casino with reasonable cash.
And if you’re card counting, you don’t have to wait for long just for the shoe to get rich. But as much as a single-deck setup is beneficial, it comes with some downsides as well.

 

On the flipside, single-deck blackjack also has some disadvantages. The casino knows that a single-deck game has a very low house edge so they will try to pull the strings for their benefit by imposing sucker rules and limitations.

Such a thing will inflate the house edge. What’s worse is that some casinos will only offer single-deck tables on a payout of 3:2. And as experts advise, it’s better to play on a 4-deck game with a 3:2 blackjack payout than in a single-deck that pays a measly 6:5 rate.

Lastly, casinos don’t give many comps to single-deck players. If you’re playing for long hours, that’s a big loss on your part.

Using the blackjack basic strategy card to win

We’ve said this before and we’re going to repeat it like a broken record: master the basic strategy first. The basic strategy provides a mathematical set of moves that will put your hands in an optimal standing against a dealer card.

But is the basic strategy the best technique to use? For beginners and blackjack in general, it is. But there are limitations to this like any other strategies.

First, you can’t beat the casino by simply playing by the basic strategy. It doesn’t give you an edge against the house.
Instead, the basic strategy tries to minimize your losses and possibly cutting the single deck blackjack house edge by 0.05%. This isn’t a big blow to the casino, but it’s still the best thing you can do as a beginner.

 

The basic strategy is the foundation of your play. From here, you’ll incorporate other knowledge and techniques that will directly give you the upper hand on the table. Some of this is card counting, playing deviations, and betting deviations.

For starters, I recommend that they use flash cards to memorize the basic strategy.

Not familiar with blackjack rules? Here’s a refresher from Vegas Aces:

Blackjack basic strategy card – single deck

For game proper, here are the moves when playing by the basic strategy. Check this chart courtesy of Wizard of Odds. In this game, the dealer stands on Soft 17 and the players follow the standard American blackjack rules where surrender is allowed:

single deck blackjack house edge

Can’t read the charts? Here are the moves in bullet points:

Hard hands

♥️For 5 to 7 hands, always hit

♥️If you have an 8 hand, always hit, but double against a dealer’s 5 or 6 if allowed.

♥️For a hand of 9, double against a dealer’s 2 to 6. For the rest, hit.

♥️When dealt with a 10 or 11 hand, always double down. Hit at this situation: a hand of 10 vs. a dealer’s Ace or 10

♥️For a hard 12, always hit but stand if the dealer has 4, 5, or 6.

♥️If you have hard hands of 13 to 15, always stand against a dealer’s 2 to 6; hit from 7, 8, 9, 10, and Ace.

♥️For a hard 16, always hit, but stand if the dealer has 7, 8, or 9; surrender if the dealer has 10 or Ace.

♥️For the hard 17 and up, always stand.

Soft hands

♥️For soft 13 to soft 16 hands, always hit but double down if the dealer has 4, 5, and 6

♥️If you have a soft 17, double down if the dealer has 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

♥️For soft 18, double down if the dealer has 3 to 6; hit if the dealer has 9 and 10; stand against 2, 7, 8, and Ace

♥️For soft 19, always stand but double if the dealer has 6.

♥️If you have soft 20, always stand.

Splitting rules

♥️Always split a pair of Aces and 8s

♥️Split a pair of 9s unless the dealer has 7, 10, or an Ace. Hit on these exceptions.

♥️For a pair of 7s, split against a dealer’s 2 to 7, double after a split against an 8, surrender against a 10, and hit against 9 and an Ace.

♥️If you have a pair of 6, split if the dealer has 2 to 6. Split against a 7 if DAS is allowed and hit if the dealer has 7 to Ace.

♥️For a pair of 4s, always hit but split if the dealer has 4, 5, and 6 and DAS is allowed

♥️If you have a pair of 3s, split if the dealer has 4 to 7. If DAS is allowed, split of the dealer has 2, 3, and 8. Otherwise, hit. Against 9, 10, and Ace, always hit.

♥️For a pair of 2s, split if the dealer has 3 to 7; hit if the dealer has 8 to Ace. If the dealer has 2 and DAS is allowed, split. Otherwise, hit.

In case there’s a splitting limit that prevents you from splitting your pairs, consider your hand for a hard total. Refer to the moves from there. This is especially true if you’re playing a blackjack variation that prohibits players from splitting certain pairs (e.i. 5-5 in pontoon blackjack).

For a game where the dealer hits at Soft 17, you can find the chart on this complete list of Wizard of Odds.

 Side bets and payouts

Like any deck-game, there are side bets in the single-deck version of blackjack. The general rule is you should never take insurance money unless you’re card counting. Insurance bets on a single-deck blackjack have a house edge of 5.9% which is too much in comparison to a regular hand’s roughly 0.5%. As for even money, never take it either the same way you should shun 6:5 payouts.

Even if insurance pays 2:1, it’s not a worthy wager if you’re placing bets based on gut feel. It’s very easy to calculate the house edge on insurance on a single deck game. Out of the 52 cards, there are 35 non-face cards and 16 face cards.

Since the Ace is already exposed, the edge winning insurance is 3/51 or roughly 5.88%. After all, there’s a solid reason why experts warn about betting on insurance.

Card counting in a single-deck blackjack

Given that the table you’re playing on doesn’t use an automatic shuffler, card counting is pretty simple. You only need to maintain a running count where you’ll base your deviations and strategies. But even if a single deck is easy to deal with and there’s no true count to be calculated, always practice before heading to a casino.

As always, the Hi-Lo method never grows old, especially for this single-deck game. By keeping track of the low and high-value cards remaining on the shoe, you’ll know how likely it is for you to bust or win.

 

Card counting is the only way to slash the single deck blackjack house edge and to beat the casino.Every time a card is dealt on the table, the player will add, subtract or do nothing on the running count. The higher the running count is the more high-value cards remain in the deck. The casino’s edge also decreases.

 

The variance in the running count will dictate how winnable certain hands are against a specific dealer up-card. Card counting is also a good way to weather insurance bets since you’ll know how many 10 cards are left in the shoe.

Remember that you’re card counting for the sake of changing your play when the shoe is in your side. If you don’t practice deviations from the basic strategy as dictated by the running count, you’re just wasting your brain cells. For example, if you know that your hand is likely to win based on a running count, you can double down if allowed. This way, you can maximize your wins aside from hitting the balance of risky and safe play.

To guide you on card counting, here’s Colin Jones with the staples:

Betting on a single-deck blackjack

Just because it’s a single-deck blackjack doesn’t mean you’re going to bring excessive money and confidence into the casino. As much as the house edge is low, managing your bets is important to ensure that you’re earning profits from the hands you’re playing.

For this part, we will look into betting deviations and betting strategies you should do and those that you need to avoid. But first, let’s take a look at your single-deck bankroll.

Let’s say that you’re playing 100 hands per hour for $1 each. This leaves you with a $100 bankroll for a one-hour session.

 

So, do you bet in a consistent $1 for the whole game? Nah, flat betting is the thing of pit bosses who want to ruin the play of a card counter.

 

When the running count becomes high (meaning you have the advantage), you can increase your bet by another dollar. This way, you can have better EV. I suggest that you stick to a certain spread, say $1 to $10. When the shoe is rich, you can hit the table with a maximum of $10. This way, the pit boss won’t notice easily and you can control any impulse to high-roll without a plan.

You can apply the same logic to a higher amount and a different betting unit number. What’s important is you have an expected EV at the end of the session.

If you lose a quarter of your bankroll, consider walking away. For card counters, this can be regained once the running count is getting better.

Conclusion

Before playing, always consider the single deck blackjack house edge, rules, hands played per hour, and your skills. It always pays off to practice before you play in a casino table.

Even if you’re a card counter, never underestimate the guidance a blackjack basic strategy card can give. This is the solid foundation of a play and your last resort when things are going rough on your card counting.

But before you dive deep into a single-deck game, think twice if the rules are reasonable enough. If it’s too strict, it might be better to look for 4 or 8-deck tables with better game rules. This way, you can protect your bankroll from the casino’s house edge.

Lastly, know your limits and when to walk away. A single deck can easily give you a false sense of security, something that’s harmful to gamblers.

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