I love playing single deck blackjack in Las Vegas, and I love double deck blackjack there, too. I’m not much of a card counter, and I don’t have a huge bankroll. But something about playing the coolest casino table game in the coolest casino city in the world just sits right with me.
In this post, I want to share everything I know about playing single deck blackjack in Sin City.
Single Deck Blackjack Odds
It’s impossible for me to say, across the board what the house edge is in a single deck game of blackjack. The house edge in blackjack depends on a lot of different rules.
The use of a single deck is meaningful, but it’s not the only meaningful rule when you’re talking house edge.
For people who want a hard and fast number, I’ll say this:
If you play perfect basic blackjack strategy in a single deck game that follows traditional rules and pays out 3:2 for a natural, the house edge against you is 0.15%.
That’s among the lowest such figures in the casino. A few video poker variants can be played to a (slight) advantage, and card counters in blackjack can put themselves in a positive expectation situation, too. But, basically, the blackjack game described above would be among the best bets on the floor at any casino.
Play Single Deck Blackjack in Vegas
Once upon a time you could find lots of single deck games in Vegas. Some of them even paid out 3:2 for a natural and had some other rules that favored the player.
I’m sad to be the one to tell you that those games are a thing of the past.
Playing low stakes 3:2 blackjack in Las Vegas is part of Michael Bluejay’s overall blackjack strategy. He recommends you play at the $10 game at El Cortez, mostly because that’s the only one left.
It’s a good game, too. You can double down before splitting (not after) and the dealer hits a soft 17. The overall house edge, according to vegasadvantage.com, is about 0.3%.
Besides the game at El Cortez, all other Vegas single deck blackjack games pay out 6:5 for blackjack instead of 3:2. This one small rule change boosts the house edge to around 2%, depending on the table rules.
El Cortez Single Deck Blackjack
At this point, until a new game pops up, El Cortez Casino has a monopoly on low stakes 3:2 single deck blackjack in Las Vegas.
Stratosphere Single Deck Blackjack
Stratosphere has a big collection of single deck blackjack games relative to other Vegas casinos.
But they’re not great games.
All seven of the single deck blackjack games at Stratosphere pay 6:5. These games also limit doubling down to before splitting. The dealer hits a soft 17.
All told, the house edge on Stratosphere’s single deck blackjack game is around 1.6%. The bet limits are between $10 and $1,000 per hand.
If you’re headed to the Strat to play blackjack, skip the single deck games and head straight for the double deck tables.
Double Deck Blackjack in Las Vegas
Here’s why I think you should play double deck blackjack in Las Vegas:
The odds on the double deck blackjack games in Las Vegas are about where the old single deck games used to be.
Take the Stratosphere, for example. The double deck blackjack games at the Strat have a $25 – $2,000 bet range. They pay 3:2 for a natural. There are no limits on doubling down.
Once you crunch the numbers on all the rules, those double deck games at the Stratosphere have a house edge around 0.6%. That’s a full percent better than their single deck games.
Frankly, I have more fun when I’m losing less money. Playing double deck blackjack in Las Vegas versus single deck is the best way to lose a little bit less per hour.
Sure, you have to put down $25 per hand instead of $10, but your expected hourly losses shake out about the same because of the difference in house edge.
Is Single Deck Blackjack Better?
I have gambling buddies that will only play single deck blackjack. I have other blackjack friends that avoid single deck blackjack.
So, is single deck blackjack better?
Single deck blackjack is better in terms of the house edge. If all the rules are the same, a single-deck game gives the house a smaller edge than a multi-deck game. Blackjacks appear more frequently, and you’ll get a 10-point card during a double down more often in a single-deck blackjack game.
Unfortunately, most blackjack games that use one deck don’t have the same rules as their multi-deck cousins.
When I play the single deck blackjack game at Isle of Capri Casino in Louisiana, I’m aware that the dealer hits on a soft 17 instead of standing as he would in a multi-deck game. This gives Isle of Capri a bigger advantage against me. Their multi-deck blackjack games require the dealer to stand on that soft total of 17.
The same goes for double down rules; at my single deck game in Louisiana, I can’t double down after splitting, and I can only split pairs once. Those rules both add to the casino’s mathematical edge.
Another common way casinos hedge their losses on a single deck game is by paying out 6:5 for a natural instead of 3:2. Most single-deck games pay out 6:5, giving the casino an extra 1.7% advantage against the player. In a game where players work hard for every tenth of a percent they can get, 1.7% is a big hit.
It’s not accurate to say that single deck blackjack is always better. You have to consider the rules of the game along with the size of the shoe.
Single Deck Blackjack Online
There aren’t a lot of single deck blackjack games online. Most of the online casino blackjack games I can find use multi-deck shoes.
I was able to find at least one decent single deck blackjack online game produced by Betsoft.
In Betsoft’s single deck blackjack game, you can bet between $1 and $100 per hand on up to three hands at once. Blackjack pays 3:2, which is nice. In fact, Betsoft’s single deck blackjack game follows “Las Vegas Strip” rules with a few exceptions:
- the deck is shuffled after each round
- players can only split once
- doubles after split are allowed
- you can double on 10 and 11 only
- you can only split to 2 hands
- there is no late surrender option
The house edge for Betsoft’s single deck game is 0.54%. Those are really good odds for an online blackjack game.
The limit of $100 per hand, and the fact that the deck is shuffled after each round, keeps the game from being too volatile for online casinos to host.
This is the best advice I have for people looking to play single deck blackjack in Las Vegas – invent a time machine and go back a few decades. You’re just not going to find much single deck blackjack action in Vegas.
That said, there are decent single deck games left at El Cortez and some fun double deck action at Stratosphere that should keep single deck lovers happy.