How Many Decks Are Used in Blackjack?

One of the most popular games out on the casino floor, blackjack is still shrouded in a fair degree of mystery. Players who sit at the tables to participate in the almost-ritualistic gameplay that has been around since at least the 1400s seldom ask themselves the question of how many decks are used in blackjack. Well, it’s a good question and one that may help you win a little more if you know how many decks you are dealing with.

So, how do many decks of cards do casino use? The answer is – that depends, but the good news is that each table at the casino will openly inform you on the number of decks. The fewer decks there are, the better your odds of winning become. Well, sort of. It’s easier to keep track of the tens and picture cards that have been in play if there are fewer decks in play, though, and it’s good to make use of that knowledge to your benefit.

Decks in Blackjack: One, Four, Eight or More?

This depends. One and four decks are not very standard iterations. Even if they are – cards may be shuffled often, but this is not necessarily to your disadvantage either. However, eight is a good benchmark according to most casinos. It gives them a fair house edge and offers players a chance to still win. This and the fact that blackjack has one of the highest payout makes for a perfect gameplay experience.

In the cases of eight decks, these tables come with many cards into play. Anyone trying to improve their odds will have to keep a track of 516 cards. It’s true that counting cards and being very good at it will most likely result in the casino escorting you out of the premise, but it’s not prohibited and it’s perfectly fine to try your best. In fact, every dealer knows that you are trying to do that.

More decks mean a slightly better house edge for the casino. Of course, casinos do burn cards when you play blackjack and the dealers can reshuffle cards if they feel like you are catching up too quickly to the number of cards left in the deck(s). Overall, though, blackjack is considered a fair game and there is nothing to unsettle you as a player. If you are min-maxing the process though, the fewer decks you focus on, the better. This is at least when it comes to land-based blackjack.

Does this mean that a single deck blackjack would always be the best? It really depends. Casinos are also smart, and they know that you may be sitting on the sidelines counting the deck. That is why some casinos won’t let you join until the deck is played through or until after the next reshuffling. The betting ranges may be limited as well on such tables. Once again, there is nothing inherently unfair here and blackjack remains one of the best and most balanced games. In Las Vegas, the house edge is around 0.5%-0.8%.

Online Blackjack: Does the Number of Decks Matter?

One factoid that you may not have been aware of is that in online gambling, the number of decks will not really matter. Why? Because casinos online use something called a Random Number Generator (RNG) that shuffles the card after each deal. What’s happening is a bit different and not exactly shuffling but it still counts as such and has the exact same effect.

The game just draws cards at random from the number of decks you have chosen to play with and resets them after each round of betting. You cannot put your knowledge of counting cards to any good use online and as such – you shouldn’t worry about the number of decks online. Rather, just focus on the betting limits, any additional features you may care for, and that is it. But here is the big secret, unless you are counting cards, shuffling is always in your favor – whether you are playing at a land-based casino or online.

Play Blackjack to Have Fun

Ultimately, whatever version of blackjack you pick and no matter how many decks are used in it, you should remind yourself that playing blackjack is all about one thing – having fun. No matter what option you pick in the end, you will want to focus on the things that are important to you – these usually mean the size of the bets and any side-bet options that you may be running at the same time.

FAQ

How many decks are used in online blackjack?

One, four or eight. It depends on the version of the game you are playing. However, after each betting round, the cards are shuffled again.

How many decks are there in land-based blackjack casinos?

1, 4 or 8 decks are usually used in land-based casino gaming from Las Vegas to the Atlantic Strip.

Does the number of decks change anything about blackjack?

Yes, fewer decks means that you can track the cards that are being played easier and push your chances of success. This is not always the case, but it’s a good way to stay on top of the game.

How many decks do blackjack casinos in Las Vegas use?

Anything from one, four or eight deck blackjack games will be available in Las Vegas casinos.

Why do dealers in live casinos burn one of the cards?

Dealers in the casinos are instructed to burn the first card to provide with a level playing field – i.e. nobody knows what the card is and cheating is eliminated. However, players usually do not see the burned cards.  

Is shuffling of the decks actually bad for me when playing blackjack?

No, you want the decks to be shuffled as often as they can unless you are counting cards. In land-based casinos a deck with more remaining small cards will be played longer – which is to the player’s disadvantage, clearly.

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