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How Many Decks of Cards in Blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game that can be played with single or multiple decks of cards. Historically, blackjack was always played with a single deck but this quickly changed with the birth and democratization of card counting.

The numbers of decks used in a game, which can of course vary, affect factors like the house edge and the basic strategy to follow. So, let’s find out more about the decks used in blackjack.

How Many Cards Are Used In Blackjack

A single deck of cards used to play blackjack contains 52 cards. Among these, the cards, two to ten have their respective values that are, 2 to 10. The aces can be worth 1 o 11 depending on the game. The face cards, which are the King, Queen, and Jack, have a value of 10. The sum of the cards’ value is a player’s “hand value”. Since blackjack is all about numbers and the quest to achieve 21, the ace and the face cards are of high significance, a combination of two of which is also quite sought after in the game.

Once the initial cards are dealt, players can opt for additional cards, place side bets and the game goes on. Modern blackjack is seldom played with a single deck of cards, whether in land-based casinos or online. At least six to eight decks of cards are used leading to a game of about 416 cards and 96 face cards, shuffled and reshuffled well for each round of blackjack.

How Many Decks Are Used In Blackjack

Technically, there is no restriction or upper limit to how many decks of cards can be used in blackjack. However, the more the number of cards, the greater the complexity of the game. Modern blackjack, as played in most land-based casinos from Las Vegas to Macau, uses six to eight decks of the standard 52 playing cards. Depending on the number of decks used, many Las Vegas casinos have introduced several interesting variants of this card game.

It is necessary to remember that a higher number of decks in a game increases the house edge. The standard house edge in blackjack, which is considered to be 0.5%, applies only when a single deck game is played with player-friendly rules in place. Card counting also becomes difficult in a six to eight-deck blackjack since the ideal number of decks is 1 or 2.

This is not to say that players cannot count cards with multiple decks. The majority of beginners rely on single-deck strategies for card counting. However, there are multi-deck card counting strategies used by advanced players to keep track of the cards. Beginners can transition to a multi-deck strategy by consistently practicing their card counting techniques.

House Edge in Blackjack
House Edge in Blackjack

How Many Decks of Cards Are Used In Online Blackjack

In online blackjack, games are generally played with up to eight decks of cards. Additionally, some online casinos may shuffle a single deck automatically at every hand. Virtually, this means you cannot count cards whatsoever in online blackjack.

This computerized reshuffling at each round leads to a randomization of the cards, making it impossible for card counters to implement a solid blackjack strategy.

Wondering why online blackjack sites do that? As we know, every deck of cards has a predetermined amount of cards with fixed values. As such, the aces are 1 or 11 and the face cards that are Kings, Queens, and Jacks are 10. These two varieties are the most important cards for a player to get a blackjack.

Now, when at least six decks of cards are so automatically shuffled and randomized, as it happens in online casinos, there are 96 of these high-value cards. Out of these, landing up with a strong 2-card hand that is blackjack or close to 21 becomes difficult. Online blackjack played with multiple decks, as a result, significantly increases the house edge.

How Many Cards In Live Dealer Blackjack

Live dealer blackjack is streamed online but players get the feel of being in a real casino because of the live dealer initiating the game. About 8 decks of cards are used in live dealer blackjack, much like in the land-based casinos. Some live dealer blackjack games are played with six decks also.

There are a few deck-related rules followed in live dealer blackjack to ensure a fair game for all. For instance, the shoe penetration is 50% of the shoe and also, the same is changed after only 4 decks have been dealt. On some tables, auto shuffling is facilitated. Most importantly, the cards are burned, that is, the top card or the face-down cards from the deck are removed before the hands are dealt. This burning takes place either at the beginning of the shoe or at some points before each new game round.

FAQ

How many cards are in one deck for blackjack?

There are about 52 cards within one deck during blackjack. All 16 face cards have a value of 10 while all four aces have a value of 1 or 11.

How many decks does a casino use in one shoe?

Casinos have around 6 to 8 decks in one shoe, which can have up to 312 or 416 cards played before another shoe with fresh new cards used for the succeeding games.

Why do casinos use multiple decks for blackjack?

This is a deterrence for players who are utilizing a blackjack card counting technique to increase their edge against the house. By increasing the number of decks in a shoe, casinos make it harder for card counters to keep track of the true count.

How can multiple decks deter blackjack card counters?

Card counting involves assigning value to cards and tallying used cards to come up with a true count, which allows a player to determine the cards with a specific value left in a deck. By increasing the number of decks, card counters have a hard time keeping up with the true count within one shoe.

How many decks do online blackjack games use?

One of the popular misconceptions among online casino players is that digital blackjack games draw from a “virtual deck”. Unfortunately, it utilizes an RNG algorithm to come up with the cards so there are no actual decks in any online blackjack games. The only exception to this is live dealer games where physical cards are used.

While the basic rules of the game remain the same and players will usually play against the dealer, the decks of cards used will largely determine the strategy and help players decide upon the side bets and so on.

This article was published on December 12, 2020, and last updated on June 22, 2022.

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