It is very well known that single-deck blackjack, of all the variants of blackjack which can be found in casinos, offers best the odds to a blackjack player. Well known, but unfortunately, not strictly true.
The overall odds within any blackjack game are the same whether a single deck, two decks, or any number of decks are used. The reason why single-deck blackjack is preferred by serious players is that it is much easier for a player in a single-deck game to keep track of the shifting odds from hand to hand. For this reason alone, it is recommended to seek out the casinos which offer single-deck blackjack.
Sometimes it can be a little hard to find a casino offering true single-deck blackjack for several reasons. First of all, casinos know full well that serious blackjack players will have been advised to look for single-deck blackjack tables, and that they will be most unlikely to make good money from a table of serious players.
Casinos often attempt to ameliorate this situation by either instructing the dealer to count the cards and shuffle them when the odds look really good in favour of the players, or by pulling another trick. If they tell the dealer to shuffle, and he does this regularly just at those moments when the players feel they are able to start making hay, this casino will not keep regular blackjack customers for very long.
So the trick many casinos are pulling in the single-deck games is this: by reducing the payout rate for a player’s “natural blackjack” from the customary $3 paid for every $2 bet to a new rate of $6 paid for every $5 bet. A “natural blackjack” is a two-card total of twenty-one consisting of an ace and a ten value card , it is far more common than a blackjack achieved with three or more cards.
So this is a very harsh reduction in odds, a reduction of twenty percent in the payout for the most common win. The overall effect of this change is to shift the odds in favour of the casino by approximately one and a quarter percent – which makes the odds for a player even worse than they would get if they were playing the typical multi-deck casino blackjack game with the usual rules and procedures!
So watch out for this trick, and be prepared to do some hunting around when you are looking for a single-deck blackjack table to join.