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Advanced Blackjack Strategies - Part 2 - Single Deck Games

In Part 1 of this series I explained how a blackjack player can gain the long-term advantage over the casino by card counting and showed how card counting works.In this article I'll show you how you can use the information to beat the single deck blackjack games.

The single deck blackjack game has an inherent advantage over multiple deck blackjack games. First, the casino's edge against a basic strategy player is close to 0. Secondly, you will experience positive counts more often therefore you do not need a very large bet spread to beat this game (a 1-4 bet spread will do just fine). The only negative aspect of a single deck game is that it generally draws more attention from pit bosses because they know card counters can beat single deck games more readily compared to multiple deck games.

The first thing you must do is evaluate the rules of the single deck game because some games have good rules and other not so good. By referring to the table below, you will get an idea of how the mix of rules effect the casino's edge (CA) in single deck games and a list of some of the casinos that offer these games. The worst rules for single deck games occur when the casino restricts doubling to a two card 10 and/or 11. The best rules allow unrestricted doubling or replace the double down rule with resplitting of aces. Better yet are casino's that offer single deck games in which the dealer stands on soft 17 rather than hit (you can actually have the edge without card counting in a single deck game where the dealer stands on soft 17).


DAS S17 H17
Double after pair splitting Dealer stands Dealer hits soft 17
RSA D10/11
Resplit aces allowed Double only on two card 10 and 11.  

Single Deck Rules CA Example Casinos
S17, DAS - 0.13% Slot-of-Fun/LV
S17 - 0.01% Westward Ho/LV
H17, DAS, RSA + 0.03% Four Queens/LV
H17, DAS + 0.06% Circus Circus/LV; Gold Spike/Tunica
H17, RSA + 0.15% Binions Horseshoe/LV
H17 + 0.18% El Cortez/LV
H17, D10/11 + 0.44% Excalibur/LV

As a general rule, you'll find more single deck games with favorable rules in Las Vegas than elsewhere.
Another very important variable that determines whether a single deck game is worth your time is the penetration or percentage of cards that are dealt from the deck prior to the shuffle. Some casinos offer single deck games but shuffle after one or two rounds. Forget these games. You want at least 50 and ideally 75% of the cards to be dealt. The more cards that you see prior to the shuffle, the greater will be your advantage with card counting. This is very important so shop around for the best penetration.

You also do not want to play single deck games at a crowded table. In fact do not play if there are 3 or more players (excluding you). The reason you want to play at un-crowded tables is that you'll be getting more hands between shuffles and getting down more bets per unit of time compared to a crowded table.
One easy way to bet in single deck games is to bet two units on the first hand after the shuffle then vary your bets based upon the running count as follows.
Negative count 1 unit
Neutral count 2 units
Positive count 4 units

For camouflage purposes do not increase your bet from 2 to 4 units unless you also won the hand. Also do not increase or decrease your bet size following a push. These are important betting rules if you are a green ($25) or black ($100) chip bettor since you will get more scrutiny from the casino bosses compared to a player betting red ($5) chips. If you are a $5 minimum bet player your betting spread would be $5 to $20. Likewise for a $25 player it would be $25 to $100.
To withstand the normal short-term fluctuations in your bankroll that will occur when you play blackjack, you should have a bankroll equal to 125 times your maximum bet. That's $5,000 if you spread $5 to $20 and at least a $12,000 if you spread $25 to $100.

In Part 3 of this series I'll show you another way to bet in single deck games using the true count and give you an idea on how much you can expect to win as well as the risks you face. I'll also show you how you can use the count to vary your playing strategy and give you a few more tips on "cover plays". Until then keep practicing your card counting.

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