How Do The Number Of Decks Affect Our Basic Strategy Decisions?

Surely you’ve heard the horse racing term “different horses for different courses,” haven’t you? Well, it’s like that in blackjack too. The Basic Strategy which we outlined elsewhere is not necessarily the one that is applicable to each and every game in each and every casino.

Sure, it’s just the one you’ll find in most games, i.e., those which deal from multiple-deck shoes and where the rules allow for doubling down after split pairs. It also serves as a base from which we will work in explaining the variations on this strategy. One of the factors on which these variations are made involved the number of decks employed in the game. This is worth exploring, since casinos can deal their game on the basis of one deck, while others do double deck, and go up to six or eight decks, at which point it may become intimidating for some players.

There are certain decisions one would make in a single-deck game that would not be made in a multi-deck (2,4,6, or 8 deck) game. For instance, if you are dealt a pair of sevens in a single-deck game and the dealer is showing a ten, you would stand. This may sound curious, until you consider the options: splitting would be unwise, since you’re putting twice the amount of money on the table and the likelihood of wither split hand defeating the dealer is remote. As for hitting is concerned, you may need to draw another seven to beat the dealer. In a single-deck game, this is going to be highly unlikely, since there would only be two other sevens in the entire deck. And of course, only the most foolish people would double down. Therefore, the correct decision here is to STAND, a defensive move that will cause the player to LOSE LESS than the other options. Obviously, in a multi-deck game, the right move is to hit, since there would be many more sevens available to help the hand (for example, there would be 22 more sevens in the shoe if it was a six-deck game).

This is the way you would change your Basic Strategy for THE SINGLE-DECK GAME:

— with 7’s against a dealer’s 10, STAND instead of HIT
— with an 11 against a dealer’s Ace, DOUBLE instead of HIT
— with a 5,3 combination of 8, DOUBLE instead of HIT, against dealer’s 5 or 6

You have heard many times about how difficult it is for, say, a card counter to count four or six or even eight decks. Well, it is probably more difficult to play in that kind of game if you are a card counter because you need to get more “deck penetration” to find a truly advantageous situation, but since the player is compiling, in effect, a “count per deck,” that stuff is relative. For the Basic Strategy player, in a single-deck game with the best possible rules an ever-so-slight advantage over the house can be attained. On an overall basis, however, the average expectation isn’t so adversely affected when the number of decks increases.