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Jan

11

2017

Two Deck vs Six Deck Blackjack Games

One of the first things blackjack players learn when they start to get serious about the game is that fewer decks are better for players. The biggest reason is that the frequency of two-card 21 is higher with fewer decks, and you get paid extra on blackjacks. The dealer doesn’t.

But the next thing smart players learn is that other rules sometimes can yield a better game despite their being more decks. If all else is equal, a two-deck game has a lower house edge than a six-deck game, but unequal rules can make six decks the better game.

An example crossed my email box recently when a reader wrote to say, “The casino where I was staying had two-deck blackjack games, but blackjacks paid 6-5. It also had six-deck games where blackjacks paid 3-2. Which is better, fewer decks or getting the bigger blackjack payoff?”

In this case, getting the bigger blackjack payoff far outweighs the number of decks. A 6-5 payoff on blackjacks instead of 3-2 increases the house edge by 1.4 percent, and that’s bigger all by itself than the entire house edge on most 3-2 games.

The player didn’t tell me what other rules were in play at the table, but let’s assume equal rules other than the number of decks and the blackjack payoff. We’ll define games where the dealer hits soft 17, you can double down on any first two cards including after splits, may split Aces only once but may split any other pair up to three times for a total of four hands.

Under those conditions, the six-deck game with a 3-2 payoff on blackjacks has a house edge of 0.64 percent against a basic strategy player. With two-decks and a 6-5 payoff on blackjacks, the house edge soars to 1.83 percent.

If you see 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks, look for a better game.

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