Using Strategy in Multi-Deck card games

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 15:39

Card counting is the bane of Casinos, at least when it comes to Blackjack tables. While most of them will gladly welcome anyone saying they have a system, the sheer effectiveness of card counting reduces the house odds to such an extent that most won’t even want to play with a card counter. This has led to the house having to impose rules to give them back an edge in single deck games. But, rather than spoil the fun for everyone with ever draconian measures to regain the house edge, casinos also offer a different style of game that uses multiple decks. The number of decks used can range from 2 to 8 and makes card counting significantly more difficult. It also adjusts how basic Blackjack strategy should be deployed so we’ve got a few pointers here on things to bear in mind and how to play Blackjack with multiple decks.

The first thing to remember is that your basic strategy needs to account for the greater quality of ten-value cards in the deck. Most casinos will alter whether or not a croupier will hit or stand on a soft 17 depending on how many decks are in use in order to retain their edge and this is something else to bear in mind. While the general rule of surrender or stand on a 16 if the dealer has a ten still applies, you should also surrender on a 15 as the odds are against you with the new balance of the decks. There are a few extra details that, depending on how familiar you are with basic blackjack strategy, may be easy or difficult to remember but it’s important that you do remember the alterations if you want to aim for optimal strategy. There aren’t that many differences but remembering them is crucial.

The other thing to bear in mind is you can’t use card counting strategy to choose when to bet. You can’t bet low until you have a hot deck lined up and know what you’re dealing with as it’s insanely difficult to count upwards of 4 decks reliably. In this circumstance, your best option is to utilise a system to manage your bets. Essentially, you can either approach this positively or negatively. If you want to play positive, you just bet based on how your last hand did. If you win, then you double your stake and if you lose you go back to the lowest stake. There are gradients to this, of course, it’s just double and lowest, but the idea is you lean into a streak when it occurs. The negative version of this, also called the Martingale System, is you do the opposite, you double and raise every time you lose so that when you eventually win you get your money back. The obvious drawback here: there’s no guarantee you will win before you run out of money. However, as you don’t double when you win. If you do win you build a healthy pool to bail you out when you do lose.

Neither system is perfect and both require you hedge at some point or other, but it’s a constructive way to manage your chips while you play. Of course, as there is still an element of skill involved, they also aren’t absolute systems (obviously, you raise when you have 21 or have a split) but bearing them in mind is a great way to help your odds.