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Expert Tips for Single Deck Blackjack Players

There are many advantages to playing single deck blackjack; most notably that it becomes far easier to keep track of what cards are left in the deck. However, this doesn’t mean that you should start playing with no strategy. To be a successful blackjack player, you should be employing strategies on every hand that you play.

Single Deck Blackjack Strategy Charts

Unfortunately, there are many versions of single deck blackjack. There may be variations in the rules surrounding split, double down, payouts and how the dealer players. This means that there is no one size fits all strategy for all versions of the game.

If you are an experienced blackjack player, then you will be aware of basic strategy charts. These show you what action to take in every situation. No matter what version of the rules you are playing, you will have no problem finding a strategy chart online. By using these charts, you can be sure that you are always making the mathematically best decision. Best of all, it is entirely legal to use these charts; you can even take one with you when sitting at a casino blackjack table.

It is vital that you make sure that you are looking at the correct version of the strategy chart. If you are looking at a chart for a game where the dealer hits on soft 17 but playing a game where the dealer stands on soft 17, then you could end up making some very expensive mistakes. Therefore, before you start playing, make sure that you are familiar with the exact rules of the table you are playing at and that your strategy chart matches them.

Card Counting - An Alternative to Strategy Charts

Not everyone enjoys playing with these charts as they feel it slows them down and is a slightly artificial way of playing. Another technique that you can employ is card counting. You can card count regardless of the number of decks a game uses, but it is slightly different with single deck games, particularly because players will receive their first two cards face down.

If you are used to card counting with multi-deck games, then you may find it a little tricky to adjust to single deck games. However, the basic technique remains the same. You need to establish a running count and then add or subtract the value of each visible card dealt.

There are two approaches to the true count in a single-deck game. As you may be aware, in a multi-deck game, you establish the true count by dividing the running count by the total number of remaining decks. Therefore, some players will not bother with a true count when playing single deck blackjack.

While this makes card counting easier, it doesn’t mean it is more accurate. Therefore, some people change the true count calculation method. Instead of dividing by 1, they will count the number of hands and multiply that by 2.7. They ten subtract the result from 52. The resulting number is what the running count is divided by to calculate the true count. The disadvantage to this is obvious, it requires the player to be very good at mental arithmetic.

Another approach is to estimate how many cards are left in the deck and divide the true count by that number. For example, if you have a running count of 2 and half of the deck remains, then you multiply two by a half to get 4. This method is more accurate than ignoring the running count and it is far easier than multiplying hands by 2.7.

Therefore, the first thing you need to do is decide whether you are going to establish a true count and how you will do so.

Hi-Opt 1 Card Counting

Hi-Opt 1 is a card counting method very suited to single deck blackjack games. It has a betting correlation of 0.88 and it is very simple to learn. The strategy requires you to count 3 to 6 as +1, cards 2, 7, 8, 9 and ace as 0, and 10 cards as -1. Some also find it useful to run a side count of aces.

If a quarter of the deck has been played and no aces have been dealt, then you know that the remaining deck is “rich” one ace. Therefore, for betting purposes, you can temporarily add +1 to the running count. Conversely, if 2 aces have been dealt from a quarter of the deck, then you can adjust the running count by -1

Hi-Opt 2 Card Counting

Hi-Opt 2 is a slightly more complicated method than Hi-Opt 1, but it produces slightly better results thanks to it 0.91 betting correlation. It was specifically developed for single deck games, but it is also used with multi-deck games. It is widely believed that this method only works properly when a side count of aces is kept.

With this method, cards 2, 3, and 6 have a value of +1, cards 4 and 5 have a value of +2, card 8, 9 and ace have a value of 0, and 10 cards have a value of -2. There are more values to keep track of, which is why it is slightly more complicated.

How to Bet

Regardless of which of the above systems you are using, you still need to know how to bet once you have established your running count and possibly a true count.

A popular method for deciding how much to bet is the MIT betting strategy. With this strategy, the amount you bet is equal to (True Count – 1) x Betting Unit.

If you were playing at a table with a $5 minimum and a $25 betting unit, then here are some examples of what you would bet depending on your true count:

True Count

Amount Bet

0 or Less








Unfortunately, not all of us have a large enough bankroll to make bets that are quite that big. Another system that can be used is for a player to look at their advantage and then bet the same percentage of their bankroll.

Imagine you have a bankroll of €1,000. If the true count shows that you have a 1% advantage, then you should bet 1% of €1,000, i.e. €10. If you had a bankroll of €300, then in this instance the bet would be €3. By using this method, you should be able to simultaneously maximise your profits and reduce the risk.

Alternatively, you could use a more traditional betting system such as the Martingale. This system doesn’t take the running count into consideration. Rather, you double your bet after every losing round and then when you win, you return to your original bet. This system means that you will have a profit after winning a hand. However, there are downsides to it. For instance, if you hit a long losing streak, then your bets will become very large and you may run out of bankroll or hit the table maximum bet limit.

A Few More Tips

There are a few more things you should remember as you strive to become an expert single deck blackjack player.

To begin with, while you are practising the card counting techniques explained above, be sure to bet small. You do not want to risk losing your bankroll until you feel you have fully mastered the systems. Furthermore, if you are using a betting system such as the Martingale, be sure to be aware of your remaining bankroll at all times so that you do not run into difficulties.

Very importantly, remember that while card counting is legal, casinos do not like it. Make sure you are as subtle as possible. If you are caught, the casino can ask you to leave the table or even the venue altogether.

Finally, practise. You need to make sure you can keep an accurate count and that you can perform the required calculations instinctively and effortlessly. With a bit of work you are sure to master all of these techniques and will be able to consider yourself a true expert player.

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