Blackjack is a diverse casino game with multiple variants, rules, and a different number of decks in the shoe depending on where you play. In this guide, we will look at how to play the two deck Blackjack strategy.
As with any Blackjack system, the two deck Blackjack strategy comes with quite a few variables depending on the casino you are playing at. You may also see two deck Blackjack referred to as ‘Double Deck Blackjack’, and needless to say, you play Blackjack on a table with two decks of 52 cards (104 cards) in the shoe.
Every casino scrutinises its Blackjack games, and it is this due diligence that helps the gaming team decide which rules to apply to Blackjack tables that make it to their casino floor or an online casino’s Blackjack section.
As ‘2 Deck Blackjack’ has a lower house edge compared to 4, 6, and 8-deck games, many casinos either avoid this variation, add high minimum bets, and/or apply less liberal rules. The other solution is to not include 2 deck Blackjack tables at all.
You will find out later on in this guide how difficult it is to find double deck Blackjack games, and when you do, you will need to make sure you are ready to take on some of the restrictive rules casinos tend to add to this variant.
Luckily all 2 deck Blackjack tables come with several basic strategy charts to prepare you for the varying rules applied to double deck games.
Below we will walk you through the easy to learn steps you need to take to choose the correct basic strategy chart so you can quickly learn how to play 2 deck Blackjack tables whether you find them at a land-based casino or online casino.
We will cover the following topics in this guide:
- Rules that influence Two deck blackjack strategy
- Using Table Rules To Apply The Correct Basic Strategy Charts
- Two Deck Basic Strategy Charts In Action,
- Where can you play 2 deck Blackjack?
- Play Blackjack at mBitcasino
Rules That Influence Two Deck Blackjack Strategy
Every Blackjack strategy that you apply to your session whether you are playing an 8 deck, 6 deck, 4 deck, or 2 deck Blackjack strategy, you should always be using ‘basic strategy’. This is the key ingrediant to not only playing winning blackjack, but to reducing your losses by playing ‘perfect Blackjack‘.
To figure out which basic strategy charts you should use, you need to understand the different rules applied to Blackjack tables.
Nearly all ‘Two Deck Blackjack‘ games use the rule ‘dealer stands on 17’ (H17) referring to hard 17 and not a soft 17. For the benefit of those that do not know, soft 17 is any hand that totals 17 using an Ace as one of the cards. That Ace can count as 1 or 11. For example, A-6, A-4-2, or A-3-3 are all soft 17 hands.
Soft 17 counts as an 11 on Blackjack tables that use the H17 rule, and as such, the dealer is perfectly within his or her rights to hit the 11 total. On the other hand, if the table rules state that the dealer must ‘stand on all 17s’ or ‘dealer stands on soft 17’ (S17), then you are in luck because this rules works in your favour.
In our ‘12 Pro Strategies on how to win at Blackjack’ guide, we mention that when the ‘dealer stands on soft 17’ this increases your house edge by 0.22%. All that being said, you are unlikely to find a 2 deck Blackjack table with this rule. For that matter, very few 4-deck, 6-deck, or 8-deck tables include the S17 rule.
When you are looking at basic strategy charts, the first clue to which chart you should use is the dealer rules:
- Dealer stands of hard 17 = H17
- Dealer stands on soft 17 = S17
When it comes to choosing basic strategy charts, you only need to know whether you can double down after splits.
- Doubling Down After Splits Allowed (DAS)
- No Doubling Down After Splits (NDAS)
Doubling Down & Surrender
There are a few other blackjack rules you may need to adjust your basic strategy to. You may find specific basic strategy charts for 2 deck blackjack strategy or your Double Deck Blackjack, H17, NDAS basic strategy chart will include adjustments/alternatives for the below situations.
Make sure that before you play, you understand how these adjustments affect your double-deck game, or any game of blackjack for that matter.
- DOA = Double Down Allowed On Any First Two Cards
- D10 = Double Down Only On 10 or 11 Totals
- RSA = Re-Splitting Aces Allowed
- ESR = Early Surrender
- LSR = Late Surrender
This is not so much a rule, but we thoght we’d include this as an interesting fact. The fewer decks in play on a Blackjack table the lower the house edge which is why single-deck Blackjack is so popular.
When you add just 1 addiitonal deck of cards making the game double deck Blackjack, the addition of the extra deck subtracts 0.34% from the house edge.
Here’s how additional decks of cards affect the house edge:
- 2-deck blackjack: subtract 0.34% from the house edge
- 3-deck blackjack: subtract 0.45% from the house edge
- 4-deck blackjack: subtract 0.5% from the house edge
- 5-deck blackjack: subtract 0.53% from the house edge
- 6-deck blackjack: subtract 0.55% from the house edge
- 7-deck blackjack: subtract 0.56% from the house edge
- 8-deck blackjack: subtract 0.57% from the house edge
As 2 deck blackjack has a lower house edge compared to 3+ deck blackjack games, usually the casino will pull back that additional house edge by adding less liberal rules such as no splits on Aces or double down on 10 or 11 only. These rules can then even up the double deck versus 6-deck or 8-deck tables.
Another tactic used is to still allow liberal rules on double deck Blackjack tables, but increase the minimum bet.
Using this theory, the casino is banking on the long run outcome of the house edge working in its favour. With the higher losses from lost bets with a high minimum amount, the table will make as much as its 6-deck and 8-deck games with a lower house edge.
Blackjack Pays 6-5
Some casinos see the threat of the lower house edge of 2 deck Blackjack games as so high that they apply the Blackjack pays 6-5 rule. This rule increaes the house edge more than any other rule – 1.4% to be precise which is a sizeable chunk!
The only exception that we can think of is Double Exposure Blackjack but even then, most casinos will use 8 decks for this game to make up for the added advantage of seeing both dealer’s cards, while also restricting other rules such as double downs, DAS, and H17 rules.
Using Table Rules To Apply The Correct Basic Strategy Charts
The only way to play perfectly sound mathematical double-deck Blackjack is to use basic strategy charts. Players that do not play or learn basic strategy potentially hand over around 2% to 3% back to the house. That’s a significant amount when you consider most Blackjack games have a house edge of 99.5%!
In order to choose which basic strategy chart you use, you need to get answers to the following questions:
- Does the dealer stand on soft 17? (H17 or S17)
- Is Doubling down is allowed on any 2 cards?
- Is doubling down after splits permitted?
- Is surrender allowed?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can apply the correct basic strategy rules to your game.
Examples of Basic Strategy Charts To Choose:
- Double Deck Blackjack, S17, DAS
- Double Deck Blackjack, S17, NDAS
- Double Deck Blackjack, H17, DAS
- Double Deck Blackjack, H17, NDAS
Two Deck Basic Strategy Charts In Action
Just to give you an idea of how a basic strategy chart work, we will give you a couple scenrios. You can then find two deck blackack basic strategy charts here at Wizard of Odds to compare.
Basic Strategy Contingency Rules & Legend
Before you begin, make sure you understand the meaning of each letter and combination of letters on a basic strategy chart. You will also see that there are contingency rules in place for games that include additional rules on top of the S17, H17 DAS/NDAS rules.
- H – Hit
- S- Stand
- D – Double
- Dh – Double if allowed, otherwise Hit
- Ds – Double if allowed, otherwise Stand
- P – Split
- Su – Surrender
- Suh = Surrender if allowed; otherwise hit
- Sus = Surrender if allowed; otherwise stand
Double Deck Blackjack, S17, DAS
In this scenario your hand is an A-7 and the dealer’s upcard is a 9. On the basic strategy card for a table with the above rules it states you should act using the following sequences when your hand is an A-7:
- Double on dealer upcards 3 through to 6
- Stand on dealer upcards 2, 7, or 8
- Hit on dealer upcards 9, 10, or A
The correct move here is to hit.
Double Deck Blackjack, H17, DAS
You switch tables and now the dealer rules are ‘dealer stands on 17’ and doubling down after splits is allowed. Your hand turns out to be 4-4 while the dealer’s upcard is a 5.
There is only one move here accroding to the two deck blackjack H17 DAS basic strategy chart, and that is to split.
Double Deck Blackjack, S17, NDAS
Now in this scenario your hand is a A-2 and the dealer’s upcard is a 6. Now this is where basic strategy charts allow for a contingency plan. On this table, let’s assume the D10 (Double Down Only On 10 or 11 Totals) is in action.3
You refer to the basic strategy chart it says:
- Double Down if allowed, otherwise hit (Dh)
As you cannot double down on a 3 total or any total (DOA), the correct move in this situations is to ‘Hit’.
Where can you play 2 deck Blackjack?
We had a good look around to see where you can find 2 deck Blackjack games in gambling hot sports such as Las Vegas, at online casinos by checking which software providers offer operators 2 deck Blackjack tables, and we also looked at live dealer casinos.
Here is what we found:
In places like Las Vegas, there are only a handful of casinos that host 2 deck Blackjack. The lowest minimum bet in Vegas is at Aliante which is $5 while the next in line are the Bally’s and 4 Queens casinos with a $25 minimum bet, and Aria, Caesar’s Palace, and Bellagio offer double deck Blackjack with a $100 minimum bet.
The reason for the higher than normal minimum bet at many of these casinos is that 2 deck Blackjack has a lower house edge versus the more common 6-deck and 8-deck games.
Virtual RNG Operated Online Casino 2 Deck Blackjack Games
As for online casinos, to date, most software providers avoid developing 2 deck Blackjack games. As such, the only notable online Blackjack developer to release 2 deck Blackjack tables is Real Time Gaming (RTG). These are all virtual RNG games that are set by default to 2 decks but most operators change this to 4 decks because of the higher house edge.
Live Casino 2 Deck Blackjack Games
It took a lot of research to find out exactly how many decks each live casino platform offers with their live dealer Blackjack games, and there are no live Blackjack tables from any of the top live casino platforms that offer 2 deck Blackjack.
Play Blackjack at mBitcasino
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