Blackjack is one of the oldest and most popular games in casinos today. The slow move towards electronic, computer-based games has seen the typical casino go from all tables at the turn of the 20th century to modern casino floors that are almost entirely covered in video slot machines of one kind or another. But throughout all of this, one table game, blackjack, has remained enormously popular and can be found in almost any casino in the world.
Blackjack can also be one of the most confusing games to a new player and even to seasoned pros. This is because of the enormous number of rules variations that the game has. When talking about online casinos, there are even more potential rules variations because of abstractions like infinite decks being possible in cyberspace and restricting players to only one hand at a time being of little concern on the internet.
Single hand blackjack versus multi-hand blackjack
Some online casinos will restrict the player to only being dealt one hand of blackjack at a time. A brick and mortar casino would have a tough time getting away with this because it would dramatically slow down the game for customers who enjoy playing multiple hands or “spots”. Many of these players are accustomed to being dealt multiple hands at the same time and being restricted to just one would anger them whereafter they would almost certainly leave and head to the next casino. The game is slowed so much because when there is a live dealer, the part of the game that takes far and away the most time is the shuffle. A player sitting at a table with other players will get far more hands in per shuffle if he is playing multiple spots. Another consideration is that all players are trying to beat the dealer. Thus if 5 hands are being played for every one dealer hand, that dealer will have to deal himself a hand much less frequently. Again, this saves a great deal of time in a casino environment.
Online however, none of this matters in the slightest. For this reason you will see both single and multi-hand blackjack offered online. The vast majority of the time whether you play one or the other will have very little effect on your win rate or the best strategy. However there is one fringe exception.
If you ever see a single deck blackjack game which allows more than two hands to be played simultaneously it may actually be possible to get a long term edge at that game. The reasons and strategies are beyond the scope of this article but if more than 5 or so cards are routinely dealt out, the game becomes countable and the player can achieve a long term positive rate of return in most cases!