Should You Play Blackjack With One Hand or Two?December 22nd, 2019
Why should you play with one hand or two hands (or more) in Blackjack? Does it make a difference to your odds and to your strategy? We investigate.
Blackjack: it’s one of the most exciting, strategy-based casino games out there. There’s so much more to it than just spinning a slot machine or a roulette wheel.
That’s why you’ll find most folks don’t even call it gambling. They prefer to think of it as a game of maths, or science.
There’s also just the right touch of psychology too. What is the dealer thinking? Is he/she moving too fast? All factors you generally can’t think about when playing online, unless you choose to play live casinos.
For this reason, there are a number of methods that blackjack players employ. Here we’re going to look at hands, and how you should play depending on your experience.
First things first: what is a hand in blackjack?
When you first start a game of blackjack, your dealer will pass you two cards face up. He/she will also have two cards, one facing up, one facing down.
Your two cards are what’s known as your “hand” and you need to get as close to a total of 21 as possible, without exceeding or going bust.
It’s the simplest explanation of the rules of blackjack, without having to know the blackjack terms.
The blackjack dealer’s mission is the same. He or she can “stick” (as can you) when close to the number 21. The difference is, the dealer (generally) has to have at least 17 before sticking, whereas you may stick at whatever value you like.
We’ve provided an easy blackjack cheat sheet to give you an idea of when to bet and when to stick depending on the cards on show.
Why would I play with two hands?
When you play blackjack games, your dealer has a stack of cards which can be as many as eight decks, or 416 cards. That means there are a lot of possibilities for wins and losses.
Some people like to play blackjack with two hands. They may feel this gives them more advantage over the dealer.
The dealer may only play with one hand, whereas the player can place equal bets on each hand, or mix them up.
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It’s all in the strategy
Whether or not this technique works for you depends on a few factors. First, you have to remember that every trial is not independent of the last one.
You’re going through cards in the pack, so every time an ace or a 10 pops up, your chances decrease of this showing up again in the next round.
By this logic, playing one hand with a £50 bet is not the same odds as playing two hands with a £25 bet each.
Don’t forget, both your hands are also playing against the dealer’s singular hand. Therefore, if he/she has a good hand, it’s likely the dealer will beat both your hands, and vice versa if his/her hand isn’t great.
How long have you got?
Another factor in the one-hand/two-hand strategy is time. Similar to RTP rates on slot machines, the amount of time you play for has a big effect on your winnings.
Let’s crunch some numbers here. On the basis that a dealer deals 100 rounds per hour, you can expect the following two scenarios.
You switch from playing one hand and getting 100 rounds per hour, to two hands, at 80 rounds per hour. This means you’ll actually get 160 hands in an hour.
This isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if you’re not splitting your bets evenly. You could be giving away more of your funds with increased rounds.
This time, instead of betting one sum on a singular hand, you’ve split it evenly between two hands. Let’s say you bet £20. On a singular hand, you should lose £10 per hour, assuming 100 hands.
However, your hypothetical loss drops to just £8 per hour if you split this.
You’ll be betting half as much, but you’ll be decreasing your losses. Of course, this all depends how many other people are playing against you.
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What’s the best strategy for me?
To test this theory, i.e. how long your funds will last versus your outcome of a jackpot, software developer Norm Wattenberger ran a test. He wagered several bets over different numbers of hands, with a £300 bankroll and a goal of winning £150.
It turned out that splitting a single bet into two equal wagers on two hands was the best way to make money last.
However, it was also the least effective at winning big. The reverse was also true – you’d be much more likely to win with a bigger bet but a shorter bankroll time.
So in essence, it doesn’t matter, it just depends on what you need out of the gametime. If you have a small bankroll you want to last as long as possible, go for strategy 2.
If you are looking at walking away with big rewards, but don’t mind that you might walk away with nothing, strategy 1 is the way forward.
Of course there’s lot of different Blackjack games, so make sure you know which you are playing and if you can play with one or two hands.
A word for card counters…
The two-hand strategy is likely to be most effective for those who are in it for the long haul. Often times these are card counters, looking to see what cards are coming up in the pack, and calculating the house edge.
The problem is that you can’t think like that online, as the deck of cards reshuffles from scratch on each round. This isn’t true of live casinos games.
If you’re a beginner at blackjack, play with one hand or split evenly down two. This will help you to stick to your budgets. You can find out more info in our how to play blackjack article.
And remember, if you’re playing in a land-based casino, counting cards is very much frowned upon. Proceed with caution!
In many ways, it’s probably why we feel that it’s safer to play casino online – you know where you stand, and every strategy you use won’t get you kicked out.
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