Is It Better to Play a Single Hand or Two Hands in Blackjack?

single vs two hands blackjackAs you browse through different blackjack tables available offline and on the web, you may notice that some versions allow simultaneous play on multiple hands. While some find this convenient, others are wondering whether it is a feature worth trying.

One of the most common questions blackjack players tend to ask is whether they should play one hand or two hands. However, the answer to this query depends on several factors, mostly on players’ advantage during the game.

Your budget as well as whether you are a recreational player or a blackjack expert should also play a role in your decision. After all, playing on two hands at once may go through one’s bankroll faster, which is not something that any player would appreciate.

It is up to the player to decide which gaming style is more suitable for them. If you are also considering whether playing with two hands at once is a good idea, you can compare the positive and negative sides of gambling on a single hand vs betting on two hands. Each style of playing blackjack has its advantages and disadvantages and we will make sure to cover them all.

Why Bet Size Matters When Playing Two Hands

Why Bet Size Matters When Playing Two HandsYou will notice that some players tend to place bets on two hands at the very beginning of the shoe. Meanwhile, others choose to wait until about half of the shoe is dealt and then they resort to making wagers on two hands. If you wonder why they do that, the answer in most cases is they believe spreading to two hands later in the game will have an effect on their luck. In actuality, the house edge on both of the hands will remain the same so nothing will change when it comes to one’s luck.

The one thing that for sure happens when players switch to playing with two hands at the same time is that you will go through more hands in one hour. Having two other players on the table but betting on one hand at a time would mean that you will go roughly through 100 gaming rounds in one hour. If you choose to bet on two hands you will get about 80 rounds per hour or 160 hands in total. As you can see, you will actually play 60 hands more than in the gaming session where you bet on just one hand at a time. Playing more hands than usual will also indicate that you will experience more losses per hour. That could also suggest you might exhaust your bankroll quicker than usual.

If you are used to betting £20 per hand, you can split your bet evenly and decide to play two hands, with a £10 bet on each one of them. If we assume that you play 100 hands per hour, your theoretical losses per hour should be around £10 when you bet £20 per hand. If you bet on two hands simultaneously and play about 80 rounds per hour, your hourly loss decreases to £8 when you bet £10 per hand. In that case, you will decrease your potential losses compared to betting the same total amount on one hand.

Meanwhile, if you make a £20 bet on a single hand and decide to keep the same bet on each of the two hands, you will end up betting £40 per round. Since you will increase the total amount of your bet per gaming round, you will also increase your theoretical losses per single hour. That is why resorting to such a betting system is not really recommended.

One thing that you should keep in mind is that betting £50 on a single hand is not like betting £25 on each of two hands. While the total amount you bet per gaming round will be the same, you will have two hands competing against the same dealer hand. If the dealer loses, you will win on both of your hands but if the dealer wins, you will experience a loss on both of your hands. The conclusion is that your bankroll will not experience that many fluctuations when you choose to bet £25 per one hand out of a total of two hands. Meanwhile, betting the same total amount on just one hand can lead to more ups and downs in your blackjack budget.

As already mentioned, playing two hands at the same time will slow down the pace of the game but will also increase the number of hands that will be played per hour. That will increase your potential losses per hour, even if you use the perfect blackjack strategy.

However, playing two hands at a time is preferred by many card counters, as using the right strategy and keeping a count will give them an edge over the house. Increasing the number of hands they play per hour will also boost their potential long-term wins. This is due to the fact that playing with two hands per round will have you go through the deck faster, giving you more information and allowing you to get more accurate as the game progresses.

How Card Counters Can Benefit from Betting on Two Hands in Blackjack

How Card Counters Can BenefitWhile multiple-hand play may not be suitable for every blackjack player, card counters can definitely draw some positives from this type of play. There are several reasons why playing more hands can be of use for those counting cards:

  • When the card count is in favour of advantage players, they can increase their bet spread by simply making a bet on two hands at once.
  • By splitting your usual bet amount into two separate hands, card counters reduce the risk and variance.
  • Card counters can also keep the same level of risk by betting 75% of their usual single-hand bet on two separate hands. For instance, instead of betting £50 on one hand, go for a £35 bet per each of the two hands. The risk will be the same but the expectations will be higher.
  • During lower counts, card counters can switch to betting on two hands to get the low-value cards out of the shoe faster. Once the count is in their favour, they can switch back to single-hand play.
  • In double-deck blackjack, just before the cut card is revealed, card counters can switch to two-hand play to get a greater deck penetration
  • During a head-up play, spreading to two hands simultaneously can increase the chances of getting a high-value card against a dealer’s face-up card
  • Using this type of play can help card counters hide the fact they are using advantage play by starting a shoe betting on two hands with a minimum bet until the low-valued cards are dealt. Once the count favours players, they can go back to single-hand betting and increase their bet size.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing Two Hands in Blackjack

Advantages and DisadvantagesYou may be unsure whether it is a good idea to play two hands at once while you bet on blackjack. The truth is there are certain advantages and disadvantages related to the risk of making your bet on two hands instead of a single one. To decide whether this type of play is suitable for you, you should draw a comparison between the strong and weak points of betting on two hands.

Advantages of Betting on Two Hands

Advantages of Betting on Two HandsDepending on your personal preferences, you may see certain features of betting on two hands at once as positive or negative. Nevertheless, there are certain advantages to playing more hands that will appeal to some players.

Increase action during gaming sessions

Probably the biggest advantage of multiple-hand play is the fact that you can quickly make your blackjack sessions action-packed. If the game gets too boring and you are eager to get more action for your bets, you can choose to bet on two hands at once. That would lead to more hands being played per hour, even though you will actually play fewer rounds during the said time. Getting more hands per hour will also ensure more potential wins or losses, providing plenty of action for players.

Fewer fluctuations in bankroll

If you decide to bet on two hands at the same time, you may experience fewer fluctuations in your gaming balance. The reason for that is the possibility of landing a win and a loss on the two different hands played in the same round. That way, your loss in some rounds may be zero, evening out the ups and downs in your bankroll.

Playing two hands is better for advantage players

Players who utilise techniques like card counting, shuffle tracking, or reading clumps will benefit from betting on two hands at a time. Players using the tracking shuffles or reading clumps tactics could benefit from switching to a two-hands play whenever they expect high-value cards to come out in the upcoming rounds. Meanwhile, card counters would bet on two hands whenever the count is low as playing more hands will allow them to get rid of the low-valued cards faster. Whenever the count is in favour of the player, they would switch to single-hand play.

Disadvantages of Betting on Two Hands

Disadvantages of Betting on Two HandsWhile some players may find betting on two hands simultaneously more entertaining and advantageous, others will definitely see this as a riskier type of play. As this is not the best blackjack betting type for every player, there are certain disadvantages related to the practice of betting on two hands at the same time.

Increasing number of hands per hour

Whenever you decide to bet on two hands at once, you will lower the number of rounds played per hour. However, this type of play will ultimately increase the number of hands you will go through in an hour. As you will double the number of hands you play in a single round, you will still end up playing more hands compared to the scenario of playing a single hand in more rounds. The fast pace of playing hands does not appeal to some players and it can be seen as a disadvantage.

More hands equal more potential losses

Even though playing more hands may seem exciting to some players as it can increase the potential wins landed per hour, others may not appreciate this effect of betting on two hands. As you will go through more hands per hour, your potential losses in a single hour will also increase. That means that you may go through your bankroll faster and play for a shorter period of time.

Multiple hand play may not be suitable for inexperienced players

Make sure that you are simultaneously betting on two hands only if you can handle this type of play. If you cannot be quick with your decisions on both hands, it can be burdensome for the rest of the players on the blackjack table to wait for you. What is more, if you are still learning how to use the basic blackjack strategy, you may not be able to apply it to two hands at the same time. That is why this type of wagering is more suitable for advanced players.

Some casinos determine bet size on two hands

While this is not something that all casinos or virtual blackjack games would require, some blackjack tables may have specific conditions for playing two hands at the same time. Some blackjack variations may require players who spread to two hands to bet two times the minimum table bet on each hand.

Closing Thoughts on Betting Two Hands in Blackjack

ConclusionIf you see that a blackjack table is offering the option to bet on two hands at the same time, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. Just because you play on two hands simultaneously, this will not affect your winning chances as you will still play against the same house edge. The only thing that will change if you opt for a two-hand play is the number of hands you will go through in a single hour.

Playing more hands than usual has its perks and downfalls, with the essence of betting on two hands simultaneously mainly depending on players’ preferences. Going through more hands per hour will increase your potential hourly wins and losses. While that may appeal to some players, others prefer playing at a slower pace, enjoying longer blackjack sessions.

While it is true that betting on two hands at the same time will not significantly affect the winning chances of recreational players, card counters can definitely make the most of this type of betting. Going through low-value cards faster and playing at a quicker pace will allow card counters to achieve greater deck penetration and get a bigger advantage over the house. That said, it is up to you to decide whether it is worth it betting on two hands or you will be better off sticking to a simple one-hand play.

Related Articles