In just about every brick-and-mortar casino you’ll find tables which offer what is known as Pitch Blackjack. These games can also be found in online casinos where they are referred to as single-deck or double-deck blackjack. The rules of the game are pretty much the same as when you play regular blackjack with only a few minor differences, but Pitch Blackjack demands an entirely different approach if you hope to be successful and cash out big. Also when playing online you get to either play for free/fun or make a deposit and play for real money. At the offline casinos such in Vegas, you either play blackjack for money or you stand and watch the game.
Why Is It Called Pitch Black jack?
Pitch Blackjack gets its name from the way in which the dealer deals the game. Instead of dealing from a shoe, the dealer holds the deck in his/her hand and “pitches” the cards to each player. Dealers are trained for many hours to perfect the pitching motion which lands the player’s cards face down right in front of them on the blackjack table. As we stated above, Pitch Blackjack is also a synonym for double-deck or single-deck blackjack. There are never more than two decks used in a Pitch Blackjack game.
How Is Pitch Blackjack Different?
Aside from how the cards are dealt to each player, there are some other key differences you should be aware of when playing Pitch Blackjack.
We’ve already mentioned that the main difference in Pitch Blackjack is the number of decks used in the game. Pitch Blackjack is played with either one or two decks instead of the six to eight deck setup found in most blackjack games. Because only one or two decks are used, the dealer deals the cards by hand and no shoe is used. The smaller number of decks in play makes it easier to apply methods of card counting while playing blackjack.
Secondly, you are allowed to handle the cards in Pitch Blackjack. This is because your cards are dealt face down instead of face up as in a normal game of blackjack. This creates some differences in how you act on your hand. We’ll cover these differences in detail a little later.
A third difference is that the table minimums for Pitch Blackjack tend to be significantly higher than those found in the standard game. Why is this? It is because the house assumes you will be attempting to count cards with only one or two decks in play. Because counting reduces the house’s edge, the minimum bets are increased. The house wants to make you risk more money per hand to offset the reduction in their edge.
The final difference in how Pitch Blackjack is played involves how the cards are cut before a round of play begins. A cutting card is used, just as in games which use six or eight decks, but the position where the card is inserted changes. In games involving a shoe about 3/4 of the deck is used before the cut card is reached and the deck is shuffled. In Pitch Blackjack the cut card is inserted closer to the top of the deck, about 1/2 the way down. This means that there are more cards below the cut card and that the deck will be shuffled more often. In most cases, the deck is shuffled after each hand of play in Pitch Blackjack. This is another way in which the house attempts to reduce the edge that comes from counting cards.
Acting on Your Hand In Pitch Blackjack
The options you have as a player when playing are exactly the same in Pitch Blackjack as they are in regular blackjack. You can hit, stand, double, split, or surrender. You can even take insurance against the dealer’s ace if you choose to do so.
Acting on your hand in Pitch Blackjack is done differently than it is done in a standard game. Remember, your cards are dealt face down. No one except you will see them until the hand is over. Why is this done? Again, the house assumes you are card counting and wants to make that difficult. Because you cannot see the cards of the other players at the table until the hand is over, maintaining a running count is more difficult.
An exception to the above is when you hold a blackjack, a bust hand, a splitting hand, or a doubling hand. In those cases you will be required to show the hand in order to collect your blackjack winnings or take action on the hand.
Here are the appropriate ways to act on your hand in Pitch Blackjack:
Counting In Pitch Blackjack
Pitch Blackjack is a favorite of card counters because it is much easier to count into two decks than it is into six or eight. There are numerous counting methods described in detail on Counting Edge, but for the moment let’s examine why counting is such a powerful tool in Pitch Blackjack.
The first reason card counting is so powerful in Pitch Blackjack is because there are only 4 or 8 aces in play. Even the beginning card counter can easily track the remaining aces in the deck and determine their chances of making a blackjack on a hand. By a similar token, there are fewer ten-value cards in the deck to keep track of.
The basic rule of card counting that you must always remember is this: more ten-value cards in the deck means that the deck is favorable to the player. If there are more face value cards remaining, the deck is favorable to the house.
Understanding and applying the count in Pitch Blackjack greatly reduces the house’s edge and gives you a greater chance to walk away with a substantial profit.
Standard House Rules In Pitch Blackjack
While House Rules can vary from casino to casino, the following rules are standard and can be expected to be found in almost every Pitch Blackjack game:
1. Cards are pitched face down. This is the hallmark of the game and one of the major differences between multiple-deck and double-deck blackjack games.
2. Once a card is dealt, no original wagers can be adjusted. Basically, all bets are closed as soon as the first card leaves the dealer’s hand.
3. Players can only handle the cards with one hand. Players may not bend, squeeze or otherwise mark the cards. Cards cannot be removed from the tabletop.
4. The dealer must hit 16 and must stand on all 17’s. It is rare to find a game in Pitch Blackjack where the dealer is required to hit a soft 17.
5. To signal the dealer that you wish to hit your hand, scratch the table in front of you and towards yourself with your cards. Always be sure the dealer has registered your action correctly.
6. To stand on your hand you may either touch your bet or slide your two cards beneath your bet. The latter method is most commonly used in today’s casinos.
7. There are four hands which must be exposed immediately in Pitch Blackjack. These are hands which contain a blackjack and hands That bust, are split, or are doubled down.
8. Splitting is allowed up to three times in Pitch Blackjack. An additional bet equal to the original wager is required for each split hand.
9. Aces may be split in Pitch Blackjack, but only once. Each Ace receives only one additional card.
10. Doubling down after splitting a pair is not permitted in Pitch Blackjack. This is one example of where the rules of Pitch Blackjack often differ from standard blackjack. You will not be allowed to double a split hand.
11. Doubling down is allowed on any two original cards unless the player holds a blackjack. Doubling in Pitch Blackjack is not normally restricted to hands with hard totals of 9, 10, or 11. We have seen a very few casinos that will permit a player to double down a blackjack. Unless you are very skilled at counting, this is a risky play and should be avoided.
12. Hands that are doubled down will receive one additional card face down. Your double down bet must be equal to, or less than, your original bet. In other words, if your original bet was $10 you may double with any amount up to $10. When you use an amount less than your original wager this is known as “doubling for less.”
13. A player is permitted to play two hands in Pitch Blackjack, but must act on the first hand prior to looking at the second hand unless the dealer is showing an Ace. We would caution those who are not skilled in card counting to avoid playing more than one hand at Pitch Blackjack. The tempo of the game can be too much for an inexperienced counter.
Head-To-Head In Pitch Blackjack
Whenever you are playing blackjack online you will always be playing head-to-head against the dealer. In physical casinos, this is not always the case. There can be as many as six players at one blackjack table. If you can find a table where you are the only player and can play head-to-head with the dealer, always choose this option. It will be much easier for you to maintain an accurate count when the only cards you need worry about are yours and the dealer’s. To play blackjack for money online we recommend that you try one of the recommended casinos. You can read the Casino Max review, Miami Club casino review , High Country casino review, Cherry Jackpot casino review, or Roaring 21 review to name a few.