How do you play 2 player blackjack or multiplayer blackjack, and how different is it to the single player version of the game?
Blackjack is a card game that works equally well as a single player game, and as a multiplayer game. But the more players you add to the table, the greater the impact on many parts of the game.
In 2 player blackjack, you might think you are only adding 1 other player, and that your job is basically the same – to focus on your own hand.
But from speed and hands per hour to extra information that can either help or hinder you, multiplayer blackjack is a very different beast.
Let’s look at how it works, the pros and cons, plus how to play blackjack at home without the need for a casino or dealer.
How multiplayer blackjack works
Of course you can play blackjack online as a single player game against the computer software, and that’s really what online blackjack looked like when it was invented in the late 1990s.
But go way back to the 18th century when the game was invented, and Blackjack has always been played as a multiplayer game in casinos.
I still like to play at my own table now and then, but in general blackjack is more fun as a multiplayer game, and that’s one of the reasons Live Blackjack online has become so popular.
It might not be as fast as the 1 player game (although two player blackjack online will still be very fast).
But you cannot beat a buzzing atmosphere, nor the extra action that comes from other players winning and losing alongside you.
What are the main elements to note about playing multiplayer blackjack?
- Number of players: At a typical casino blackjack table, you can play blackjack with between 1 and 7 players
- Order of play: The croupier deals one card face-up to each player, starting from the seat closest to the shoe near their left hand. They deal themselves one card face-up too, and then a 2nd card to each player to complete their starting hand. Each player then gets to play their hand out, in turn.
- Playing tips: In a live casino, the dealer will remind you when it’s your turn, so you don’t have to pay much attention. At an online casino, you should have pre-action buttons that let you make your decision ahead of time, which speeds up the game.
- Other players’ cards & decisions: As you get to see what cards everyone else is dealt, and what decisions they make, multiplayer blackjack is fascinating, and very different to the 1 player version.
Pros and cons of multiplayer blackjack
Some people love multiplayer blackjack and wouldn’t ever even consider playing alone, while others can’t stand the hustle and bustle, or the delays.
Check out our list of advantages and drawbacks to see if it’s right for you!
- More fun and social: The key benefit of blackjack with 2 or more players – we’re here to have a ball after all!
- Helps manage spend: A slower game means fewer bets and more time to consider your betting strategy
- Helps with counting cards: Seeing more cards dealt to others lets you keep a better count and occasionally adjust your play
- Chance to learn from others: If you’re starting out, sitting near an expert player can really help you improve. Ask them for tips!
- Slower pace of game: You will get far fewer hands per hour than a private game, but online at least, you can play multiple tables simultaneously
- Have to wait for your turn: There are lots of delays at a full table, so patience comes in handy
- Others may play different to you: If you’re a good player, you’ll have to accept that others will sometimes make terrible decisions. But it’s their money!
- Can encourage you to second-guess: Seeing more cards dealt to players acting after you can make it hard not to regret your play things go wrong.
Etiquette for 2-7 player blackjack
I’ve written about the do’s and don’ts of playing blackjack before.
But when you play live or online with other players at the table, there are some special etiquette considerations that matter even more than when you’re playing alone.
1. Ignore hindsight
This one is relevant for 1 player blackjack, but it’s especially important in multi-player blackjack.
Because you get to see more cards come out after you’ve made your decision, it’s easy to succumb to ‘what if-ery’, and wish you had made a different decision based on the eventual outcome.
But you don’t have a crystal ball, and all you can do is make the right decision at the time.
If you correctly stick on 16 against a 6, but then see the next card dealt to the player to your left was a 5, and the dealer goes on to beat your 16, it’s easy to wish you had taken a card.
This habit gets worse when you are first to act and there are many players behind you, because how they play can impact what the dealer gets, and therefore what happens to you.
Ignore the results and how others play, and just be confident in your ability to make sound decisions that work out in the long run.
2. Mind your business
How someone plays their hand is their business. You might be a blackjack strategy genius who could genuinely help someone play better, but unless they ask, for help, stay out of their game and focus on your own.
As well as advice, keep your criticism to yourself. There’s nothing more off-putting than a know-it-all at the table who berates you for your ‘bad play’ or complains about its impact on their own hand.
3. Don’t slow down the game
With a full table of 7 players, one round of blackjack can take several minutes, even if every player is switched on.
But once a player is distracted by their phone, the game can feel like a real grind.
Keep the flow going by making your decision while others play their hand, so you’re ready to act instantly when it’s your turn.
4. Be welcoming
Blackjack is such a simple and iconic game, and it attracts all types – veterans, skilled experts, time-killers, party goers and first-timers.
It can be a squeeze to fit 7 round a table too, so it just makes sense to give good vibes, and contribute to a great atmosphere.
It’s impossible to win consistently or to predict whether you’ll have a winning or losing session, but one thing you can control is whether you have fun.
How to play blackjack with 2 players at home
Before we wrap this up, here’s a few tips on how to run a blackjack game with your friends for fun.
You’ll obviously need a deck of cards and some chips, but in blackjack with 2 players, you’ll also need to select someone to play the role of dealer.
It’s much easier to act as the dealer, because you only have one rule to follow: Keep hitting until you make 17 or more.
You can’t split or double or take insurance. So being the dealer is simple, which helps as you’ll be dealing cards, counting totals and helping the game run smoothly.
Just remember to shuffle the deck after each hand, and offer your friend the chance to cut the deck, so they feel that the game is fair!
The odds are stacked in your favour anyway, so it’s important to make sure the deal is random and there’s no opportunity to question the results.
It’s also a good idea in two player games to take turns being the dealer, so both of you are subject to the house edge for the same number of hands.