Can Poker be Played With 2 Decks?


Maybe you have a bunch of friends who want to gather on the weekends and play some poker together. If it’s a lot of you, then you might be tempted to use 2 decks so everyone could play. However, this doesn’t really make sense, and there are far better and efficient solutions.

can you play poker with 2 decks?
Many card games can be played with 2 decks. How about in poker?

Can poker be played with 2 decks? No, you can only use a single deck for one hand in poker. If you have too many buddies who want to play but not enough cards in the deck, then simply divide them in multiple tables. There is a common practice, however, in casinos to use 2 decks to speed up the game.

You can do the same in home games. You can use two decks to speed up the game. If you don’t have a dedicated dealer like in casinos, then have the person who dealt the last hand, collect the cards and shuffle them. During this time, the new dealer can already start to deal another deck of cards.

Can you Play Poker with Multiple Decks?

Nothing, of course, prohibits you make up your own rules and play with multiple decks. However, if you decide on this, you need to know it will be tough to come up with proper hand rankings. How would you value now cards of the same suit and same rank? This would cause a lot of confusion, and it is no surprise that poker is not played with 2 decks or more.

one deck
You can create a fun game with buddies and play with 2 decks. This can, however, cause some confusion.

Official rules state that poker is played with a single deck of 52 cards. This is quite different from blackjack that can be played with many decks.

Maybe now you are wondering if you could count cards in poker. Fewer card decks, the easier it is, right? It doesn’t work like that in poker, and in this article, I explain why.

If you want to go ahead and play poker with 2 decks, then you need to consider the following:

  • If you play with friends and for play money only, then sure go for it, for some extra fun. But now you need to define how much actually is 5 of a kind worth. What happens when a card of the same suit and same rank comes. Do you treat it like any other card, or different? Is it easier to make a flush now, and harder to make a pair? All of that would need to be defined beforehand to avoid confusion.
  • If you play for money and you invite unknown people to play the game, then I would seriously avoid playing with 2 decks in a single hand and stick to the official rules. This would cause a lot of confusion amongst them, and a lot of them would believe the game is rigged, even if you let them know beforehand that you are playing with 2 decks.
  • This will cause you to play fewer hands per hour, which might bore others. Now you have more cards to shuffle. And you have players that are not used to play this kind of poker, so they need to think longer than before to make a move.
  • If you are together with friends and have defined special rules, then playing poker with 2 decks can be a lot of fun. No one knows this kind of poker well so that everyone would start on even ground, and nobody would have a massive advantage at first. Although sometimes it is good to mix the things up, it might be better to try other poker formats first and use 2 decks as a last resort. Maybe first try playing Omaha, Chinese poker, or Pineapple poker. Those three should keep you busy for some time.

How Many Decks do You Need for Poker?

One deck of 52 cards is all you need for a game of poker. Of course, if you have multiple tables, then you need multiple decks, one for each table.

one deck of 52 cards
One deck consists of 52 cards.

One deck with 52 cards could, in theory, be enough for:

  • 22 Holdem players
  • 9 7card STUD players
  • 11 Omaha (4 card Omaha) players
  • 8 players for Omaha (5 card Omaha)

There are special rules in place in case the deck would be out of cards. In triple-draw, you can reshuffle the discards if players take too many cards, and in 7 card Stud, the river can be a community card that everyone shares.

Some players might not like this approach too much. Firstly 11 players sitting behind a poker table is not too comfortable. And secondly, some players just aren’t too happy that all cards are getting used, as funny as it sounds.

It is much better if you split those players into two tables and just buy one more extra deck. 2 decks of professional poker cards will cost you less than 10 bucks.

Two decks of cards costs less than $10
Often 2 decks of cards get sold together. A good quality pack like this consisting of 2 decks will cost you less than $10.

How many decks do casinos use in Texas Holdem?

Casinos often use 2 decks per poker table. This doesn’t mean you play a game with 2 packs. One pack is used for playing, and the other one is getting shuffled by a machine in the meantime. Once you finish the hand, switch the decks. And this process keeps repeating.

If dealers are still manually shuffling the cards, then usually one deck will be enough.

Using two decks instead of one speeds up the process, and every extra hand you can get dealt per hour means bigger hourly for you and the casino.

shuffle cards
In casinos, 2 decks are used to speed up the game. They are not used simultaneously.

Related Questions

Can poker be played with 2 players?

Poker can be played with 2 players. This kind of poker is quite popular, and it’s called heads up poker. Many people wonder if playing poker against a single opponent is actually beatable or is pure luck. If you are one of those, then I have this great article or you. PS: the graph in the linked YouTube video is in millions ;).

There are several different options in how you can play poker for 2 players:

  • cash games
  • sit & Go
  • tournaments

The most standard way of playing heads up poker is to play it as a cash game. Each of the players plays with a certain amount of money that can be transferred into chips. Blinds will remain the same all the time, and you can sit out and leave the table at any time you want. It is hard to find such games in casinos. Mostly you can find them online, and they are quite popular.

You can also play it as an SIT N Go. Players buy-in with the same amount, and that gets converted into chips. Blinds keep increasing, and the game is over when one of the players wins all of the chips. Again this format is mostly found in online games.

Heads Up poker tournaments are pretty much the same as sit n go’s, except now when you win your first match, then you wait to get another player who won at the other table. It is a simple system of elimination. And prizes are top-heavy, just like in regular tournaments. This format can mostly be found online, but at special events like WSOP, you can find these tournaments at live games as well.
Many poker pros play heads up because, to them, nothing beats two players battling out. It is a real showcase of who is more skilled. No 3rd guy is interfering. The small blind gets posted by the button, and the big blind is always out of position. If you want to read more, then check out this article I wrote.

Conclusion

Now you know why poker can’t be played with 2 decks or more. It’s a one-deck game. This doesn’t mean that a simple strategy is enough to be successful at poker.

Poker is a far deeper game than the majority of card games are. Just for preflop alone, there are 1,326 possible hand combinations in Texas Holdem. Not to mention 270,725 hand combinations in Omaha. Poker is a game that is very easy to learn but takes a long time to master. Even after years of playing, you keep learning something new about the strategy.

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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