It’s Not The Blackjack Third Base’s Fault

It’s Not The Blackjack Third Base’s Fault

I’m an avid player of Blackjack.  Unfortunately it pisses me off when people tell you to do a move you shouldn’t be doing, or when people blame you for their loss because you’ve made the dealer get certain cards.  This is especially true when you are sitting at the third base.

For those who don’t know what Blackjack is, basically it’s a card game where you try to reach a sum of 21 or as high as possible without busting (over 21) and your objective is to have a sum higher than the dealer’s (so you’re not competing against the players).  In most casinos, dealers are forced to stand at 17 or above (they also bust if they have a sum over 21).  Hitting is to draw a card, standing is to indicate you are done drawing cards.  Many rules vary between different casinos, and each slight variation of rule can impact the house edge.  There are usually six or seven seats in the game, with the first seat (first to be dealt cards and first to act) known as first base, and the last seat (last to be dealt cards and last to act) known as third base.

When you sit at the third base, people inherit an illogical assumption that you could make or break the game.  To a certain extent, there is a little bit of logic to it (which I’ll explain in a future post) but the reason I use the word illogical is because often they are basing it on inaccurate deductions.  This is frustrating when you’ve followed the basic strategy faultlessly and you just happen to keep busting or keep causing the dealer to get 20 or 21.  The other players will then blame you for hitting another card, or standing and allowing the dealer to catch a great card.  And often, these other players say this after they see the results.

For example, say you have a 16 and the dealer shows an 8.  Basic strategy suggests that you hit, and you get 19.  The dealer draws the cards 5 then 8, getting a 21.  The dealer collects the chips from everyone, and the other players blame you because they will say, “You shouldn’t have taken the card!  The dealer could have gone bust (with a 24).”  But how could you have known that it would have turned out to be a 5 then 8 afterwards?  How could they have known what cards will be drawn out?  It could just as likely have caused the dealer to bust had you drawn the card.  As long as the dealer beats them, regardless of whether you’ve played your hand correctly or not, they blame you.  This is annoying when ironically, it’s the other players on the table that don’t know shit.

In fact, if the player in the third base can be blamed, so too can the players in the middle positions or the first base.  What makes the player in the third base different from that of the other positions?  Let’s say there are 6 players and the dealer currently shows a 10.  Everyone receives their 2 cards and everyone stands, except for the person at third base.  She instead decides to hit.  Therefore, 2*6 + 1 (1 card hit) + 1 (1 card of dealer) means 14 cards are dealt.  The dealer draws the 15th card and she ends up getting a Blackjack, beating everyone.  Now imagine if the first base person had hit one card instead of stand, and the third base doesn’t hit.  In that scenario, the third base will get blamed again, but this time it wasn’t even the third base that drew the card, it was first base.  So regardless of what the person at third base does, she gets blamed!  And I think this phenomenon occurs because everyone has already seen their cards and their totals, and everyone then expects the person in third base to make the correct move for the ‘team’, but the correct move would be to play according to Basic Strategy.  Since you don’t know what cards are going to be drawn after, you follow the Basic Strategy because it gives you the highest statistical advantage.

By the way, the assumption I’m using is that the dealers are using continuous shuffling machines (CSMs), which is common in many casinos nowadays.  To briefly explain their functionality, they prevent card counting as they automatically shuffle decks of cards each time they are dealt.  If someone knows the method and pattern of how these CSMs work please do contact me.

Another assumption I’m making is that casinos use an infinite amount of card decks.  The higher the # of card decks, the more that the basic strategy stays true.  With lower number of card decks, the play style can differ.  I will introduce this concept called Micro Counting at a future post that will clarify this assumption.

In a scenario where counting cards is possible (the absence of CSM, and shuffling of cards only when a certain portion of deck is dealt) then yes the third base can be very important.

What are some other illogical reasoning that you’ve observed or experienced?  I know another one that frustrates me is when players peek and bend their cards at Baccarat, even when doing so doesn’t change their cards.

This post may have been a little confusing, so please comment below for any questions or input you may have.

More on Blackjack seating positions:
http://bit.ly/HTSeatingPosition
http://abt.cm/1jVOdjk

More on Basic Strategy:
http://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/strategy/calculator/

Image via: http://eofdreams.com/blackjack.html

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Intrigued with ideas, strategies, and unconventional concepts. Interested in new and logical theories.

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