Blackjack is a card game that is easy for the beginner to learn and lots of fun to play, especially when there are other people around you having a good time. It’s fast moving and not too complicated. But as with everything else in life, it’s more satisfying to play when you win - especially if you are playing with real money. Nobody wants to lose money at cards. You can improve your chances of walking away with more chips than you arrived by adopting a winning blackjack strategy. Such a strategy will work whether you play in a casino or play online blackjack.
Play Blackjack with Style
Usually a casino blackjack table seats 5 to 7 players. A good blackjack strategy will include taking advantage of the flow of play by picking the right place to sit. That is just as true if you play online blackjack as it is if you play at an actual table. Picking the ideal place to sit at the table takes some thought and circumstances may not originally favor your first choice of a seat. This is true when you join a game that is already in progress. You may not be able to lay claim to your favourite seat right away. However, if the game is just getting started or if the table is nearly empty you can usually find your ideal location. You can always move to another table or move as seats are freed up from players leaving. Your patience will be rewarded.
Play Blackjack with the Right Position
The first thing to do before you sit down to play blackjack is familiarize yourself with the positions on the blackjack table, both at an actual table and if you play online blackjack. The positions at the blackjack table have been given names reminiscent of the baseball field. For example, the seat farthest on your right hand side is called first base. This is not the most popular seat—in fact, most people avoid sitting at this location if they have their choice. The reason for its unpopularity is that this seat gets dealt its cards first. The player stuck there does not get a chance to see other hands and modify his betting as a result. He is at somewhat of a disadvantage. You don’t want to rely entirely on luck. You want the position to favour you as much as is possible.
At the opposite end of the table is so-called third base, occupied by the player who is dealt the last set of cards. Because he is dealt the last cards, and gets to see everyone else hands first, he decides last how to bet. This might seem to be a good thing, but other players sometimes hold this player responsible for their bed luck and so pay far more attention to what this player does than they do other players. A bad sport might accuse the player on third base of "stealing the dealers bust card.” Because of this increased scrutiny, players often avoid this seat as much as they would first base.
On the other hand, if you are sitting at first base, you will be a very popular player, because players who care about such things won’t mind if you adopt a careful “basic” blackjack strategy because they will assume that you are less likely to win anyway. They will cut you some slack if you are counting cards. But you still should not be obvious about it because the dealer is always on the look out for card counters.
Don’t get the idea that players in those two positions are more or less lucky than other players, because they are not. Statistically your chances of winning in first base are no different from your chances of winning at third base. However, that has nothing to do with the perceptions of other players.
The middle positions at the blackjack table are obviously the goldilocks positions—just right. You can see the other positions and cards better. It is also a good place to sit if you like to count cards. However, the casinos understand that card counters prefer these seats and so you are subject to more scrutiny if you sit there. You don’t want to be obvious enough that you are asked to leave by security. Card counters who are good at it train themselves to be able to count the cards accurately and unobtrusively no matter where they sit. Little complications like that are just part of the game. They even add spice to it.
Some Other Things to Keep in Mind
Let’s apply this knowledge to a hypothetical situation.
Find a blackjack table that you are comfortable with and with odds that favor the player. Well, actually you won’t find any games where the odds favour the player—a casino that did that would go out of business—but you can find them with odds that are close to even. These are the tables where you want to pull up a chair and sit down. You may be in for a profitable evening.
You should avoid a crowded table that has more than four players. When you arrive at a table, do not immediately join the game. Instead, take some time to study the table, the players, the dealer and the layout. You should not join a blackjack game unless at least 15 cards are shuffled per game and the dealer goes past the halfway mark in the deck before reshuffling. That way you can get a better idea which cards have been dealt and which cards remain in the deck.
So, to recap: while you are perfecting your card counting blackjack strategy, the best place to sit, where you will attract the least amount of unwanted attention, is first base. The beginning card counter will find this position least stressful. It will give you time to think about your strategy, play the cards within that strategy, and count the cards. Soon, however, as you improve you basic play and card counting, you will want to move to third base, where you will be able to see the most number of cards dealt before you have to make up your mind whether to hit or stay. That way you will be acting with the best information possible. From then on, third base will be your preferred base of operations.