A Card Counter’s Guide: Where to Sit at the Blackjack Table

– When counting cards,
what’s the most valuable
spot at the table to sit?
I’m gonna break down the
math of that question,
as well as a few considerations
for the next time you
hit the blackjack tables.
An inevitable question
when someone gets into card counting is
where at the table should I sit
or does it even matter?
First, let’s look at the expected value.
I ran a whole bunch of simulations
to see the difference in
win rate, or expected value,
of sitting first, or sitting
in the middle of the table,
or sitting last to act
at the blackjack table,
and the bottom line is
for a shoe game, meaning
a six or eight deck game,
there’s absolutely no
measurable difference
to sitting first, in the
middle, or sitting last.
In a double deck game,
however, there’s a very small,
I’m talking one to two,
less than 2% difference
if you are playing last compared
to if you’re playing first.
This is what I was expecting
’cause I remember hearing very
early on as a card counter
that when you play last,
you get a little bit more information
by seeing other players
cards from when they hit,
or split, or double down, or whatever,
that you can take that extra information,
it’s gonna make your playing decisions
a little bit more accurate,
but it’s a very small increase in EV.
So, the academic answer is
that it’s slightly more valuable
to play last in double deck
and it really doesn’t
matter in a shoe game.
But don’t overthink this,
we’re likely talking
about pennies per hour,
and there are a lot of
other ways to generate
a lot more than 1-2% more EV.
If you wanna generate another 1-2% EV,
play one or two more hands
at the end of the hour
or the end of the night.
Better yet, rather than playing last
at a table with multiple other players,
you’re way better off
playing a less crowded table
because you’re gonna get
in way more rounds per hour
if it’s a less crowded table
than a more crowded table.
I’m talking about twice as many,
like, a 100% increase in EV
or even a 200% increase in EV.
But beyond the EV, there
are a few other things
you might want to consider.
The first, of which, is if
you’re new to card counting,
it can actually be helpful to sit first,
and the reason why, is because
when you’re the first to act,
you have as much time as you need
to update the running count.
The dealer cannot deal until
you make a player decision,
and you might feel awkward
if you’re sitting there at First base,
and they’re saying, do
you wanna stand or hit,
and you’re saying, hold on,
but the reality is you have
as much time as you need
and what can happen is
if you’re playing last,
and you don’t have the count in time,
and this guy at First base
starts hitting his hand,
and he busts,
and they’re taking cards off the table,
you’re getting behind on the count.
You’re actually missing out on cards,
and so, my advice is early
on sit at First base,
take your time, and control
the speed of the game,
so that you could
actually count accurately.
Another consideration is that
if you’re gonna play Third base,
which is the last to act,
it’s kinda stupid but
you have to be prepared
to get a little bit more
flack from the other players.
There’s this false gambler logic that
you’re playing decisions
impact the whole table
and that’s not true.
You can run computer simulations
and there’s no measurable impact.
Your playing decisions don’t
affect the player’s odds.
Yeah, sometimes, your
decision makes everyone lose,
sometimes your decision
makes everybody win,
but it doesn’t affect
the odds of the game.
But, don’t tell a gambler that
because they believe that
Third base is the anchor,
they’re responsible for the
whole table winning or losing.
It’s stupid, it’s not logical,
but that’s what they think.
So, if you’re gonna play Third base,
be prepared for someone to say,
hey, you screwed up the dealer’s hand,
and, you know, my advice
is to ignore them,
but if you just wanna avoid
that flack all together,
just sit somewhere else.
One final consideration is
if you sit at First base,
keep your eyes out because there are times
when you can catch a glimpse
of the dealer’s bottom card
and if you know how to
use that information,
it can be a piece of information
to use as a card counter.
I’m not talking about
shuffle tracking here,
but if you’ve been to one
of our blackjack boot camps
you likely know what I’m talking about
because it’s something I always
cover during a boot camp.
It’s a small bit of information
but it’s still a bit of
information that can be used
for your advantage.
So, here’s the deal,
sitting at First base or at
the middle or at Third base,
the last spot,
that’s not the difference
between being a successful card counter
and an unsuccessful card counter.
There’s really very little
measurable difference, if any,
where you sit.
What does make you a
successful card counter
is perfect basic strategy,
perfect counting,
perfect betting and true count conversion,
and knowing the playing deviations
so that you can have a strong
edge against the casino.
If you wanna learn more
about beating casinos with blackjack,
you can subscribe to this YouTube channel,
and you can also check out
where for 10 years now,
we’ve been training people
how to beat casinos legally
with card counting for real money.


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