Blackjack - 1st or 3rd base?

When playing standard casino Blackjack against the dealer, is it better to sit at 1st base, (first cards from the shoe), or at 3rd base? (Last cards before the dealer’s turn)? And by “better” I mean does it improve your chances of winning.

I’ve always sat at 1st base, mostly b/c I don’t want some clueless other player taking my cards by hitting their fourteen when the dealer shows a five, but I have a friend that swears that 3rd base is better. (Mostly so he can control whether or not he’s taking the dealer’s card).

I know I’m going to get a response with a factorial equation about how the odds are exactly the same no matter where you sit - that’s not my question - I’m wondering if someone with in-depth Blackjack knowledge can tell me whether one seat favors the other and why.

I would go with the last hole -third base as you call it.

I’ve seen more clueless players who decide to hit when the dealer is showing say… a six, pull the high card that the dealer would have taken, and then ruin the hand for everyone.

If you are fairly competent, I would make sure that last hole is filled by a knowledgeable player and if not, take it yourself -or wait.

Granted, by taking the first hole you might not catch the grief from dipsticks who commit incredibly stupid moves -such as splitting face cards, I say you’re still better off at the last spot rather than the first.

<<I’ve seen more clueless players who decide to hit when the dealer is showing say… a six, pull the high card that the dealer would have taken, and then ruin the hand for everyone.>>

But you’ve never seen clueless players who decide to hit when the dealer is showing a six, and pull the low card that would have saved the dealer, making everyone win?!

I don’t think you’re going to change the odds of someone else doing something stupid based on where you sit. In theory, you would have slightly (very slightly) better odds by sitting at the last spot because you would have seen more cards by that point. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re tracking or counting cards and you see the other players’ cards.

Dang! I saw the topic and thought there was something new in the world of foreplay! Guess I’m not missing much after all …

He’s exactly right. The more cards you see, the higher accuracy your running count has (albeit very slight), the greater your return. The dipstick sitting next to you that split’s 6’s into an ace has no effect on your hand. You don’t know what the next card is going to be, so the cards that “you would have gotten” are irrelevant.

As others have mentioned, the play of others at the table has absolutely no effect on you - their mistakes are just as likely to help you as hurt you.

One exception - don’t play at the same table with card counters. Not only will they attract pit attention, but they tend to join the game when the deck is hot, and leave when it’s cold. That means on average you will wind up playing more hands with a bad deck and less hands with a good one. So the house has an even bigger than normal advantage over you.

If you’re not a card counter, it doesn’t matter where you sit. Pick a seat farthest away from the most obnoxious people at the table. For me, being a non-smoker, that means as far away from the smokers as possible.

For a card counter, 3rd base has a very tiny increased advantage, equal to seeing one extra round of cards per shoe, useful for playing strategy adjustments only. And since playing strategy adjustments make up only a tiny percentage of the overall gain for a counter, the overall gain to you is pretty trivial.

For a card counter, playing third base has one major disadvantage - the pit tends to watch the 3rd base players more carefully, especially in single-deck games where 3rd base actually translates into a pretty substantial gain for playing strategy variations. So it’s usually the LAST seat I will choose, since the biggest risk to my continued existance as a professional player is being booted out by the casino. It’s not worth the extra heat to gain an additional .02% advantage over the house.

There is an interesting strategy you can play in single deck if you are a card counter - it’s called ‘Depth Charging’. It involves playing all squares, but putting much bigger bets on the later squares than the earlier ones. The gains from strategy variation in the later hands more than overcomes the house edge on the earlier ones, and you can make an overall profit without having to scale your bets up and down. Unfortunately, the casinos tend to be on to that little trick now, and a depth-charger will find himself barred pretty quickly if he’s playing for significant stakes.

OK, thanks for the tips, everyone. I’ll sit at third from now on, I’ll take that .02% if I can get it.

It really bugs me when people get mad because I split a 20 because the dealer is showing a 6 and I want to win twice rather than once, or hit my 14 because I’m feeling some low cards. They only notice when they lose because of it, not when they win because of it, and when they say stuff to me I point out the times I make them win. Also, sitting first does not make you immune to this, because the people after you affect the next hand anyway. Those “blackjack rules” are crap. Gotta go with the gut feelings.

I prefer 3rd base, more for the peace of mind that I know that the dealer is getting his card immediately after someone who knows how to play.

I know it doesn’t matter, not knowing what cards are coming. But I once sat at 1st base at a table when two doofuses (doofii?) sat “shortstop”. They hit at all the wrong times (e.g., they had 14, the dealer showed a 5, they hit and got a ten, then the dealer hits his 15 gets a 6. :rolleyes: ), making me mad when my 17 that would’ve won didn’t.

That’s a nice way to lose a lot of money really quickly. Blackjack is a discrete game with discrete rules. There are proven ways to win. You are more than welcome to play any way you want, but you won’t win with “gut feelings.” At the end of the day, it’s whatever makes you feel good I suppose, though.