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I've read a few theories regarding which seat is the best in Blackjack.

I haven't been able to figure out if my own theory is correct. It won't apply to many situations, but when it does, I believe it would be best to be seated just before the dealer.

Theory: Assuming you have 16 and dealer has 11, and is your turn, I would say you best bet is to not take a new card (8/13 cards will result in you busting). However, if you're next to the dealer, you should definitely take a new card. The reason being: if it's between 1 and 5 you will get a better hand. If it's from 6 and up, you will bust, but the dealer would have gotten 17 or up if you didn't take it, thus beating you anyhow. This only applies if you're next to the dealer, (if not, someone else will take the card you didn't take, and the dealer could still get something low and bust on the next card).

I believe this would give you slightly better odds if you're next to the dealer. Am I wrong here? (I see that the advantage would be very small, however, I'm curious if my logic applies here. Any views?

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No hard math, but I would assume it would be complicated by the advantage of having someone else take the fall for you. – Guvante Dec 23 '13 at 17:55
Keep in mind that the basic strategy (non-card counting) doesn't changee with seating position. Either way, you still need to determine if hitting on a 16 vs 11 non-BJ dealer is better. With card counting, you get more information by sitting to the right of the dealer (all other players have either hit or stayed). If no one hits, you have the same info as sitting to the left, but if someone does you have seen extra cards. – user1873 Dec 23 '13 at 18:28

You are correct that the best seat is just before the dealer.

The reason for this is that you get extra information before deciding whether to hit or stay. Keep in mind that in your example, you would still have the same decision whether to hit or stay when sitting on a 16 and the dealer showing 11. The only difference, is that sitting to he right of the dealer allows you to see more cards if more than one person is playing and adjust the odds of drawing a particular card.

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Given 3 players and the dealer...

And assuming all hands are dealt face up except for the dealer's, and the dealer's is face down.

Everyone starts knowing 7 cards. 2 per player, plus 1 of the dealer's

  • Player 1 knows only 7 at his turn.
  • Player 2 knows between 7 and 12† at his turn, usually 8-9.
  • Player 3 knows between 7 and 17† at his turn, usually 9-11.

If the player is at a table dealt from a single deck, roughly and typically: player 1 knows about 1/7th the deck, player 2 knows about 1/6th, player 3 knows about 1/5th, without "card counting".

given a 4 player table, everyone starts knowing 9 of the cards, and typically adds 1-3 cards per player playing before him, weighted somewhat low (due to the number of face cards). Player 4 can end up knowing up to 18 cards (1/3 of the deck) before play.

Given the now standard dealing from a shoe, the advantage is much reduced. A shoe with 5 decks reduces the comparative advantage drastically, unless the player is card-counting from prior hands. If the dealer or the pit-boss suspects counting from hand to hand, the player may be asked to leave the table, or even the establishment.

† Many places limit draws to 5 cards; some even call a non-pust after 5 draws a win. Also, splits can result in extra hands on the table, increasing player 3's knowledge of the conditions.

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