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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?

  • 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
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    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
  • Aren't the dealer always draw the first card to the player and not dealer himself? – 4 Leave Cover Oct 31 '16 at 4:33
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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.

  • I agree that the more information you have the better odds you have to make a good decision. – Ola Ström Oct 20 at 22:24
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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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The last position before the dealer is called "third base". As another person already answered, the benefit of playing 3rd base is that you get access to additional information about which cards have been dealt. You can make your decision based on basic blackjack strategy and/or the count if you're playing on a card counting level. I'm a life long blackjack player. I usually play in 3rd base for this exact reason. If 3rd base is not available then I like to play 1st base (the 1st position at the table) because you get to make your decisions first before anyone can do anything that might mess up your chance of getting a good hand (this is the main drawback of third base from my personal experience).

  • 5
    This answer demonstrates a misconception about probability common to many blackjack players - having another player act before you cannot "mess up your chance of getting a good hand" because the order of cards in a deck is random, and therefore any card can appear anywhere in that order. Playing contrary to basic strategy definitely worsens the odds if winning for each individual hand, but has no effect (outside of how any play will affect the count) on any other hand in the same round. – Nij Oct 13 at 7:26
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    This misunderstanding of probability is also encountered with players of other games. – Chenmunka Oct 13 at 10:28

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