No matter how rational you are, you almost certainly have some sort of superstition that you take with you to the casino. Maybe you always order the same drink, play with the same dealer, or look away from the roulette wheel while the ball is spinning. Even if you personally don’t do anything like this, it’s certain you play with people who do – superstitions have always been (and will always be) a part of gambling.
For the most part, these superstitions are harmless. However, there’s one superstition that probably causes more fights in casinos than all the others combined. Worst of all, despite what most people think, it really doesn’t affect the odds of the game one bit, making the anger and frustration that result from it completely unnecessary.
Avoid Common Blackjack Superstitions
What am I talking about? Simply the idea that the player at “third base” in a blackjack game – that is, the last person to act – can hurt the other players if they play incorrectly. Many players insist that when the final player to act takes cards they aren’t supposed to, they will tend to take cards that would have busted the dealer, making it more likely that the dealer will make a winning hand, thus costing the other players at the table money.
If you’re familiar with odds and probability, it should quickly be apparent why this isn’t the case – but even if you aren’t, a quick example should suffice to show why this superstition is one to ignore.
If the player chooses to stand, the dealer will get the top card in the shoe. If the player chooses to hit, the dealer will get the second card in the shoe. Essentially, this is the only thing that the final player’s decision changes; if he hits, it’s no different than the dealer burning a card before taking one for their own hand.
Is there any reason to expect that the second card in the shoe will be more favorable to the dealer than the first one? Of course not. We cannot predict what order the remaining cards will come in, nor does the “correctness” of the final player’s decision in hitting or standing have any effect on this. In fact, if we randomly shuffled the entire remaining shoe and then gave the dealer a card, the odds would still be exactly the same.
There are more complex math-based explanations that prove this to be true, but hopefully that simple thought experiment is enough to make you realize that your odds of winning are the same whether or not the final player at your table hits or stays. While it’s undoubtedly frustrating when a strange decision does end up costing you a bet, there’s no reason to berate the player for their play. In the long run, it’ll have no impact on your results – and everyone will have a lot more fun if you just shrug and move on to the next hand.