Does Seat Position Matter in Blackjack?

Updated On August 5, 2022
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If you’re a gambling fan, you already know that blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. This popularity makes it a very competitive game, and players have come up with multitudes of tips and strategies to help them win. However, none of them is definite and exact. Discussions over what elements of blackjack affect its gameplay are always on the table. One of them concerns seat positions.

To that end, this article discusses seat positions in blackjack table and their significance for the game’s outcome. Keep reading to learn more.

What’s the Best Seat at a Blackjack Table?

As we’ve mentioned, opinions are divided concerning the importance of seating arrangements in blackjack. Some players believe your seat position at the blackjack table has no impact on the gameplay. Others, however, claim that where you sit can directly affect the game’s outcome. In addition, some players also attribute good and bad luck to specific seats. 

All of these theories can be very confusing, especially if you’re new to blackjack and are trying to learn the ropes. So, we must establish one basic fact — sitting in a particular position at the blackjack table gives you no mathematical advantage. It also, by extension, doesn’t affect the house edge.

Nevertheless, most blackjack players still have preferences. We cannot refute arguments about seating positions based on luck. Neither can we deny that beginners or card counters might find some seats more suitable than others. We’ll discuss all of these theories in the following sections. 

What Are the Blackjack Table Seating Positions?

Blackjack tables seat players in a semicircle. Land-based casinos feature up to six or seven seats, depending on the venue. Three out of those seats have names and carry some relevance for blackjack players. We’re referring to the first base, third base, and shortstop.

1. First Base

The first base in blackjack is the seat on the far right of the table, facing the dealer. It’s the position occupied by the player who receives the cards and plays each hand first. Many players prefer first base because they feel that being the first to get cards and play gives them more control over the game. Others simply like to act first.

Players might also say that the first base player’s decisions affect the game’s flow. So, having a seasoned player in this position might benefit the rest of the players, especially the inexperienced ones. However, sitting in this position at a blackjack table does not change your odds of winning.

2. Third Base

If you’re new to blackjack, you’d probably guess third base refers to the middle seat at the table. However, that’s not the case. The third base position is the last seat from the right or the first from the left of a blackjack table. It’s also known as the anchor. It’s occupied by the player who’s the last to receive cards and act during each round.

The third base is the most-talked-about position in blackjack. Many believe that third-base players’ decisions impact the dealer’s play because they act just before the dealer. For that reason, you might hear or see other players blame them if the dealer wins and the rest of the table busts. 

This belief has no factual foundation, but it’s still prevalent. So, we recommend you stay away from this position if you’re an amateur blackjack player. Having negative experiences like these from the get-go won’t benefit you in the long run.

3. Shortstop

The shortstop position is the seat in the middle or center of the blackjack table. It is the least popular one of the three we’re discussing here. Still, some players prefer the shortstop for several reasons. The shortstop gives you a decent view of the table overall. It can also give its occupant the ability to prevent new players from taking third base, allowing existing players to place extra bets. Blackjack beginners favor this seat for all the above.

Best Seat for Blackjack Card Counters

Seat positions in blackjack probably have the most importance in card counting. The reason for this lies in how the strategy works and that it’s prohibited in most casinos. Let’s start with the first argument.

Card counting relies on the players’ ability to see the cards being dealt. They wouldn’t be able to keep track of them and make calculations otherwise. For this to work, the card counter needs to have a good view of the table. So, they must sit in a position that allows it.

In the first and third base, card counters can view the entire table without moving their head. This is where our second argument comes in. Both of these positions also allow players to use the prohibited strategy undetected. 

But which seat is better out of these two? If they can choose between the first and third base seats, card counters usually go for the latter. The reason is that the third base allows them to act last. It gives them more time to count, check their calculations, and make the right decision.

How to Pick a Good Blackjack Table?

Before thinking about seat positions, you’ll have to find a good blackjack table to play. Don’t jump the gun and join the first one you see. Several important factors can help you pick the right table for you. They include:

1. Betting limits

In land-based casinos, minimum and maximum betting limits are usually written on a sign next to the table. Have a good look at them and think about your budget. A good tip for deciding whether the betting limits fit your budget is to divide your bankroll by 20. The result indicates what minimum bet you should look for at the casino.

2. Playing rules

Different casinos offer blackjack variants with different rules. Check whether the table allows players to surrender, double down, or re-split aces. Also, determine whether the dealer has to stand on soft 17, what hands you can double down on, and what the payoff for untied blackjack is. These rules affect the house’s advantage, so it’s good to note them.

3. Number of decks

You can play blackjack with 1 to 8 decks. The higher the number of decks in the game, the higher the house edge will be. Tables with a smaller number of decks are harder to find but worth the search.

4. Number of players

Blackjack is played against the dealer but can have 2 to 7 players at the table. Your bankroll will be less exposed to the house edge if you play at a table with more players. So, look for full tables, or at least those with more players. Avoid facing the dealer alone.

What Are the Online Blackjack Seating Positions?

Online live dealer blackjack games provide the same seating as brick-and-mortar versions of this game. However, players don’t get all the advantages land-based blackjack seating positions offer. The game is streamed, so you don’t get to see the table from different perspectives depending on where you’re sitting.

Nevertheless, the rules of card dealing and order of play we mentioned for first and third base also apply online. You can try playing the game from various positions and compare your experiences. This way, you’ll learn how much seat positions affect your play and prepare for a land-based gambling session.

FAQ

Which is the best seat at a blackjack table?

Playing in a particular seating position in blackjack doesn’t give you a mathematical advantage. However, some players believe certain seats bring them more luck, give them a feeling of control, or help them use their strategy better. In that sense, the best seat position in blackjack depends on your gameplay and personal preferences.

How to pick a good blackjack table?

You have to consider several components if you want to pick a good blackjack table. They include the betting limits, playing rules, number of decks used in the game, and number of players at the table. You can find details on each category in one of the sections above.

Does seat position matter?

Seat position won’t improve your odds of winning a blackjack game, according to mathematics. Nevertheless, it might help your gameplay, depending on your strategy. For instance, the card counting strategy requires you to see the entire table well, so it works better from the first and third base. 

What is the best seat for beginners?

While there are no definite rules on what seats beginners should take, they are usually recommended to avoid third base. Many believe the third-base player’s actions directly influence the dealer’s play, which is a lot of pressure for a rookie. Beginners might find the shortstop position more suitable since it still gives them a decent view of the table and allows them to prevent players from taking the third-base seat.

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About

Hi my name is Nick, welcome to my site... I’ve been a Professional Blackjack Player for over 13 years now. I live in Southern California, but travel all over the US playing blackjack as a business. When it comes to blackjack, casinos and card counting (which I can train you to do), I’ve seen it all and done it all. Stay tuned to my site for all the latest going ons and updates from the blackjack world