Knowing where to sit at a blackjack table may be the difference between waiting for a seat at a packed table and getting stuck into a table with only a few players.
While sitting at a certain seat doesn’t have any mathematical advantage, for new players and card counters, certain seats are crucial for game play.
Blackjack table seating positions
Before we get stuck into where we should sit, we need to know what these positions are called in blackjack lingo. Each are termed according to their position and what advantages players have said they have sitting there. However, statistics prove all seats are equal for the basic strategy player, but they do have certain advantages and disadvantages associated even though they don’t have anything to do with the odds of the game.
While blackjack tables at brick and mortar casinos can feature up to six or seven players, only three positions are prominently named with two of them discussed more so than the other. Additionally, blackjack tables aren’t always full so these seats may not always be taken.
Blackjack first base – The first seat on the far right facing the dealer is known as the first base position. This is because cards are dealt by the dealer to this position first from the dealer’s left player to right player and this first base positioned player will get the cards first, as well as being in the position that enables them to be the first to hit, stand, split, double down, or surrender on their hand.
Blackjack third base – While many blackjack players mistakenly think third base is the third or middle seat, they’ll find they are incorrect. The third-base position is actually the last seat from the right or the first seat on the left. This position is sometimes referred to as the anchor and sees the player receiving the first two cards dealt by the dealer last, as well as being the last player to decide and act on what they want to do with their hand.
Shortstop position – This one isn’t as commonly mentioned as the two above as it doesn’t come with as much responsibility, which we will discuss below. This seat is located in the middle of the table and can actually prevent other players to the left of them from joining the table.
Which is the best seat at a blackjack table?
Statistically, it doesn’t really matter where you sit, unless you plan to count cards. Many state third base is the best seat, while we recommend it as the worst seat for the new blackjack kids on the block. It has been suggested that the third base seat has the advantage of whether or not the table as a whole wins or loses, however this is not mathematically correct.
This theory has come about because the third base player performs their action just before the dealer. If this player who sits at third base hits instead of stays when basic strategy recommends them to do so, this can see players blaming the third base player if the table loses. This is exactly why players who are new and do not know how to play basic strategy should not sit at third base, as it could result them having a negative experience and being mistakenly blamed for the tables loss, despite the theory not being mathematically correct.
Similarly regarded is the first base position which not only offers the entire view of the table, but the discarded pile as well meaning you can keep an eye on what cards have been drawn and what cards haven’t. However, this position is second in line to receiving glares from other players if they lose – so be prepared for the responsibility.
The shortstop position, on the other hand, gives a good view of the table. But it’s not as good as first or third, but is said to stop players from sitting at third base if the seat is open, meaning less players and more chances to put on an extra bet.
Depending on the amount of players, other seat positions aren’t usually mentioned. However if you want to view other players and their moves, fourth position (to the left of the shortstop position) offers a view of the entire table. Although statistically speaking other player’s moves do not affect your gameplay as they can ultimately both hurt and help your hand, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on players who are on a winning streak. You may be able to pick up some handy strategy hints this way.
Additionally, if you do not like the responsibility of being dealt the first and last cards of a hand we recommend to sit in the second or fourth seats depending on how many players there are at the table. If there is only the third or first base position available when you join the table remember that statistically it doesn’t affect the table’s odds at all so try to enjoy the experience.
How to pick a good blackjack table
At land-based casinos you will find there are multiple blackjack tables available to join, some fuller than others. With so many available it can be hard to know what to look for in order to pick a good table. We have made it a lot easier for both new and experienced players when it comes to picking a good blackjack table.
Betting limits – Keep an eye out for the minimum and maximum table limits which are displayed on the signs next to the table. For experienced gamblers, keeping an eye out for land-based casinos which colour code their signs can make it easier and quicker to pick and choose where you sit. For example, red equals a $5 minimum bet, while black equals a $100 minimum bet – corresponding to the colour of chips, making this easier to remember. The best way to figure out your betting limit is to set a bankroll and divide by 20. For example, if you have set yourself a $100 bank roll, then you should play at a table with a minimum betting limit of $5.
Blackjack dealers – Blackjack dealers can effect your overall experience whether you are a new blackjack player or a professional. We recommend standing back and watching the dealers to see how fast they deal, see if they provide help (important if you are a new player) or see if they let you know how much you have in a hand as they are dealt. These features will ultimately come down to what you want in a blackjack dealer as an experience player doesn’t want to be told basic tips, while a new player does.
Seating positions – Although we did say all seats at a blackjack table are considered mathematically equal, in terms of players it can be different. As we recommended standing back from the table with blackjack dealers, we recommend doing this if there are a few players seated so you can monitor their behaviour. If you notice a few players eyeing off the third base player after a loss it might be better to find a new table. If you are an experienced blackjack player however and you plan to count cards, the seating position is said to be incredibly important.
Best seat for blackjack card counters
Card counters actually have an advantage when it comes to the seating position. These players are recommended to sit in the third base position to give them more time to keep an eye on the table, as well as count, and of course bet last.
Card counters also have the same perception for first base. Additionally, these seats are recommended to avoid being detected as you have the vantage point of viewing the whole table without having to movie your head.
Unfortunately for card counters, they can’t do so online and really the entire concept of seating positions in blackjack goes out the window when we play blackjack on the Internet, but there is one exception.
Online blackjack seating positions
Note: This section regarding online play is intended for our international readers only. Online casinos were banned from offering their services in Australia as of September 2017 following the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, so for Australians the content on this page is informational in nature only.
This is where new players are best suited. If you are new to the game and seem to always end up sitting at the third base position only to receive horrible stares that make you want to opt out it might be best to go online until you are confident to play at a land-based casino.
However, there is an exception when playing online and this involves the live dealer blackjack variants. When you sign up for an online casino, we recommend doing so at our suggested online casinos due to their reputation, and make a deposit you can access the live dealer lobby where you will see blackjack as an available variant.
Here, you are able to pick the seat which you would like to sit at, provided the table isn’t full. This can give you the experience of picking a seat, and if the chat function is available you will be able to read players reactions as to where you are sitting. Any vulgar or inappropriate content is not tolerated at our recommended online casinos so it is the perfect place to practice sitting at third base.