Don't Blame Third Base
The seat at the Blackjack talbe that is last to act before the dealer is known as third base. If the player in this seat deviates from basisc strategy and the dealer wins, they are blamed by the other players....
Casino Players are an optimistic bunch. We know deep down that the casino has the edge on most games and the games we play have a negative expectation. This is a fancy way of saying that in the long run we will lose. But we also know that in the short run anything can happen.
This means that players can and do win. Nobody would go to a casino if they knew they were gong to lose each and every time. Some players study the games and make sure they are playing the best games with the lowest house edge. They take the time to learn the strategy for Blackjack, Video Poker and other games where their decisions can affect the outcome of the game.
Nobody likes to lose. Whether it is because of a competitive spirit or a quest for excellence, most of us have a burning desire to win. When some players lose they feel the need to blame their loss on something other than the mathematical reality of the game. They might blame bad luck, rotten cards, the dealer or even other players at the table. Other than at live poker, this happens the most at the Blackjack table.
At a Blackjack table the seat closest to the dealer that gets dealt to first is known as first Base. The seat of the player that receives the last cards before the dealer is known as third base. The other seats really are not designated in any way. The seat that concerns players the most is third base. This is because the player in this seat is the last to act before the dealer and the decisions that this player makes receive the most scrutiny.
Many Blackjack players who have learned basic strategy feel that since they took the time to learn it, everyone else at the table should also “know how to play.” If a player at third base makes a decision that goes against basic strategy, the other basic strategy players at the table get very upset. If the player takes a hit on a hand he should have stood on and takes the card that would have busted the dealer, and the dealer then wins the hand, watch out. The rest of the players at the table will blame the player at third base for their loss. I have seen some heated arguments, discussions, name calling or worse occur when this happens.
The reality is that the only player that can affect your game in the long run is the player sitting in YOUR seat. Players tend to have selective amnesia. They remember the times that the third base player takes a card which results in a loss, however they forget about all the times that the “mistake” by the third base player actually saves the table.
Another situation that the “Basic Strategy Experts” fail to consider is that the player at third base may indeed be a card counter. A card counter will make decisions that go against basic strategy based on the relationship of the high and low cards left in the deck. So what looks like an idiot play by the player at third base in the eyes of the basic strategy player, may actually be the correct play for somebody who is counting cards.
But the players have no way of knowing this and the card counter is surely not going to defend the play to the others by telling them that the count justified the decision for doing it.
Don’t blame other players for their play. In the long run it will all even out for the basic strategy player. Remember the other player is playing with HIS money not yours. He has as much right to play the way he wants as you do. If you don’t like how someone plays at your table, you are free to get up and move to another table. If the player is new to the game you just might frighten them away. If there are no new players are learning the game there will be fewer players and the casinos will replace the blackjack tables with other games or slot machines. A trip to the casino is entertainment and should be fun for everyone. Don’t make it a bad experience by criticizing other players.
Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge stays forever."
~ Bill Burton