Blackjack Myth: Bad Players can hurt Your Game


Anybody who plays blackjack in a brick and mortar casino long enough is going to see their share of bad players. Whether it's somebody hitting on 15 when the dealer's upcard is 4, or doubling down with A-2, there are some truly terrible players in the game.

Those in the know simply roll their eyes at these novices and continue playing their game. But there's another breed of semi-knowledgeable players who think that these novices can really hurt their results. Sound crazy? Well maybe not so much when you consider some of the different scenarios that can arise at the table.

Common Example of Bad Play

A bad blackjack player's moves become much more noticeable when they're sitting at third base (seat to the dealer's immediate right). The reason why is because third base is the last person to act before the dealer. So in theory, it seems like their moves directly influence how the dealer's hand plays out.

For example, let's say that the dealer has an upcard of 6, and the novice third base player has a total of 14. Common blackjack strategy suggests to stay here, but for the sake of this example, assume that the player thinks they need to get closer to 21 to win. So they hit, draw a 10, and bust out.

Following this scenario, the dealer goes on to draw a 10 and a 5 to hit 21, and beat all of the other players. A couple of people at the table then get angry because if the novice had simply stayed, the dealer would've drawn two 10's and busted out.

In this individual hand, it's obvious that the bad player hurt everybody else with their lack of basic strategy knowledge. But as we'll explain next, they aren't truly hurting anybody in the long-run.

Looking at the Big Picture


Although the novice made everybody lose in the previously explained hand, they could just as easily help everybody win in another round. Using the same setup as before, where the player has 14 and the dealer's upcard is 6, let's assume the novice hits again. But this time he draws a 6 to hit 20 and improve his score.

Afterward, the dealer draws a 9 and a 10 to bust out. If the bad player hadn't made a mistake and hit on 15, the dealer would've received a 6 and a 9 to hit 21 and potentially beat everybody again.

So as you can see, terrible players both help and hurt matters in live blackjack games. And while this is little comfort in the hand where you lose because of somebody else's bad play, it's a fact that still stands. So next time you spot a poor player at your table, don't immediately get up and run away - especially if you're having a good time and on a hot streak!

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