There are generally a relatively large proportion of blackjack tables available to you, at any casino. There’s a deal of superstition in choosing the “right” blackjack table that will increase your odds of winning. It goes without saying setis parabis (all things being equal), there is no statistical difference. But there are a couple of things to look for before sitting down.
Blackjack Table Limits
Most importantly, find a table that offers limits you’re comfortable with. A placard at each table (usually to the dealer’s right) announces minimum and maximum wagers at that table.
Generally, table minimums are set at $5, $10, $25, and $100 limits, with the maximum being 1,000 times the minimum. In small operations during the off-season, you can find a table where you can play for less, and most casinos reserve a high-limit section for players who are willing to wager anywhere from $500 to $10,000 per hand.
A player should select a table at which he can afford to play, which should be an obvious choice if you know how much you intend to wager on each hand. If you need guidance in that decision: divide the amount you’re willing to wager in an entire session and divide it by twenty—this should be your wager on each hand. Buying in at 20 times your wager will provide ample padding if you have a moderate run of losing hands.
A more experienced player, especially one who intends to vary his wagers (whether by counting cards or using a wagering system), will need to consider the reasonable limits of his system or technique. For example, a card counter may select a table where the limits are below his average wager so that he can reduce his bets when the deck is against him.
Blackjack Table Rules
Not all tables, even in the same casino, play by the same rules. There may be a blend of hand-dealt and shoe-dealt games, and each has their own set of rules. It’s even been witnessed that casinos may apply different rules at tables of different limits to increase their profits from the high rollers or encourage the low rollers to move to a higher-denomination table in search of a fair game.
It’s especially important to note the number of decks and whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, as this will affect which strategy chart should be used. If you have a multiple-deck strategy memorised, your outcome will be worse at a single-deck game, and vice versa. The same goes for hitting/standing on soft 17. Simply put, you should not sit at a table unless you’re certain you know how to play.
Finally, select the table where the rules are most advantageous to the player—where surrender, doubling on any two cards and doubling after the split is allowed. If there are additional perks, like doubling or surrendering late, hitting split aces, and so on, all the better.
All other criteria considered, it may be worthwhile to observe the players at a few different tables before deciding which to join. There are various superstitions about the effect that blackjack players, as a group, can have on each player’s odds—for better or for worse. None of them holds true. Primarily, you should assess the group of people at any given table for a social perspective—are these the kind of people you want to be surrounded with for a few hours?
Primarily, you should avoid distractions. While you don’t necessarily need to seek the company of Stoics, excessively boisterous or intrusive players can make it difficult to maintain your concentration, causing you to lose the count or make mistakes in playing or wagering strategies.
It’s also worthwhile to observe the blackjack dealer. A beginning player would do well to find a dealer who deals at a moderate pace, calls out the totals of players’ hands as the cards are dealt, and (if he’s allowed by the house) is willing to give players tips, or at least hints, in difficult situations.
Since dealers work in 30-minute shifts, and since some houses rotate dealers among the various tables, the dealer you’ve chosen will leave the table before long, and may not return to it. You should not, under any circumstances, follow a dealer from table to table. The most effective forms of casino cheating involve collusion between a dealer and a player, and a player who seeks out a specific dealer will inevitably bring suspicion on them both.
Best Seat At A Blackjack Table
Sitting in one seat or another will affect the outcome of the game. A novice player would do well to avoid third base, the last seat on the left. A common superstition is that the player in this position can influence the outcome of the game for everyone else. If the third-base player takes a hit where basic strategy indicates he should have stood or stands when he should have hit, he’s “cursed” the table especially when the card he took (or failed to take) would have busted the dealer’s hand. While this has no basis in fact, it seems to be a widely-held belief, and a novice who already feels awkward in this situation will feel all the worse for the glares he’ll get from the other players.
All of the above also applies to online blackjack. It’s superstition afterall.