Luck or Unlucky Seventh Seat in Blackjack

Since we seem to be on a blackjack myth kick today, why not go for another one? After all it pays to know what really impacts your blackjack odds, and what is nonsense. Nonsense, while it does not impact your odds really, can impact the quality of your blackjack game.

And why would you want to negatively impact your blackjack game? Why take fun out of it?

There is no good reason to remove fun from a game you enjoy. And believing myths that are not real does exactly that. Take for example the myth that the seventh chair at a blackjack table can make or break the dealer’s hand.

The seventh chair at a blackjack table is the seat on the dealer’s right hand. It is the last seat to receive cards and the last player to play before the dealer plays out his hand. It is because the seventh seat is the last to play that it is believed that the seventh player can impact the dealer.

Unfortunately this myth has a negative feeling behind it. If the seventh seat player takes a card and the dealer wins, the other players say the seventh took the dealer’s bust card. Or if the seventh seat does not take a card and the dealer wins, other players will accuse the seventh seat of not sacrificing his hand by taking the dealer’s winning card and allowing the other players to win.

In other words, the seventh seat myth perpetuates a sort of ‘damned if you do, damned if you do not’ feeling. Such a feeling makes playing in the seventh seat a more stressful position. And stress kills everything.

But the truth is that the seventh seat does not have such a hold over the dealer. Do you really think the house would allow a player to have the ability to make or break their dealer? No.

And what if the blackjack table is not full and no one is sitting in the seventh seat? Then what? Or what if you are the only person playing at a blackjack table—will you say it is your own fault for making or breaking the dealer? I did not think so.

Now you can see the absurdity to this blackjack myth. There is no way to tell if a face down card will make or break the dealer. What you need to know is that you cannot make or break the dealer in case you do find yourself faced with either taking the seventh seat at a blackjack table or sitting out a bunch of rounds until someone else leaves. Just sit down and do not listen if anyone tries to tell you that you took or did not take the dealer’s card.

And if another blackjack player does try to tell you that, you tell them that they took your card so what were you supposed to do?

Blackjack Strategy: Playing to 21

When new players think of blackjack, they think the objective of the game is to get their hand total up to 21. To play to 21 in other words. However this is a bit of a misconception. Sure, 21 is the magic number in blackjack but it is not the objective.

The true objective of blackjack—any blackjack game, be it blackjack online or black in a brick and mortar casino—is to beat the dealer without getting a hand total that goes over 21.

The difference between playing to 21 and beating the dealer is a little bit different. If you were playing to 21 there would be no need for a dealer’s hand. There would then be no dealer up cards, and blackjack would not be the dealer versus player game that we know it to be. If playing to 21 were the sole objective and we did not have a dealer we would be playing against other players, and then we would descend into poker. And if I wanted to play poker I would go play poker and not blackjack.

But this is blackjack and we have a dealer and we play to beat that dealer.

This means that your blackjack strategy is based on getting the best odds. The best odds in the long run mean that you will win more from the house. That means paying attention to the game and making the play that brings you the best blackjack odds. Sometimes that means doubling down or splitting pairs, or maybe not splitting pairs, or maybe standing here and there.

The whole point of a blackjack strategy is to know how to make the best play and take the most advantage of the current hand in your attempt to beat the dealer.

The best tool for this blackjack strategy is a basic strategy chart. This is why new blackjack players are first pointed in the direction of basic strategy once they learn the basic playing rules of the game.

Paying attention to your blackjack strategy and why you make a certain play using basic strategy helps to teach new players the whys of the game, and why blackjack’s objective is not playing to 21.

Blackjack Myth—Always Stand on Soft 18

I have said it before and I will say it again. Soft hands are some of the most misplayed hand in blackjack. I have seen a good number of blackjack players who, while they can handle their hard hands, do not seem to know what to do with soft hands. And a soft 18 is one of those misplayed blackjack hands.

A fair amount of blackjack players will stand on a soft 18. To them it seems like there is no other possible way to play this hand. They get caught up in the 18 part and forget about the Ace.

When facing down a dealer’s 2 or 7 standing is a decent play to make. And you are most likely going to bust when faced with a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace.

But what about when facing some of the dealer’s weaker hands, like a 3, 4, 5 or 6? Those are his weakest up cards and you do have that Ace in your hand…

The most advantageous play that you can make here is to double down. Part of your blackjack strategy is to exploit the dealer’s weaknesses. Standing is not exploiting those weaknesses. Hitting is a little better, but when faced with a 3 through 6 you really need to be doubling down.

Now, a soft 18 will lose you $18 for every $100 that you wager. This is not weak, it just is thanks to that 2, 7, 9, 10 and Ace. But by hitting and doubling down rather than just standing you can reduce that loss to $14 per $100.

The whole point of having a blackjack strategy is to take advantage and profit on the dealer’s weaknesses, and to minimalize the losses when such situations come up. Playing according to blackjack myths is not going to help you.

In the case of this myth, you might think that you are doing your blackjack strategy and your blackjack odds a favor, but the truth is that you are not. So do it, hit or double down on a soft 18 when you can.

That Two Isn’t as Bad as You Think

I’m not sure why but there seems to be this idea in blackjack that a dealer having a 2 for an up card being a bad thing. You’ve probably heard other players say things that imply fear of a 2. A 2. It’s a little card!

The one fear that is actually true when it comes to a 2 for an up card is that the dealer will be more likely to hit to 21 with it than almost any other card. Only one out of eight hands will he be able to hit to that.

But if he’s got a 5 showing, well that’s not much better, and blackjack players tend not to think a thing about a 5 showing. Well a dealer will make 21 every one out of nine hands if he has a 5 showing. That’s not much of a difference than the 2.

What blackjack players are probably fearful of in regards to that 2 is that it’s such a small card, and it leaves open a lot of possibilities to build strong hands. That’s what blackjack players are actually afraid of—that the dealer will be able to build a strong hand—stronger than theirs.

But keep this in mind: we play blackjack assuming that the hole card is worth 10. When it is revealed it may be a 10 or it may not. But we play under that assumption. And according to that assumption it means that the dealer has a hard 12—a stiff hand.

In all actuality when the dealer has a 2 through 8 the blackjack player is the favorite to win. The odds in are your favor then! Notice that the 2 as an up card is in that list. It’s when the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace showing that the odds are against you. But then go back to assuming that the hole card is a 10 and what do you have? You have 19, 20 or 21.

So keep in mind when you sit down to play some blackjack online or not that an up card of 2 is nothing to fear. But watch out for those 9s, 10s and Aces.