Blackjack ‘Bases’

In blackjack jargon, “first base” is the first seat to the dealer’s left where the first card is dealt.

Blackjack expert Bill Burton aptly describes why third is the hot corner: “This is because the player in the seat is the last to act before the dealer and the decisions that this player makes receive the most scrutiny.

“Many players who have learned basic blackjack 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 makes a decision that goes against basic strategy, players at the table get very upset.

“The rest of the players at the table will blame the player at third for their loss. I have seen some heated arguments, discussions, name-calling or worse occur when this happens.”

Burton, who observes:

“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 that results in a loss. However, they forget about all the times that the mistake by the third base player actually saves the table.”

My advice: Adopt a basic strategy since there are differences between playing blackjack on the internet and at the brick-and-mortar casinos.

According to several online experts, here is some advice if the blackjack dealer’s:

Upcard is 7 or higher, continue playing to 17.

Has a 6 showing and you were dealt a 9 and 3, usually stay on 12. But if you gamble and the next card is an ace, stand pat on 13.

Upcard is 2 or 3, play until 13.

Also from a consensus of experts.

Hit a soft 18 (ace and 7) when the dealer shows a 9, 10 or ace.

Hit a soft 17 when the dealer’s is not 3 to 6.

If you have 10 or ace, double down if your total exceeds the dealer’s upcard; otherwise stand.

Always split a pair of 8s or aces.

Most important, as Burton advises: “When you get ahead, you should lock up some of your winnings. One of the worst feelings is when you win money, but then keep playing until you are broke again.”