Do other players affect your long term expectation?

By Michael Dalton

Players at Blackjack TableNo! You should ignore how other players play. Simply put, a bad player’s action will “help” you just as often as “hurt” you in this game.

There is nothing mysterious about this at all! Every serious player will eventually come to this conclusion. A fellow player who hits his stiff when the dealer shows a small up-card and causes the entire table to lose is only affecting the long term expectation of one person… himself. Yes, he is playing like an idiot. Yes, he will lose in the long run. But no, his action at the table will not affect any other player’s expectation or win-rate. Backing up this logical conclusion are millions of hands of computer simulation which irrefutably prove this fact.

So, whenever another player makes a stupid play that causes you to lose your bet smile and remember that this game would not exist if it were not for the likes of him (or her)!

Now that I have convinced you to ignore your fellow player you should be aware that there are some situations where just their “presence” can affect your game. If you count cards other players can affect your long term expectation in two specific ways.

The number one effect of “additional” players in a game is a lower win-rate. Most serious card counters like to play heads up with the dealer for this very reason. The more players in a game the slower the game. If you count cards and have a long run advantage your goal should be to play as fast as possible. The theory is the faster you play the more you can make!

“…there are some situations where just
their ‘presence’ can affect your game.”

The other effect additional players have in a game is related to single deck penetration. Single deck must be played heads up or at worst with one or two other players. If the rules are good and the table is full you can also play single deck profitably at third base. The reason you don’t want to play single deck with 4 or more players is because the dealer will typically be forced to shuffle up after only two rounds. Here are my “minimum” requirements for single deck:


6 w/great rules275%
7 w/good rules285%

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FAQ 4: Originally published in Volume 5 Issue 1 of Blackjack Review Magazine


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