Gamblers are a superstitious bunch and are a group of people who are always looking for an edge. That’s why there are so many ideas out there of how to increase your odds of winning. Every time someone finds a strategy, tries it and has success, they think that validates the strategy, rather than being a coincidence. Since they think the strategy works, they stick with it and tell everyone they know about it. Those other people hear about the strategy and have a testimonial that it works. Therefore, they try it themselves. If it works for them, the cycle continues. This is why betting systems and other useless strategies last forever.
Today I want to look at the blackjack table size and how it affects your odds. I have heard many people say that you want to play at a small table or a table with a lot of empty seats. Some “experts” even put a specific number on it, saying something like “don’t play at a table with more than 3 people.” The truth is, the size of the table does nothing to improve your odds.
The odds in blackjack are constant. Whenever you or anyone else (including the dealer) take a card, it has the same odds of being a 10, ace, 4 or whatever based on which cards have been played in the deck. If there was a limit to the number of cards that are dealt, then having more players could affect your odds because those players could take the cards you want. However, at a blackjack table once the cards are all dealt, a newly shuffled deck is used. Ta-dah! The cards are back!
Regardless of the number of people at the table, each card appears in the same ratio. There are 4 ten-value cards for every 13 cards and that doesn’t change no matter how many decks there are or how many people are playing at the table. Since the ratio of cards is the same, your odds of receiving certain cards are the same. For that reason, your odds are the same.
One thing that is different, though, is that the fewer people there are at the table, the faster the game will go. Fewer people means more hands played each hour. If you’re winning money, more hands is a good thing. If you’re losing, more hands is a bad thing. Since blackjack has a house edge even when you play perfect basic strategy, in the long run, playing more hands causes you to lose more money. For that reason, you could make the argument that you should pick a table with more people. That’s how I like it.
If you’re counting cards, though, you may want to play at a smaller table. While your odds are still the same, it is easier to count when there are fewer people. When counting cards, you don’t only count your own; you count every card that is dealt to every player. Therefore, for some people it would be easier with fewer people playing. On the other hand, a table with fewer people plays faster, so if you’re counting you might rather have a full table because it gives you more time to count. In addition, looking for a more talkative table, where the players are joking with each other and having fun, would be a good idea because, again, it slows down the game.
Whether you are counting cards or not, the blackjack table size does not affect your odds. Your odds of being dealt a certain card are the same and playing the correct strategy gives you the same odds of winning.