When I’m at a casino with friends they can get a little frustrated when I take my time to walk the entire game floor and spend some extra effort to select which blackjack table to play. It may seem a little neurotic, but table selection can make or break your potential for a fun and profitable blackjack session. There are many factors to consider when selecting which table you’re going to join especially if you are a new blackjack player. In my younger days I’d often jump into the first open seat I saw at my desired minimum and it cost me on many occasions.
The first thing to consider when choosing your blackjack table is the minimum bet amount – the lower your entry amount typically the more people who will be playing at your tables and often times seats will be hard to come by. In my opinion if you are looking for a low limit blackjack table the key is finding a table that is having fun and a dealer who is friendly. You will rarely go wrong if you get in with a fun low limit table – especially if none of them are smoking – even if you end up losing a little money during your session at least you got a few drinks and a few laughs along the way. As you move up in table limits you want to make sure you sit with people who play a similar style as you and aren’t going to get upset by your style of play – since my style has a few wrinkles I’ve found that purists aren’t good table mates for me since they get offended whenever I even slightly stray from the book.
More technical considerations are the table configurations – these factors include:
- Blackjack payout – which can vary from 6:5 (bad) to 3:2 (good)
- Auto-shuffle machine vs. manual shuffle vs. continuous shuffle machine – I’m okay with either of the first two, but I would stay away from the continuous shuffle machine since that tends to ruin the flow of cards when you are playing Momentum Blackjack(tm)
- Single deck vs. double-deck vs. multi-deck – I’m a multi deck player, single and double-deck tables are usually open at casinos and that is for a reason, in my opinion the short deck games don’t allow you to develop a rhythm when bet sizing and give much of the advantage to the casino
- The dealer – some dealers are just plain boring and no fun to play with so win or lose you don’t enjoy the event and the opposite is also true a fun dealer can make losing a couple hundred bucks not feel so painful
- Blackjack Surrender – This is my favorite casino option and it isn’t available everywhere, but when you have the option take a table that offer it
- Mid-Shoe Entry – In Vegas I’ve found that mid-shoe entry is allowed almost everywhere, but in regional casinos you can find higher-limit tables that have no mid-shoe entry rules which are a nice touch to keep away those annoying one and done bettors who roam the floor looking to place one bet and move on
- Dealer Stays on Soft 17 – This option usually changes with the bet limit and the higher the limit the more likely you’ll find the dealer staying on soft 17 which is a nice touch since you don’t give those extra cards to the dealer when they have a 7/17
- There are some other minor elements like side wagers, a few places allow multiple Ace splits, and other variations which you’ll want to be aware of if you’re playing at an unfamiliar casino – the dealer will always be happy to assist you with the rules of any table if you ask
There are other considerations when you are selecting your seat at the blackjack table many of which are personal preferences like number of players already sitting, which seat to take from first to third base, speed of dealer, etc. My last word of advice which I’ve struggled to follow myself from time to time is that if the table just doesn’t feel right for any reason pick up your chips and walk away – you aren’t going to offend anyone and it will make your session better all the way around.
Let me know if I’ve missed any big or small decision points you consider when you choose a blackjack table.