Debunking Vegas Myths: Bad Players Do Not Ruin the Blackjack Game

Blackjack Myth Busted: The Impact of Third Base Player on Other Players

Posted on: August 4, 2023, 08:04h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2023, 11:28h.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Vegas Myths Busted” publishes new entries every Monday, with a bonus Flashback Friday edition. Today’s entry in our ongoing series originally ran on Sept. 30, 2022.

In the game of blackjack, there is a popular misconception that the player at third base, the final player to act before the dealer, holds more control over the outcome of the game than they actually do. According to this myth, if the third base player makes a poor decision, it will always have a negative effect on the other players’ outcomes, potentially ruining the entire game.

Swingers blackjack
Having given his inexperienced friend the lousy blackjack advice to ‘always double down on 11,’ Vince Vaughan (second from left) tries to console Jon Favreau (center) after his inevitable loss in the 1996 movie “Swingers.” (Image: Youtube)

However, according to Anthony F. Lucas, a professor of casino management at UNLV and former gaming industry operations analyst, this is a common misconception among blackjack players. Lucas explains to that even if an inexperienced player makes incorrect moves, such as betting out of turn or splitting pairs of 10s, it won’t actually impact the other players’ performance unless they allow themselves to be distracted.

Lucas states that over the long term, the benefits and consequences of bad plays by other players will balance each other out, with no lasting effect on another player’s expected outcome.

So, despite the common reaction to leave a blackjack table if an inexperienced player helps the dealer win, this won’t increase anyone’s chances of winning in the future.

Lucas adds that if one were to track the outcomes of these decisions, they would see that each hand is independent. Basic blackjack strategy only considers the player’s initial two-card hand and the dealer’s up card.

According to Lucas, this alone should indicate the independence of each hand and dispel the myth.

Lucas explains that the issue is primarily psychological, stemming from a flawed human thought process known as confirmation bias. Our brains tend to interpret new evidence as confirmation of our existing beliefs. When it comes to bad plays, players tend to notice the negative consequences but dismiss any benefits as mere luck.

Nevertheless, due to the persistence of this myth, experienced players often advise newcomers to avoid playing at third base until they have mastered basic strategy.

Stay tuned for more myth-busting articles in our series “Vegas Myths Busted,” published every Monday on For previous debunked myths, click here. If you have a suggestion for a Vegas myth that needs debunking, email

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