One of the most frustrating myths in blackjack is the idea that one player can hurt another player’s odds. You see this all the time online and in person – someone bitching about the stupid play that someone else made, causing the “expert” to lose his hand.
This is a completely false and damaging myth. The actions of other players do not change the math of the game in any discernible form. The origins of this myth come from the way we process hindsight information.
For example, let’s say someone makes a strategically incorrect hit and receives a high card that would have busted the dealer. You see this and think “Damn! If he didn’t hit, the dealer would have busted. What an idiot!”
It may have been a bad play for that other player, but other players do not affect the odds for you. The odds of the game remain the same no matter who is playing or how they are playing. It is just as likely that a stupid play will result in a lucky win for the entire table.
Again: it is just as likely that a stupid play will result in a lucky win for the entire table. A face-down deck of cards is completely random. Nothing you do can change that randomness. It doesn’t matter if the stupidest player in the world is sitting at third base or if the smartest player in the world occupies that seat: you will still see the same exact win-rate over the long run based on your own play.
The reason I hate this myth so much is because it causes needless nastiness at the table. Instead of everyone playing a good game of blackjack and having fun, people get angry, bitch at each other and turn new players off to the game.
If you don’t believe me, you can Google this for yourself. Blackjack experts around the world agree that poor players do not hurt the game or result in a lower win-rate for everyone else.
And that leads me to the next reason I dislike this myth so much. Even when you explain this concept to an angry blackjack player, he will refuse to believe you. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do to convince someone that math does, in fact, rule the game. There are few things in this world as annoying as a self-proclaimed expert who is both wrong and belligerent.
The next time you see a player make a stupid move, please resist berating that player. The odds are that he’s just there to gamble and have a little fun. Is that really such a crime in a casino?
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