While walking down the aisle at one of the local riverboats, I paused to watch the action at a $50 table. It was early in the shoe with three players, all having tall stacks of green and black chips. What was so interesting? Every player had doubled down against the dealer’s 5 up and caught a bad, small card. The dealer turned over a 3 in the hole, hit a 4, then another 4 and finally a 6 to make a five-card 22. The players were high-fiving all over the place as I stepped up to the table to buy in. “Uhh, how ’bout holdin’ off buddy, we might have a little somethin’ goin’ here if you don’t mind,” said one of them as another muttered in agreement
If you’re not a regular blackjack player, I should explain. It’s common, in fact customary, for players to feel eerily fearful of new players entering the game once the shoe has begun. Why? Senseless superstition, that’s why! They believe the order of the cards in the shoe is “sacred” just the way it is. To change that by adding another player mid-stream would be tampering with destiny — and you never tempt the gambling gods that way.
Why do gambler’s believe this? It’s fear of the unknown amidst threatening uncertainty, the uncertainty of what fate the revised rotation of the cards might bring. Forget about the fact that while shuffling, the dealer riffled slugs of cards from every portion of the shoe with slugs from every other portion. Forget also, that the dealer “plugged” segments of the undealt cards into various locations of the played cards before shuffling. And finally, disregard the fact that the shoe was cut at a random point of choice by one of the players. Still with all that, gamblers believe that the exact way the cards sit in the shoe right now is just perfect and should not be disturbed, particularly if the players are winning. Fixating on this is not only silly, it’ll distract you from noticing things that actually matter.
Let me try to set you straight on this. Experiments have been performed at length concerning the relationship of outcomes on one hand vs. the next. It’s been determined that it’s not whether you won or lost the last hand that affects your chance to win the next one. Rather, it’s what cards were used up in the process. If high cards were consumed in the last hand, you’re more likely to lose the next one. If low cards were used up, you’re more likely to win the next one. This remains true regardless of how you happened to fare on that last hand.
As an example, let’s take that five-card 22 I described above. If the dealer had hit her four-card 16 with a 5 instead of a 6 and made 21, the players would still be more likely to win the next hand even though they would’ve just gotten crushed! Their odds to win going forward don’t have anything to do with whether the dealer made 21 or 22. They only have to do with the fact that fourteen straight little cards just came out. Any and all players at that table were now likely to make money. That’s why I wanted in!
Yes, it’s true. We’ll all get different cards than if I hadn’t come into the game. But we’ll still get cards from a shoe that just lost fourteen of its little cards — and that’s all that matters! The rest is the luck of the draw since we don’t know which card is which anyway. You’ve got to understand this and put that “don’t disturb the cards” voodoo out of your head. There are lots of things you should focus on at the blackjack table and that’s not one of them. That’s why “No Mid-Shoe Entry” signs are pure nonsense.
So how did that shoe turn out when nobody wanted me to come in? We all fared rather nicely and when I colored up to go at the end of the shoe, nobody wanted me to leave. Go figure.