Blackjack is one of the most recognizable and venerated casino games in the world. Walk into almost any casino, and you will find at least one Blackjack table; log into any legitimate gambling site and you’ll likely find dozens of variants.
Writers often use it as shorthand to show the glamour and intrigue of the gambling lifestyle. Films such as “21” and “Rain Man” showcase the game’s strategic element, while episodes of popular television shows like Breaking Bad and The Simpsons helped cement its place in our collective consciousness. It seems like everyone, from your dentist to your grandmother, knows this game!
But when it comes to proper etiquette at the blackjack table, most players get a little lost. It’s likely that you might be unknowingly making mistakes that could negatively impact your game or irritate your dealer. Read on to find out the 12 things you should never do at a blackjack table.
Blackjack Etiquette: What I Learned as a Former Vegas Dealer
When I walked into my first casino as a bright-eyed twenty-something, I was fascinated by the Blackjack pit. Although I had never even shuffled a deck of cards, I felt a familiarity with this game.
Blackjack wasn’t intimidating like Craps or Roulette; the relative simplicity makes it approachable for even the most clueless of players and wanna-be dealers.
Most dealers learn their trade through formal schooling (such as attending specialized dealer schools) or in-house training provided by the casino itself.
Both methods are heavily augmented by observation and apprenticeship, where the novice shadows experienced dealers in role-playing and real-life situations.
There Are Unwritten Casino Rules to Follow
When I was a new dealer, I briefly attended dealing school and then honed my casino acumen under some of the city’s oldest and most grizzled floor managers. This combination of formal and informal training quickly taught me the written and unwritten rules of the casino.
Casinos are bound by both explicit and implicit codes of conduct. Breach any of those rules and you may find yourself being strongly reprimanded by the Pit Boss or removed from the casino entirely.
I’ve told you how most dealers learn the etiquette of the casino. But how on this earth are the players supposed to learn?! As a dealer, I saw every possible transgression of casino etiquette.
Some of the most common faux pas are on the “unwritten” side, while others demonstrate a basic ignorance of the game. Knowing how to behave at the tables makes for a smoother and more enjoyable experience for everyone.
12 Things to Never Do at the Blackjack Table: Etiquette Tips
Truly knowledge is power! So in no particular order, here are 12 things you should never do at a blackjack table, as per a former Las Vegas dealer.
1 – Don’t Hand Money Directly to the Dealer
Never hand money directly to the dealer. All cash transactions and the dealers hands must be visible to the cameras at all times.
To change your cash for chips, simply place your cash on the open layout (outside of any betting spots) and tell the dealer which denomination chips you’d like.
This is the same process whether it’s your initial approach to a table or if you’re already seated and need additional chips.
2 – Don’t Touch Your Bet
After you place your bet, refrain from touching it again until the hand is over. As soon as the dealer begins dealing the first card, players cannot touch or alter their bet in any way.
Your original bet must remain untouched on the betting circle until it wins, losses or pushes.
Some people will try to perfectly straighten their chips after placing them; if there’s an issue with bet placement, alert the dealer, and they’ll fix it for you.
3 – Don’t Touch Your Cards
Never touch the cards if they are dealt face up! Most multi deck variants are dealt face up to speed game play and assist with game security.
This eliminates many potential cheating methods (such as marking or switching the cards) and makes it easier for the cameras to clearly capture the action on the table. There is no reason to touch the cards in a face up game, so don’t do it.
In games where the cards are dealt face down (usually single- and double-deck or pitch games), pick up the cards with one hand, not two. You should hold the cards with only one hand and never remove the cards from the table!
4 – Don’t Use Electronic Devices
Using electronic devices at the table is typically discouraged and even prohibited depending on the casino. Using a smartphone, tablet or other small devices is one of the most common ways players try to gain an advantage.
There are hundreds of ways to cheat using various devices and casinos are hyper vigilant to stay on top of all of them. Don’t give security a reason to suspect that you may be taking photos of the dealer’s hole card or texting an accomplice; keep your smartphone tucked away.
It’s also generally considered rude to slow down play and may disturb other players if you’re using your smartphone to text or browse social media. If you must make a text or call, simply excuse yourself from the table between rounds or hands.
5 – Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice
Blackjack isn’t a team sport, so keep your opinions and advice to yourself! Every player pays to play their own hand, so let them play it how they choose to.
Don’t be rude, critical or dismissive of other players’ choices, habits or gaming rituals. No matter what you think of another player’s strategy you should keep your mouth shut.
If someone wants advice on how to play their hand, they’ll ask the dealer or the other players, but until they ask, you’re better off minding your own business.
Following this rule helps prevent disruptions and conflicts that can arise from misunderstandings or disagreements about actions, bets, or conduct. If the way someone plays the game is truly frustrating to you, get up and move to another table.
6 – Don’t Take It Personally
Blackjack is a game of chance. Bad beats happen and becoming belligerent won’t magically change your hand! Don’t blame other players for your losses and nevertake your frustrations out on the dealer.
Remember to use basic courtesies such as “please” and “thank you” toward the cocktail servers and other staff.
Keeping your emotions in check demonstrates personal responsibility and accountability as well as respect for the dealer, other players and the game itself.
7 – Don’t Ignore Basic Strategy
Never play blackjack without understanding and applying basic blackjack strategy. While the House Advantage will vary depending on the exact game, it can be as low as sub 0.5% with favorable conditions and optimal play. (The generally accepted House Edge on Blackjack is 0.5 – 4%).
Ignoring optimal play based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard significantly increases the casino’s advantage. Remember that the “best decisions” for the player are the ones that lose the least amount of money to the casino over time.
Study and adhere to a basic strategy chart to make those “best” decisions every time. Players can buy a strategy card at the casino gift shop and can use this card while playing on a blackjack table.
8 – Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Never let emotions dictate your gameplay. Gambling should be approached with a calm and rational mindset. Blackjack is meant to be fun! Outbursts of anger and frustration disrupt and disrespect the game.
It’s important to know when to walk away. Avoid chasing losses as this can lead to impulsive betting and, ultimately, more significant losses.
9 – Don’t Neglect Bankroll Management
Never disregard proper bankroll management. Avoid wagering more than you can afford to lose in a single session. Set clear limits on how much you’re willing to bet and stick to them.
Responsible gambling is crucial for long-term enjoyment and financial well-being.
10 – Don’t Forget About Basic Hygiene
Good hygiene practices are not only essential for guest and employee safety but also for the reputation of the casino. Make sure you wash your hands after playing on a casino table.
The cards, chips, and table are filthy! Tables are close quarters, so if you’re not feeling well, please stay home.
Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze. Even better, either sneeze/cough into the crook of your arm or briefly stand up and leave the table. Dispose of tissues in a proper receptacle, and don’t leave any trash on the table.
11 – Don’t Be A Table Bully
Remember your casino etiquette; when you sit down on a Blackjack table, ask if it is okay if you jump in. Sometimes a good run turns sour if someone jumps into a game, leading players to blame and shame them.
It’s courteous to go along with the group consensus to maintain a fun and harmonious gaming environment. Often the most polite move is to simply wait until the dealer starts a fresh shoe.
12 – Don’t Fall For Surefire Scams
There’s no such thing as a guaranteed win – that’s why it’s called “gambling”! Blackjack is fundamentally a mix of skill and luck and there will always be a level of uncertainty involved.
Don’t lend a player money who has a “surefire strategy” that wins every time. If their strategy is always a winner, then why are they asking you for money?
You will see these fleas buzzing from one table to the next looking for any willing participant.
Enjoy a Better Blackjack Experience With These Expert Tips!
Blackjack is a classic casino game loved by many, but nailing the etiquette can be a game-changer. A little preparation before hitting the tables can save everyone potential embarrassment.
From cash-handling finesse to avoiding unwanted advice and keeping your hands off the cards, it’s all about a smooth game vibe. Toss in a dash of basic strategy and responsible bankroll mojo, and you’re in for a winning combo. Here’s to a top-notch Blackjack adventure with a side of class!