Blackjack Etiquette

If you are reading this blog, you most likely either want to learn how to play blackjack or you want to become a better player. Some of you may only want to play online blackjack, but many will eventually take their skills to a brick and mortar casino. If you do, you need to be able to sit at the table and play your game of choice without being “that guy.”

You know who I mean. That player that makes everyone roll their eyes and mutter obscenities under their breath. That guy always sits near me at football games and often finds his way to my blackjack table as well. That guy can completely ruin your experience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and have never experienced this phenomenon, then congratulations! You’re that guy.

One thing that you need to know is the hand signal for each decision. These signals were covered in an earlier blog post. The important thing to remember is that the hand signals make it clear to the “eye in the sky” what decision you made, thus minimizing any disputes.

Another thing to remember is that it’s your job to know blackjack basic strategy, not the dealer’s. Yes, the dealer knows what you should do, but why should he tell you? And why should all of the other players wait around while you get advice? Don’t bother the dealer by asking for advice. Make your own decisions based on your understanding of basic strategy.

That brings me to another thing. If you don’t have basic strategy memorized, it’s okay to bring a basic strategy chart with you. Some casinos even hand them out. However, just because you have a chart to look out doesn’t mean it’s okay to spend all day staring at it while trying to make a decision. The chart shouldn’t be consulted before every decision. You should glance at it if you need help every now and then. If your knowledge of blackjack strategy is so weak that you need to look at the chart more often than that, then you need to pick a table where you’re by yourself or practice at home.

As a common courtesy, if you are just watching other people play, give them space. Don’t look over their shoulder or crowd them. Players don’t like having people too close to them or distracting them in any other way. For the same reason, keep your talking to a minimum. A blackjack table isn’t like a barbershop, or even a poker table, where there is more chitchat. Players at a blackjack table are there to play and don’t want to be distracted.

At some blackjack tables, your cards are dealt face up, whereas at others they are dealt face down. If your cards are dealt face up, you are not allowed touch the cards. Leave them on the table and don’t touch them. If the cards are dealt face down, you are allowed to touch the cards to look at them. It is never acceptable to touch chips that are not yours or to touch other players, unless of course they’re on fire or something.

And one final thing that many novices don’t think of is tipping the dealer. It is expected that if you play at a table for long enough you should tip the dealer, especially if you’re winning. It’s understandable to not want to give the dealer extra money if he’s taking all of it from you anyway. To tip the dealer, simply place a chip above the betting circle (closer to the dealer) after your hand. Or if you want to be cool, you can place a bet on the dealer’s behalf by placing an additional bet outside your betting circle, toward the dealer.

If you listen to all of these suggestions, everyone at your table will appreciate it. Maybe you’ll even make some new friends at the table, rather than having people cursing your name after you leave. I know I like it better that way.

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