Posts Tagged ‘hand signals’

Blackjack Etiquette

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

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.

Blackjack Hand Signals

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Some of you play your blackjack online and never intend to take your skills to a casino, but I recommend that everyone, at least once in your life, visit a casino and play the game there. No matter how great the online casino is, no website can recreate the experience of playing blackjack inside a brick and mortar casino. If you do visit a land-based casino, though, there are some things you need to know. One of the most important things that is present in brick and mortar casinos but not online is the use of hand signals.

When playing blackjack in casinos, hand signals are required to protect the integrity of the game. The “eye in the sky” (those cameras above the casino floor that watch everything) capture your every move on the floor, including at the blackjack table.

By observing hand signals, security can tell every decision that you made when playing blackjack. This is important for several reasons. First of all, a dispute may arise between you and the dealer about whether you said to hit or stand. If there were no hand signals, in theory a player could ask to hit, bust, and then complain that he told the dealer to stand. Without video evidence of the hand signal, it’s the player’s word against the dealer. The hand signal protects against a dishonest or mistaken player as well as a dishonest or mistaken dealer. If you give the hand signal to stand and the dealer mistakenly gives you a card, causing you to bust, you can appeal and the eye in the sky can save you. In addition, the eye in the sky can also be used to catch card counters and players and dealers engaging in collusion.

Here are the hand signals you need to know when playing blackjack in a casino:

If you want to hit, there are two possible hand signals. If you are holding your cards, you scrape the cards against the table. If the cards are sitting face-up on the table, you should either touch a finger to the table or wave your hand toward yourself.

To stand, slide the cards under your bet if you are holding the cards. If the cards are sitting face-up on the table, indicate that you want to stand by waving your hand horizontally.

If you want to double down on your bet, place additional chips (equal to your original bet) next to your original bet but still within the betting box. Do not put the chips on top of the original bet.

If you want to split a pair, place additional chips next to the original bet but outside the betting box.

There is no signal for a surrender, so if the casino allows surrender and you want to do it, simply verbalize it. Likewise there is no signal for accepting insurance. These are the only decisions you can make that do not have an accompanied hand signal.