Table Etiquette for Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most common casino table games. With so many people playing, it can lead to cramped tables and long wait times. Even without a heavily packed game, other players will expect a certain level of appropriate etiquette from each other.

Learn the Basics

Blackjack GameLearn what these basic etiquette procedures are in this article. Following these rules will keep you on the good side of the dealer and other players. While this is not an exclusive list, using manners and common sense should help you in most situations not covered here. These will cover general guidelines from the time you decide to sit down at a table to the time you leave.

Basic Rules

Sitting at a Table

Before sitting in an open seat, make sure the spot is actually available. Many players will play more than one hand. Though the chair might not be taken, the betting position at the table might be.

Each blackjack table should have a sign posted with the minimum and maximum bet amounts listed. Make sure these are the betting values you wish to play before sitting at the table.

Knowing the rules of the game seems like a no-brainer. There are several variations of blackjack with varying rules of gameplay. Make sure you know the rules of the particular game variation you are wanting to play. There should be information explaining the rules available at the table if you are unsure. Playing online prior to playing an in-person blackjack game can be helpful.

Buying In

Once you’ve found a seat at a blackjack table, you will most likely need to buy chips to play with. Here are some etiquette procedures to follow when doing this:

Have your money out and ready to go. The other players at the table don’t want to have to wait for you to fumble through your wallet to find your money. Their gameplay will be paused waiting for you to buy in. Try to make this a streamlined process.

Wait for the current hand to finish before trying to buy in. You are not allowed to buy in until after the hand anyway. Wait until the dealer is done with all the payouts from the current hand before placing your money on the table for your buy-in.

If you want a specific denomination for your chips, let the dealer know before they place your chips out. This will avoid the dealer needing to count your chips out twice. It will save a lot of time to have the chips given to you the way you’d like the first time.

Gameplay

When making your wager for a new hand, place your chips in the correct location. You should also stack them nicely, with the largest denominations on the bottom. This will save the dealer from having to stack and place your chips properly for you.

You should also place your bet in a timely manner. Keep in mind that you are usually not the only person at the table. Since the dealer won’t deal the cards until everyone is ready, the other players will be waiting on you. You should have plenty of time to have your bet ready by the time the prior hand is finished.

Don’t ever touch your cards! This will get you a snappy talking to if done repeatedly. There is no reason to ever touch your cards and it is strictly against the rules. This is true for the majority of blackjack games. Some games are dealt with the players cards face down. If playing this game, you are allowed to touch your cards. However, in this situation, you are only allowed to use one hand to look at your cards.

There are only specific times when it is ok to touch your chips currently in play. Once all chips have been placed, the dealer will begin to deal the cards. At this point, you are no longer able to touch those chips. If you need to place more chips out, for a double down or split hand, those are placed in a different stack next to the original wager. You will not touch any of the chips in play until after the dealer has finished the payouts.

Leaving the Table

Before leaving the table, you should exchange your chips for large denominations. This is called coloring up your chips. Not only does this make it easier for you to carry them from the table, but also leaves the smaller denominations at the table when new players buy in.

Just like buying into the table, cashing out should be done in between hands. Let the dealer concentrate on the current hand and payouts before you try to cash out. If you don’t have any chips to color up, you are free to leave whenever you want.

If you are leaving because you lost at the table, it is never appropriate to storm away. Blackjack does have an element of skill but is still a luck game. This is especially true in the short term. Yelling and throwing fits is unacceptable. It is no one’s fault that you lost.

Other Considerations

Tipping is standard at the blackjack table. Though not required for play, tipping your dealer is a common courtesy. You are not expected to hand over money when you’re already losing. However, if you are winning, dealt a high bonus hand, a blackjack, or multiple winning hands, you should be tipping your dealer. This is the same principal for the wait staff if you are getting drinks or food.

There are few things more annoying at the table than an excessively drunk person. Not only does obnoxious behavior usually come along with that scenario, but the gameplay is slowed down also. As we’ve already covered, being slow is a surefire way to irritate the other players. Keep your drinking within an acceptable range and you can avoid these problems.

Smoking is usually accepted within casinos. Though perfectly within your right to do so, smoking at the blackjack table can be frustrating for other players. Try to limit how often you are smoking. You should also be aware of where your smoke is going. This way you can avoid making another player or the dealer breathe an excessive amount of your smoke.

Hand Signals

Face Up Games

Hit: Tap on the table, next to your cards. Remember not to touch your cards.

Stand: Wave your hand, while holding it horizontally over your cards.

Double Down: Holding one finger up is the traditional hand signal for a double down. I rarely see people use this. Rather, they will simply say “I want to double down” and place a second stack of chips next to their original wager.

Split: Similar to the double down hand signal, I rarely see this one used. The hand signal for splitting cards is to make a “V” on the table with your middle and index finger. Much more often, you will notice that players will simply say “I want to split these” while placing a second stack of chips near the first wager.

Surrender: There is no official hand signal for surrendering. Many people will draw a line between their hand and the dealer’s hand with their index finger. This is a fairly well-known signal for surrendering your hand. Your best bet is to simply state that you’d like to surrender your hand to your dealer.

Face Down

If playing a blackjack game where your cards are dealt face down, there are a few differences in hand signals. The signals for double down, split, and surrender will all remain the same. The following are the differences:

Hit: Lightly moving your cards back and forth on the table felt is a generally accepted hand signal to hit on a face-down table. These tables will typically accept the hand signals used on a face-up table as well.

Stand: If playing a face-down game, you can slide your cards beneath your wagered chips to signal that you would like to stand. Do not touch your chips and keep your cards face down. Placing them face up gives the appearance of a bust.

Bust: Since the dealer will not know what card values you’re holding, they will not be aware if your hand results in a bust. In order to show that you busted on a hand, you will flip your cards face up and place them next to your chip wager.

Other Players

You may be an expert level blackjack player, with a ton of related knowledge. However, unless another player asks, you should never tell them how they should be playing the game. They are wagering their own money and can choose to play it however they want.

Many tables will allow a wager called back betting. This is when a person is betting on another players hand. They will not be dealt their own cards, but rather, will be a betting extension of another player. Whatever result that’s player has is the same result you will have. This can make some players feel pressured. If you are going to back bet on someone, it is common courtesy to ask their permission first.

Conclusion

If you follow the etiquette rules we’ve mentioned, you should be able to stay on the good side of the other players and your dealer. This is going to make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Keep in mind that you should always voice your intentions in addition to using the hand signals. This is especially true while still learning the proper hand signals. This will ensure the dealer knows your intentions. The most important points to remember are to not hold up gameplay and to ask your dealer if you’re ever unsure about your game.