Table Manners for Blackjack: Cards and Touching

Yes, blackjack has table manners. It is played at a table after all. Actually that is a more relaxed term for blackjack etiquette, and the things that make up blackjack etiquette are kind of like the unwritten rules for blackjack.

Fist off we are going to talk about the cards and touching.

In a face up game the cards are obviously dealt face up on the table by the dealer. He will then quickly calculate the totals. Player then make hand signals to show what play they would like to make: a two finger scratch on the felt for a hit; a palm-down wave over the cards to stand; doubling your amount of chips to signal a double down or a split depending on what cards you have. Hand signals are a part of blackjack etiquette and a tradition of the game. Oh, and they also can back you up if there is some discrepancy on what play you wanted to make since there is a camera above the table.

But above all in a face up blackjack game do NOT touch the cards.

Not touching cards in a face up game prevents players from cheating or marking the cards.

The only type of blackjack game in which you can touch the cards is a face down game. The dealer deals the cards face down and the player picks them up with one hand. Signals in a face down game are a bit different: to hit scrap the cards towards you on the felt to hit; to stand scoot your cards under your wagered chips; to double down or split, turn the cards face up and add the appropriate amount of chips to your wager.

Do NOT use more than one hand to handle your cards.

Handling the cards with one hand helps to cut down on switching or adding cards or marking them for cheating purposes.

You have the etiquette for how to handle your cards down now, and are all set to grab your clip-on tie and head to your favorite casino.

For a Good Blackjack Experience Do Not…

While anyone could learn the game of blackjack, it doesn’t mean that they’re good to go at the tables. The rules are easy enough to learn—add up your card total, hit to raise your total, stand to keep what you’ve been dealt. But there are some other aspects of blackjack that novice players—and even some who have been playing for years—need to be aware of and follow.

I’m talking about blackjack etiquette.

While these aren’t actual rules of the game, they are certain behaviors that are applied when sitting down at the blackjack table. Think of them as unofficial rules.

For starters, if you are playing in a face up game, meaning the cards are dealt face up on the table, do not touch them. A face up game generally happens for games with four or more decks. There are two reasons for this. First, the dealer can better manage the cards by calling out hand totals and moving the game along. The other reason is security. By not allowing players to touch the cards it prevents cards from being marked or tampered with, and from card switching.

On the other hand, if you’re playing blackjack at a table with only one or two decks players are allowed to touch the cards. But you may only touch them with one hand. Two hands aren’t allowed for the same reasons that players can’t touch their cards in a face up game—to prevent marking and switching.

To also go along with using only one hand to handle your cards in a face down game, always keep your cards on the table. Never remove them from the table or hold them in your lap. This is also to prevent cheating and for security—your cards must stay in view of the dealer and the security cameras.

Regardless of which type of blackjack game you’re playing you must always use hand signals to let the dealer know what play you want to make. In a face up game to hit you tap the table, and to stand you wave your hands over your cards in a ‘no, thank you’ gesture. In a face down game to hit you scrape your cards on the table towards yourself, and to stand you slide them face down under your chips. Do not say ‘hit’ or ‘stand.’ The security cameras can’t record what was said, so hand signals are a must in case there is a dispute.

Following blackjack etiquette will help to have a more enjoyable game. You won’t irritate the other players by not following etiquette. And you will not have to suffer through the dealer explaining how to play as if you were completely new to the game.

21 Things to Avoid When Playing Blackjack—Part I

Recently I came across some blackjack tips that can help to not only improve your game, but to also make the gaming experience more enjoyable. Some of these tips can be applied to both land based casinos and online casinos; others might only apply to land based.

Take the wisdom from this, blackjack players.

  1. Don’t play with your chips once the cards are dealt. If you do, the dealer and casino staff might think that you’re padding your bet. Besides, it makes you look like you’re nervous, like you’re not sure how to play or that you’re trying to be sneaky. Or the dealer could think you were dealt an awesome hand, and are trying to increase your bet on the sly. Best bet—fingers off the chips.
  2. Cash is not to connect your hand with the dealer’s. In other words, don’t hand money to the dealer directly. You can lay it out on the table outside of your betting space, then tell the dealer what denomination you want your chips in. This is to protect both you and the dealer so that the transaction is caught by a camera. If there are questions later as to how a cash-to-chips exchange happened, the casino can review the video.
  3. Do NOT tell the dealer that you want a ‘hit.’ For one thing, the casino cameras need to see what play you are making—they can’t pick up what you say. Hand gestures are readable on the video. And second, your meaning might be misconstrued to mean something else.
  4. Face up cards are not for touching. In games with four or more decks in play, the cards are dealt face up. Since face up cards can’t be touched, sneaky players can’t add or remove cards. This protects you from cheaters. A “hands free” game will also speed up the game, allowing for you to play more.
  5. No setting things on the table. Ladies, this includes you and your purses. Purses belong on your lap. Leave your wallets and such in your pockets. If you have bags that are not purses, place them next to you or by your feet. You can have a drink on the table in the drink holders, but nothing else. This protects your property from being out in the open where someone could take it. It also keeps cheaters from using non-necessary objects on the table to help them cheat. And, it helps to keep the table from being damaged by drinks not being where they’re supposed to be.
  6. No holding the cards with both hands. They aren’t that big or that heavy. You don’t need to use both hands. This is just etiquette—one hand please.
  7. Cards do not belong in your lap. Keep them on the table or in one hand where the dealer can see them. Cards must remain in full view of the dealer. This prevents you from being accused of cheating.

Start working with these while out and about in the casinos this holiday season.

And keep an eye open for “21 Things to Avoid When Playing Blackjack—Part II