Blackjack Table Etiquette

Live Blackjack is a social game, which involves a good deal of interaction between the players and the dealer. Like all social activities, it has developed a set of proper behaviors aimed at preventing cheating and avoiding any conflicts or misunderstandings. Before sitting down to play for the first time, it is a good idea to be mindful of Blackjack etiquette. Adherence to the following established customs of play is the best way to avoid any unpleasant incidences at the table.

1. Getting Seated

Ask if you can join the table before sitting down. Just because a seat looks open does not mean it is available. Some players play multiple hands. Others may be holding seats for friends. Also, some rules prohibit entry mid-deck, and you may be asked to wait until after the shuffle to begin play.

2. Buying In

If you do not bring chips to the table from another game or purchased from a cashier, you can convert cash to chips at the table between deals. Again, it is a good idea to ask if you can buy in, be alert to any posted table minimum, and place your currency on the table toward the dealer and beyond the area where bets are placed. The dealer will spread the bills out for the security camera to see, announce the amount being purchased, and prepare your chips, typically colored White for $1, Red for $5, Green for $25, and Black for $100.  Confirm that the total is correct and stack your chips in plain sight on the table in front of you.

3. Game Preparation

Most casinos have the dealer ask a player to cut the cards after shuffle. You will be given an unmarked plastic card to insert in the middle of the deck, at least one full deck from either end in a multi-deck game. After the cut, the dealer may “burn’” one or more top cards before dealing.

4. Placing a Bet

Any chips you wish to wager should be placed neatly in a stack in the middle of the betting circle immediately in front of your seat, with the largest denomination on the bottom and the smallest on the top. Once the dealing begins, you should not touch the wagered chips for any reason until the round has ended and all bets have been settled.

5. Card Handling

When Blackjack is dealt face up, you are not allowed to touch the cards. In face-down games, you may use just one hand to touch your cards. Do not bend the cards, and always keep them above the surface of the table.

6. Hand Signals

Any actions to be taken during play must be signaled with unambiguous gestures for the surveillance cameras to see. Examples in a face-up game are pointing to your hand to draw a card, waving off the dealer to stand, drawing a line with a forefinger behind the betting circle to surrender, and pointing to a pair with two fingers to split them. In a face down game, you can lightly scratch the table with the cards to draw, place the cards under your chips to stand, or arrange one on each side of the betting circle to split.

To double down, push a stack of chips equal to the original wager (or less) into the betting circle and hold up your index finger to signal “One card.” Never try to stack additional chips on top of your original bet. The dealer will count and arrange the chips before dealing the card, which you should not touch. If you want the card dealt face up, indicate so with a gesture and say “Up please.”

7. Tipping

To tip the dealer directly between hands, you can push a chip or two into the center of the table away from the betting circle, point to the dealer and say “For the dealer.” You can also tip by placing a wager for the dealer at the top edge of your betting circle closest to him/her. If you split a hand, you will need to double the wagered tip, too, but if you double down, you can choose to either double the tip or leave it as is.

8. Collecting Winnings

After all wagers have been settled and used cards removed by the dealer, you can pull in your winning. Any chips left in the betting circle will be considered a new wager, so it is a good habit to remove them, even on a push.