Casino Etiquette – Blackjack and other table games

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As an experienced casino player I’m often asked (by new players) about general land-based (i.e. not online) casino etiquette – the do’s and dont’s of what to do in a casino. Each game has its own individual rules to follow, but in general terms, the following rules apply to ALL table games played (slots have far fewer requirements):

1) Never hand your money directly to the dealer. Always put your cash down on the surface of the table, so that the security cameras can see the values etc.

2) Never touch your chips once a game is in progress. You should not touch your chips from the initial placement until the game decision (win or loss) has been made, and the payout made accordingly. A casino may think you are trying to cheat / add to your beat if you touch the chips during play.

3) When you stack your chips up, put the highest denomination chips at the bottom of the stack, and the lowest denomination ones at the top. This is for the benefit of the dealer and the cameras.

4) Ask a dealer for advice if you want to. Their advice may be good or bad. Likewise you can ask other players for advice if you want to. It’s your choice.

5) Don’t offer other players your advice UNLESS THEY ASK FOR IT. Many players will get upset quickly if you try to tell them how to play their hands / spins.

6) Always give a hand signal for your decision. If you’re playing blackjack for example and want a card, tap the table. For no card, wave it away. Cameras can pick up hand signals, but not verbal “yes” or “no” discussions – so if there is ever a dispute, a clear hand signal will help to determine whether or not the dealer followed the players intended play correctly or not.

7) Ensure all of your bets are placed in time. On Blackjack, place all bets before the dealer signals “no more bets”. For roulette, place all bets before the dealer says “no more bets” or rings the bell – it’s often wise to place all bets BEFORE the dealer begins spinning the ball, so that you don’t run out of time part way through.

8) If you are playing a card game like blackjack or baccarat, do NOT touch the cards (unless you are playing single deck blackjack or similar and the cards are dealt directly to you, rather than face up on the table). If you DO touch the cards, then ensure they stay ON the table at all times (in view of cameras), and DO NOT bend the corners. That kind of playing may get you removed / banned from the casino. In games like roulette, NEVER attempt to touch the ball / spinning wheel.

9) Unless you know how to card count in blackjack etc, follow basic strategy. That’s the most mathematically correct way to play every possible hand. For a beginner, you’ll give yourself the best chance to win / break even, using this formula.

10) Avoid Continuous Shuffler Machine games. They play about 20% more hands per hour than a hand shuffled game – so you’ll lose 20% faster than on other tables (on average – or win 20% faster if you’re having a run of exceptionally good luck).

11) In many countries you cannot tip the dealers – so check first. In some countries you can’t enter a blackjack game mid-shoe – so check first. If you are able / going to tip a dealer, don’t be too tight: if you’re playing $5 a hand, then a good tip is probably about $5 per hour. But if you’re playing $100 a hand, then your tip should be more (say $20+). Never tip when you’re losing… unless you want your money to run out even faster. And never tip if you get bad dealer service.

I hope you find these basic etiquette tips useful!

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4 Comments on Casino Etiquette – Blackjack and other table games

  1. Never tip when you’re losing…

    What kind of a jerk are you? 😀
    I always tip if the dealer is pleasant I don’t care if i’m up or down. A good dealer deserves a tip!

  2. Casino Barred // December 21, 2007 at 9:43 pm //

    Hi Luts, thanks for the feedback.

    I did say “Never tip when you’re losing… unless you want your money to run out even faster”.

    I tend not to tip (much) when I’m losing – unless the dealer is particularly friendly. But that’s a personal choice. I’m there to “beat the casinos”, and every dollar counts – especially when things are looking down, down, down… I’m happy to flick a few dollars at tips in that situation, but not regular “$10 bets for the dealer” type tips common when I’m on a winning streak.

    It’s harder to tip when your losing – my mind tells me I’m already paying for the service. That might be the wrong attitude but it’s how I tend to feel.

    I realise the dealer has no control over the cards I get. But I do realise that good service shouldn’t go unrewarded either ideally. Maybe I’ll need to revise my own thoughts on the matter.

    I do more than make up for things with good tips for dealers when I win though. Everyone’s happy then!

    By all means, you should tip as much as you feel appropriate at any time.

    Hopefully if I am a jerk it’s of the best kind – and with the best overall intentions. 🙂

    Thanks for the feedback!

  3. What is the highest bankroll you have ever used. What is the highest win for ONE night. And what is the largest loss?

  4. Casino Barred // August 16, 2008 at 10:39 pm //

    Hi there,

    Highest bankroll I’ve used is 30K.

    Highest win in one evening: 60K
    Highest loss in one evening: 20K

    In both cases I use a stop-win / stop-loss system for money management.

    Yes, having skill helps when playing – but there is clearly still an element of luck that’s very important every time we sit down at a blackjack table.

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