Etiquette for Live Blackjack

With one of the lowest house edges found in casinos, and defined rules about the best way to play, blackjack is a great game if you want to have a good chance of winning some money. It’s also a great game for having fun, particularly in a live casino.

Online blackjack can be fun as well, and offers several advantages over playing in a real casino. It’s certainly more convenient, and the live dealer games available at many online casinos bring the experience much closer to actually playing live. There is just something about sitting at a busy blackjack table with other players that can’t be matched.

If you’re going to play live, then you should be aware of the correct etiquette. Behaving in the right way at the table will make the experience more enjoyable for you, and also for your fellow players. It will also ensure you don’t get any hassle from the casino staff. They are usually pretty relaxed about inexperienced players making honest mistakes, but they take a dim view of players who continuously make the same mistakes or annoy other players.

On this page, we provide a few tips on how to act at the blackjack table in a live casino. These include some hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t do, but for the most part, they are about the unwritten rules of how to behave.

Joining a Table

Before you join a table, make sure there is an available spot. Some players play multiple hands, so there may be available seats but no available betting circles. If there is an available spot, then take a seat and wait until the current hand finishes before buying in. If the game you are joining prohibits entry mid-deck, then you will have to wait until the next shuffle.

Buying Chips

To buy chips, you should place your money in the middle of the table and tell the dealer what denomination you require. He or she will then give you the required number of chips. It’s rare that they make mistakes, but it’s always a good idea to just check that you have the right amount.

Placing a Bet

To place a bet, you should place the relevant number of chips inside your betting circle. If you are betting a stack of chips, make sure the stack is reasonably neat. If the stack includes different chip denominations, the highest value should be at the bottom. You should not touch your chips once the dealer has dealt the cards.

Handling Your Cards

The vast majority of blackjack games are played face up. This means that all the cards are dealt exposed, and you are not allowed to touch your cards under any circumstances. If you’re playing in a face down game, you will be allowed to touch them, but you should use one hand only and always keep your cards above the table.

Making Decisions

You need to make it clear to the dealer what decision you want to make. You should state your decision audibly, or use one of the accepted hand signals. You can tap the table to indicate you want another card, or wave your hand over your cards to indicate you want to stand. If you want to split, you can point to your cards with two fingers, or simply place the required number of chips next to your initial stake.

You can also double by placing the required number of chips next to your initial stake. A dealer will usually know whether you want to double or split based on your hand. To be absolutely sure, though, it is best to state your intention verbally if you are doubling on a hand that could be split or vice versa.

Collecting Your Winnings

If you win a hand, the dealer will place the relevant chips next to your initial stake. You shouldn’t grab at these as soon as the dealer puts them down, however, but rather wait until they have settled all wagers at the table and collected all the used cards.

Using a Strategy Card

Most casinos will allow you to consult a strategy card at the table, and in fact many of them even provide strategy cards for players who want them. There is, therefore, no problem at all in using one at a table, but try not to slow the action down by doing so. You will frustrate the other players if you spend ages looking over your card every time you have a decision to make.

Strategy cards are designed in such a way that makes it easy to find the right decision, so it should only take you a few seconds to determine what to do.

Talking to Other Players

Talking with other players at a blackjack table is part of the fun for many people. It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do, but there are a few caveats. First, not everyone wants to talk. If you join a quiet table, then you shouldn’t try to force everyone to start talking if that’s not what they want to do. You can try and encourage some chat by all means, but if you don’t get much response, then it’s best just to leave it be.

You should also try not to tell other players what to do, unless they specifically ask for help, and you absolutely should not berate them if they make what you perceive to be a bad decision. It’s their money, they don’t have to stick to basic strategy rules if they don’t want to, and you have no right to criticize their play. They can’t affect your chances of winning, so just let them play the way they want.

Dealer Interaction

It’s important to respect the dealers. Much like your fellow players, some of them will be chatty and some of them less so. You can try and get some dialogue going if you want, but remember to be respectful. Just because they are an employee and you are a customer, doesn’t mean you have the right to be rude. You should certainly refrain from abusing them if they don’t deal the cards you want.

In terms of tipping the dealers, you are not obligated to do this and should not feel under any pressure to do so. It is considered good practice to tip from time to time, however, particularly if you are on a hot streak, but it’s your money and as such entirely up to you.

Playing Behind

At most blackjack tables, you have the option of playing behind another player. This is basically just gambling on another player’s hand. To do this, you place chips behind their betting circle, and you lose or win in the same way as you normally would. You have no say as to how the hand is played, though; this is up to the player.

If you want to play behind another player, it is a common courtesy to ask them beforehand. It’s unlikely they will say no, but some players feel extra pressure and prefer you not do so. If they say yes, then remember it is their hand and don’t try to influence their decisions. Don’t criticize them if they make a bad play either. If you win money from betting on their hand, it is polite to thank them.

Leaving the Table

You can leave a table any time you choose. However, if a table is running hot and everyone is winning, you might want to consider waiting until the next shuffle. Even though leaving will not affect the chances of anyone else winning or losing, a lot of players are superstitious and might get annoyed if they think you are going to break their good run. Of course, it’s entirely up to you and you are under no obligation to keep playing at all.

When you do leave, it is good practice to color up your chips if appropriate. Coloring up is exchanging your chips for a higher denomination. For example, exchange 20 $5 chips for a $100 chip. If you have a lot of low denomination chips, they may be needed at the table, and coloring up can make things easier for the dealer.