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Blackjack: Tipping the Dealer and Other Rules of Etiquette

Playing blackjack in a casino is a very different experience to playing it online at home or one-the-go. Not just because the game mechanics are fundamentally different (playing real cards vs a random number generator) but because there is a whole social element to blackjack at a casino that comes just from joining other players at a table. Not as obviously social as roulette or craps, where part of the fun is joining in with other players, but still. 

Whether you’re chatting freely with the dealer and the other players or keeping mostly to yourself, there are certain rules of etiquette that should be followed when playing any game of blackjack in a casino.

 

Tipping Your Dealer

Starting with the most complicated first, the question of whether you should tip the dealer when you’re finished playing and about to move away from the table is mostly straightforward, but there is some gray area involved in knowing when to tip and how much. 

The simple rule of thumb is that when you’re finished playing a series of games of blackjack at a table, you should leave a tip with the dealer. The custom is usually to give the minimum buy-in at the table to the dealer when you leave the table, though it’s good form to give more than that if you were on a winning streak and/ or were playing at that table for a particularly long period of time.  

The primary exception to this is if you hit, say, a $25 table with $100 to your name and you lose all your money in short order – like over four turns, perhaps. You’re not really expected to tip in such circumstances, but playing a $25 table with only $100 to your name is a profoundly stupid idea and the lack of expectation of a tip comes, in no small part, from pity over your awful judgment.  

Also, though it’s almost always proper to tip the dealer, that’s only if they’re behaving in such a way to deserve such a tip. If they’re rude or belligerent, there’s no real point to reward them for acting that way.

10 dollar notes

Respecting Other Players

Obviously, basic courteousness, manners and respect towards both the other players at the table and towards the dealer really needn’t be spelled out, but it’s shocking how often basic decency goes out of the window in a high-intensity game of blackjack. Always keep your cool no matter how badly you’re doing – and if you’re practicing responsible gambling where you never gamble beyond a set budget of disposable income (no grocery money and no credit!), this shouldn’t be a big issue. That said, alcohol can bring out the worst in us so do try and limit just how many rounds of free booze you order while playing.

Respect and courteousness towards other players goes beyond this, though. If you’re playing at a table with serious high-rollers, for example, you should both know the ins and outs of how to play the game and you should avoid reckless gambling behavior that might throw off the other players. It may seem counterintuitive that you should be the one who leaves a table that where serious, professional levels of gambling are taking place as you surely have as much right to be there as anyone else, but if you feel like the odd man (or woman) out at the table, you should preferably look for another table to play at.

 

A Blackjack Table’s Idiosyncrasies

While these are more general rules of how to behave at the blackjack table, there are other smaller rules of etiquette that are a lot less obvious – and though you shouldn’t feel ashamed for not knowing them as a beginner at a more casual table, it’s exactly the sort of thing that will make more serious players take against you.

Some of these are:

 

  • Pay the cashier, not the dealer. Don’t try and buy more chips from the dealer in the middle of a game. 
  • Hold your cards with one hand. Two hands can often be used to cheat by card-swapping so even if most people aren’t doing anything of the sort, it’s bad form to hold your cards with both hands. 
  • Keep those cards visible. Do not hide them beneath the table or obscure them with other body parts.  
  • Signal your decisions with hand movements rather than saying “hit” or “double” or “stay”. You normally do this by tapping your cards when you want to hit, doing a horizontal cutting motion with your hand when you want to stay. If you’re not sure about the more complicated gestures, just ask the dealer and you’ll get the hang of it quickly. 
  • Don’t handle the cards when they’re both dealt face up, just keep your hand gestures close to them. Similarly, when the dealer calls no more bets, keep your hands off your chips. 99% of the time, the dealer should be the only one handling the cards dealt (when playing the version where all cards are dealt face up) and the bets after they’ve been placed.

 

Keep to these simple, if sometimes seemingly arbitrary-seeming rules and you should have a great time hanging out at the blackjack table.

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