Blackjack Etiquette

When it comes down to discussing blackjack etiquette, I find that it makes more sense to the people I’m sharing it to when I tell them what NOT to do. So if you’re making your way to the blackjack tables for the first time, I highly recommend reading my 10 tips below. That way you’re more likely to make friends at the blackjack table than enemies.

10 Things NOT To Do at the Blackjack Tables

1. Cheat.

Obvious? I hope so.

It’s not just about screwing the casino out of money, though. You screw your tablemates out of money, too. Not just that, but if you’re caught cheating you ruin the experience for them. It can also tarnish their view of the game, or gambling in general, forever skewing their thoughts on gambling.

Cheating is just bad news. Plus it can put you in jail. So don’t do it.

2. Stalling aka Taking your sweet time.

Stalling is basically taking your time to make a decision. Should you hit? Should you stand? Should you split?

Decisions… decisions….

While you’re entitled to think about each move you make, there is a fine line between thinking about your play and taking too long to (over) think your play. Part of the fun in blackjack is the constant, fast-paced action. You rob players of this benefit when you take too long to make a decision.

3. You don’t pay attention.

Another example of poor etiquette is not paying attention to the action. Forcing the dealer or the other players to constantly have to tell you to post your bet or that it’s your turn to play your hand. It slows the game down. And that sucks.

Always pay attention. If you want to chat someone up, talk on the phone or order a cocktail, do it away from the table, and make it fast.

4. Berating other players.

You shouldn’t berate other players for making, what you feel, is a bad play. A common scenario might be someone hitting too many times, seemingly taking away opportunities for the dealer to bust.

It’s just not nice, though. The other people are there to have a good time, too. You ruin that by telling everyone how they should play and what they should’ve done instead. But guess what the worst part is — no one cares what you think. So keep your opinions to yourself (unless you’re asked for your advice).

5. Do not ask the dealers for advice.

You should limit your questions to the dealer to technical, rule related questions. In other words, how do you play, can you split here, how much can you bet, and so on.

Don’t ask for advice, though, like when to split your hand or double down. They don’t want to be responsible for when you lose, berated or labeled as the bad luck dealer. They just want to deal your cards, show you a good time and (hopefully) make some tips.

6. Limit your smoking / drinking.

If the casino allows you to smoke and drink, then it’s perfectly within your right to do so.

However, as a non-smoker, I can tell you that it sucks when the guy next to me feels like lighting a smoke every 10 minutes. It makes it hard to enjoy yourself when you’re having a hard time breathing.

You know what else ruins the fun? People who are drunk, loud and annoying.

So I can tell you from experience that people will appreciate you a lot more when you limit how much you have to smoke or drink. Everyone will have a much better time.

7. Whining about bad hands.

No one cares, so knock it off.

8. Skip the tip.

Think of dealers much like restaurant employees, delivery drivers and baristas. They don’t make a whole lot per hour. They rely on tips to make up the difference in their income. So when a dealer does a good job in dealing a fast game, chatting with players and showing them a good time, give them a small tip to say "thank you."

9. Use the wrong hand signals.

Not understanding and/or using the wrong hand signals isn’t so much bad etiquette. But it slows down the game, which is considered bad etiquette. So learn them before you sit down, or ask the dealer real fast what hand signals you should use.

As a rule of thumb, pointing at your cards or scraping your card towards you is a signal for a hit. Waving your hand over your cards is the signal for standing. And placing an additional bet is a signal for doubling down or splitting.

10. Loud / Obnoxious / Commentary

Just being rude, annoying and commenting on every hand or situation is bad etiquette. Not every wants to chat (that would be me), but instead just enjoy themselves while playing a few hands of 21. Blackjack can be a community game in the right circumstances, but only if everyone at the table wants to participate.