Casino Etiquette

Players who are stepping up to the blackjack tables for the first time always find themselves wondering what is the proper etiquette at table games. Usually, players have some idea of how to behave based on what they’ve seen in the movies, but how accurate is that?

If you hope to gain an advantage when playing blackjack, learning casino etiquette is very important. Unfortunately, playing blackjack online won’t help much, since the dealers are computers and you can behave however you like. This guide is therefore your number one source for learning blackjack casino table manners.

Proper Casino Etiquette

  • Talking is a touchy subject around blackjack tables. Enjoy yourself and have fun, but be careful not to distract other players or the dealer.
  • Blackjack is a fun game to watch, but make sure that you stand at a respectful distance and do not distract players from their game.
  • If you are new to blackjack or don’t feel completely confident yet, it’s a good idea to seek out an empty table where you can play against the dealer without the distraction of other players, who may not appreciate the addition of a less advanced player who might hold up the game. Or, use free online blackjack games to learn the ropes.
  • Don’t ask the dealer to teach you how to play, and don’t request too much advice. Not only will this hold up the game for other players, but dealers don’t want (and don’t deserve) to be responsible for advising you when and how to bet.
  • When you first sit down at a table, introduce yourself. Briefly. Your name and home town is enough. If that feels too abrupt you can volunteer, “I work in the (tech/ medical/ legal/ entertainment/ education/ etc.) industry.” You can lie if you want, but make sure you don’t introduce yourself as an attorney if you are wearing the local carpenters union jacket.
  • Don’t drink at the table unless it doesn’t interfere with the game. Spilling on the green felt is a big fowl, and so is holding up a game in order to flag down that cute waitress for another drink.
  • If need to step away from the table for a moment, ask the dealer to “mark your place.” The dealer will then put a clear plastic market down in your designated betting box indicating that the seat is taken.
  • If you think another player is playing badly don’t harass them. Just pick up and move to another table.

Table Manners – Entering a Game Already in Play

When jumping into a game that’s already going, it is important to politely ask the current players if they mind. The addition of a new player permanently alters the count, and the current players may feel that a new player negatively affects the outcome of the game for them. You of course have the right to sit down, but asking is the polite thing to do.

Casino Etiquette
A little kindness goes a long way

Where to Sit

In blackjack, even your spot at a table means something, and good players learn that their blackjack strategy must change depending on where they sit relative to the dealer. Be sure you understand these terms before heading to the casino.

First Baseman – The player sitting at a table who receives his cards first.

Third Baseman – The player who receives his cards from the dealer last. If standing behind the active players, the third baseman is the person seated farthest to the left. This player is the last to act before the dealer and may be the most scrutinized if they make a mistake making this a less desirable position for novice players.

Of course a game can have more than two players, however these are the two “key” positions to be familiar with. It is often felt that the first baseman is the position of the greatest weakness in a game with multiple players while the third baseman is at an advantage. Unless you are playing in a black jack tournament, there is no real basis for this.

How to Bet

The most important part of betting is to communicate in a clear and straightforward manner with the dealer. It’s basic respect and will save the dealer a lot of trouble that will work in your favor in the end.

  • If using chips of various denominations, then make sure that the highest value chips are on the bottom. The reason for this is that it prevents players from sneaking in a higher denomination chip once a favorable outcome is known.
  • After placing a bet remove your hands so that the chips are clearly visible to the dealer.
  • Wait for a break in the action to “color up.”

Tip the Dealer

It is not only in the players best interest to tip the dealer, it is a standard courtesy for a service that is similar to that of a waiter. Casinos expect patrons to tip dealers and so pay them less, making the dealers actual income dependent on the generosity of individual gamblers. Like other things in blackjack there are several ways to tip a dealer (some more slick than others) and some general rules of thumb to measure how much and how often you should tip.

Casino Etiquette
Tipping is hot
  • Dealers don’t expect players to tip as much when they are losing, so don’t sweat that one. The general idea is that if you aren’t winning you should move on to another table or take a break.
  • Place an additional bet on the dealer’s behalf a few times per hour of play. Generally this works out to about 5 times per hour. This can be done by adding a chip to the side of your bet or to the top of your existing bet as long as this is plainly announced to the dealer before the hand.
  • The difference between making a side bet and adding the amount to your own bet is that after a side bet is called the dealer must immediately take the money, while adding it to your own bet may allow you to “parlay” the winning bet for the dealer.
  • Deciding how much to tip is a balancing act between deciding how friendly and proficient the dealer is along with your own bankroll. A safe ratio is 2/3 based on the dealer and 1/3 based on your win rate.

Players can always ask the dealer how tips are handled, because at some casinos tips are pooled then shared among dealers, so it’s always good to find out.