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Top 10 things never to do at the blackjack table

11 Feb 2019

By Dan Ippolito
When you sit down at the blackjack table, you're hoping to have a good experience and maybe to win some money. To accomplish either of these goals, you should be aware of certain basic rules about both the game itself and your behavior.

Here are 10 things you should never do while sitting at a blackjack table:

10. Don’t hand your money to the dealer
When you're first hitting the tables, you are going to need to exchange your money for a stack of chips. To do so, you must place the money down on the table in front of your seat. Do not hand your money directly to the dealer. The money needs to be placed down so the dealer can pick it up from the table and count it out properly for the pit boss and the cameras.

9. Don’t bring your emotions to the table
Avoiding bringing emotions with you to the blackjack table is more important than some may think. Nobody wants someone very upset sitting next to them when they are losing, because it brings down the entire vibe of the table for others. You aren’t going to win every single hand, so you need to be prepared for some losses along the way.

On the other hand, it is reasonable to want to be excited when you win a big hand or are on a very strong roll of wins. However, don’t make it a touchdown celebration like you just won the Super Bowl. Be subtle about it and be happy for yourself, but don’t make a scene.

Remember, all it takes is one bad apple at the table to ruin the entire atmosphere. Don't be that bad apple.

Even if you are losing, you should still tip your dealer once in a while.

Even if you are losing, you should still tip your dealer once in a while. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

8. Don’t forget to tip the dealer
The dealer is going to help you at some point or another in a game of blackjack. Sometimes, if you have a tough decision, they may even give you advice on what your play should be. If you have a good dealer, they will likely be rooting for you to win rather than the house.

One reason they might want you to win is because if you are winning, you are more likely to tip them. Even if you are losing, you should still tip your dealer once in a while, because odds are they have been helpful to you and pretty upbeat with a good attitude. Players understand how much of a difference a fun and helpful dealer can be for the experience of the game.

7. Don’t touch the chips once the bets are made
When playing blackjack, you will have to move your desired bet into the designated location, typically in the circle right in front of your seat. Once everyone playing the hand has done so, the dealer will swipe their hand in front of all the bets placed to signal that the hand has officially begun and no changes can be made. As a player, you don’t want to do anything to disrupt the game, so do not touch the chips once the dealer has signaled and has begun dealing the cards. They don’t want any tampering with the chips, even if that isn’t the player’s intention.

6. Don’t touch the cards
This is another way a player can disrupt the flow of the game and cause players around them to get upset. A player at a face-up blackjack table should NEVER touch the cards, no matter what. It is pretty straightforward and easy to abide by, so I will just leave it at this: please, do anything to avoid touching the cards at a face-up blackjack table.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As mentioned above, the dealer may give you some advice from time to time, but they aren’t the only ones that can provide advice. If you get stuck in a tough situation where you can justify reasoning to making more than one play, don’t hesitate to ask someone what they think. They may tell you they don’t want to pick and be the cause of you losing your hand, but they also may give you a little advice that could end up with you winning.

This also somewhat leads back to leaving your emotions at the door. If you do ask for advice and you end up losing the hand because of what the player told you to do, you cannot get upset with that player, since you went to them and asked. And remember, there's no guarantee the advice you are receiving is correct, even if it's from the dealer.

4. Don’t tell others how to play
This isn’t to say you should never help out or give advice. The purpose of this guideline is to avoid ordering people on how to play their hand when they didn’t want any help in the first place.

If you are at the blackjack table and you see someone struggling with a decision but they seem to want to handle it themselves, let them. Even if you can tell they are making a mistake by hitting when they should stand, or something like that, do not butt into their hand. Nobody at the table wants to be told what to do, unless they need help and are looking for it.

3. Don’t stack your bet incorrectly
This may seem second nature for regular blackjack players, but sometimes even players who are familiar with it may forget. Do not stack your bet incorrectly when placing it in the betting box.

This is easy for players to overlook because they don’t have to count chips and pay out like the dealers do. When you are placing a bet, you want the highest-value chips to be on the bottom of the stack and the lowest value at the top. This helps the dealer count your bet quicker so that the game can move along faster and more smoothly. You don’t want to be the player getting in the way of the flow of the game because you have a $1 chip at the bottom of your stack and a $100 chip at the top.

By signaling, you are eliminating any chance of misunderstanding your intention and next move.

By signaling, you are eliminating any chance of misunderstanding your intention and next move. (photo by Flickr)

2. Don’t say your action, signal it
This is key for players to cooperate with the cameras and the dealers on. After you've decided whether you want to stand, you should always signal to the dealer what you want to do rather than saying it. This ensures there will be no confusion between the player and dealer or any mishearing of a player saying stand when he wanted to hit.

By signaling, you are eliminating any chance of misunderstanding your intention and next move. To signal you want to hit, simply tap the table or point at your cards. If you wish to stand, wave your hand over your cards to let the dealer know that. To double down, simple add the necessary value next to your original bet stack. The doubling down action is similar to splitting, so when you are splitting a bet, you also add the value next to the bet stack and split two fingers over your cards.

1. Don’t blame others for your losses
A lot of players tend to do this because they don’t want to admit they either played it wrong or they just flat out lost a hand because that’s how blackjack works.

If a player at your table goes against basic strategy and makes a play that everyone may not agree with and you lose that hand, do not blame the other player. You can’t predict the outcome of a blackjack hand — if you could, you would never lose a hand. A player may take a risk and it may not pay off, but that isn’t a reason to let them hear about how they blew a hand for you.

You have to look at it from the other side as well. In that same situation, a player may take an unorthodox "hit" or take a card when the odds say they should stand, and it could lead to the dealer busting and everyone winning at the table. It works both ways. You can thank them in that case, but if you lose, don’t bring any negative talk or energy to the table, because that will ruin everyone’s time.
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