The Key Aspects of Blackjack Etiquette

Blackjack dealer shuffling cards at the table

Blackjack is a staple card game that is played in casinos all over the world. While the rules are simple, there are some important aspects of blackjack etiquette for you to be aware of. This begs the question “What is blackjack etiquette?, and how can you be sure you are doing the right thing? This guide gives you insight into what the correct action is for the most common situations.

Handling the Cards

The way that you handle your blackjack cards is one of the points that you need to be very careful with. It might seem natural for you to pick them up and hold them while deciding what to do next, but this goes against good blackjack table etiquette in many casinos.

How do you know whether you can touch the cards or not? Simply look to see if they have been dealt face-up or face-down on the table. The following are the main points to remember as you play.

  • Don’t pick up the cards or hold them in your hands if they have been dealt face-up
  • If the cards are dealt face-down, pick them up with just one hand
  • You have to make sure that your cards can be seen by the dealer and the casino’s security camera at all times.

These rules are designed to avoid the risk of people tampering with their cards. The majority of casinos now deal their cards face- up, so there is no need to touch them at all.

Handling Your Chips

Place your chips in the betting area before the deal begins, bearing in mind the minimum and maximum limits at the table. As soon as the dealer starts to deal the cards, you can’t handle your chips anymore, unless you are going to double down, surrender or take insurance. When can you touch your chips again? They will remain in place until the hand is completed and your chips will double or the dealer takes your chips.

Interacting with the Dealer

The dealer’s job is to run the game in a smooth, professional manner, and the way you interact with them is a big part of blackjack etiquette. There are some particularly important points in this part of our blackjack etiquette guide about good behaviour at the table.

  • Use hand signals to let the dealer know your intentions
  • If you want to hit, you just need to make a ‘come here’ type of gesture
  • To stand, you can wave your hand over your cards, with the palm facing down
  • Splitting or doubling down can be signalled by placing the number of chips needed next to the original wager
  • Ask the dealer to clarify the rules if you aren’t sure of your options
  • When you want to give a tip, you need to pass a chip over the table to the dealer and clearly let them know it’s for them

For more information on hand signalling, visit our blackjack rules chapter.

Interacting with Other Players

What is blackjack etiquette when there are other players at the table? Each blackjack player has their own way of playing and it is crucial that you respect this while keeping all of the general blackjack etiquette points in mind.

Should you speak to other blackjack players? Some casino-goers will chat to others and ask for advice, while others won’t. Don’t make suggestions if no one has asked you for advice. Equally, you should avoid making any comments that could put others off or cause offence.

Regional Differences in Blackjack Etiquette

Does blackjack etiquette vary from one country to another? The main points that we have covered here are valid wherever you play this card game. However, there are some differences you will see if you play in various parts of the world.

Perhaps the most important is around tipping. In American casinos, the dealers rely on tips to boost their wages. Players in the US typically pay around 1%-2% of their win in tips, although this is a personal decision. You might want to take into account how often you have won as well as how good or entertaining their service is.

In Asian casinos, there is no tipping culture and if you do this it might be considered as offensive. When playing in Europe, tipping can be done discreetly but isn’t as widespread as in America. Casino tipping wasn’t allowed in the UK until 2005. Some players will tip while others don’t.

Playing Online with a Human Dealer

The introduction of live blackjack games with human dealers has introduced a new way of playing. This is an approach that combines an authentic casino setting with the convenience of playing anywhere and at any time.

Does playing with a live dealer change your approach? Of course there is a big difference between playing online and in a physical casino, and some of the blackjack table etiquette rules we have looked at don’t apply in this case, since you can’t physically pick up the cards or signal your intentions to the dealer. However, you should still consider whether to tip the dealer for their services.

You can also interact with the dealer as well as with other players at the table through the chat function that is provided on many live blackjack games. The best advice is to not do anything that could be considered as impolite. Just imagine that you are playing in a land casino and stick to the same basic blackjack guidelines.

Summary of Blackjack Etiquette

We have seen that there are a few different aspects of blackjack etiquette to stick to, but nothing that should be too difficult to recall once you sit down at a table to play.

By using the widely-accepted blackjack table etiquette that we have covered here, you will enjoy the game more. This is also a way of helping to make the casino experience more pleasant for other players and those who work there.

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Did you know?

Picking up your cards is a no-no in most casinos. If they are dealt face-up, you shouldn’t touch them. If they are placed on the table face-down, you should use just one hand to pick up and hold them. Naturally, playing online removes the need to think about this issue at all.

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As a 20 year veteran of the casino industry, Nicholas has been involved in all aspects of gaming, from advantage player/manager with the infamous M.I.T Blackjack teams, to a consultant to the “house” in the capacity of gaming mathematician and data scientist. Nicholas has been a visiting lecturer at DUKE, Clemson, and Michigan State Universities. He’s also a published author in the game-theory arena, with an emphasis on economic applications, and is a contributor to many casino gaming and financial sites and publications, including WizardofOdds.com, Forbes, and Bloomberg.

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