Blackjack Etiquette


Because Blackjack is a social game, it involves considerable interaction among the players and with the dealer. A set of appropriate behaviors has been developed to prevent cheating, avoid misunderstandings, and promote enjoyable play. Even players sitting down at the table for the first time are expected to know the basics of Blackjack etiquette. Following the established customs of play helps minimize the possibility of unpleasant incidences and ensures a fair game.

Before the Deal

Prior to sitting down at a table, a prospective player should ask if what looks like an empty seat is available. Make sure it is not being played as a multiple hand or held for someone who has temporarily left the game. Be aware that some rules prohibit mid-deck entry; it may be necessary to wait until after the shuffle to buy in and play.

Those who do not carry chips to the table from the cashier or a different game can exchange cash to chips with the dealer between hands or after the shuffle. The table minimum will be clearly posted. To receive chips, currency should be placed on the table, not thrust toward the dealer. The dealer will fan the bills out so that the security camera can record the transaction. Stacks of chips will be counted out and pushed back across the table. It is the player’s responsibility to conform that the total is correct.

After the shuffle, the dealer will ask one player to cut the cards. This done with an unmarked plastic card, which must be inserted mid-way into the deck, at least a full deck from either end when multiple decks are used. Following the cut, the dealer will “burn’” (discard) one or more of the cards on top, just as a precaution against deck rigging or peeking.

The chips that the player wants to wager must be stacked, not spread out, in the center of the betting circle that appears on the table in front of his/her seat. The smallest denomination chips go on top and the largest on the bottom. After the deal begins, the wagered chips must not be touched until the hand is over and all bets have been settled.

Play of the Hand

In Blackjack games where all of the players’ cards are dealt face up, nobody but the dealer may touch the cards. In games where cards are dealt face-down, the player is allowed to use one hand only to handle the cards. Cards should never be bent, and they must be held above the table surface, never removed from the playing area.

For the benefit of the surveillance cameras, all actions a layer may take—hit, stand, split, double down, etc.—must be signaled by using unambiguous gestures, not just verbal commands. In a face-up game, pointing to the hand indicates “hit,” waving off the dealer means “stand,” and using a forefinger to draw behind the betting circle is used to “surrender.” Other gestures include pointing to a pair with two fingers to split them and pushing a stack of chips forward and raising the index finger to request “one card” for doubling down. In face-down games, scratching the table with the cards indicates “hit,” sliding the cards under the chips wagered means “stand,” and showing the cards face up is used to double, split, surrender, or bust, which corresponding additional wagering or hand signals as above.

Players should be careful not to stack more chips on top of the original bet when doubling or splitting. Just push the chips toward the dealer to count and arrange in the betting circle. When a drawing card and it is desired face up, lift one hand with the palm facing up and say, “Up please.”

Once a hand is done and all wagers have been settled, winnings can be raked in. Should any chips remain in the betting circle at the start of the next hand, they will be considered as a new bet. Even if the player wants to “let it ride” following a win or a push, it’s good form to remove the chips, count them out again, and then replace them in the betting circle.

Tipping the dealer is always in good taste. This can be accomplished by pushing a chip toward the center of the table, pointing to the dealer, and saying, “For the dealer.” Another way to tip is by placing a wager for the dealer. To do so, put a chip on the edge of the betting circle nearest the dealer so that it straddles the line. Should a hand be split or doubled, the same should be done for the wagered tip.