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Land Casino Blackjack Etiquette

By: Rick Balding, Friday October 15th 2010
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Playing blackjack in online casinos is very simple. The buttons for all the moves are displayed on the screen at the edge of the table. The player just has to click on the desired button in order to execute the play. In land casinos this procedure obviously cannot be followed. Also verbal communication between player and dealer is not accepted for some valid reasons. There is always lot of background chatter going on and hence it is very likely the dealer may not correctly hear what the player says. With players coming from a wide spread of cultural backgrounds problems of understanding the accent may also arise. Therefore a standard system of hand signals has been evolved for playing blackjack at land casinos. These and other table practices are collectively referred to as blackjack etiquette.

Blackjack etiquette differs in land casinos where the players' cards are dealt face up and in the casinos where players' cards are dealt face down. The former practice is prevalent in Europe, whereas the latter practice is common in Las Vegas. The blackjack etiquette for the face up cards is discussed first. Players are not allowed to touch the cards that are dealt. The reason is to prevent players from marking the cards in some way. If players want to hit then they should point clearly at their cards. If players want to stand they should wave their hand over their cards, with the hand parallel to the table. If they want to double they should place the second bet next to the first bet and if they want to split they should place the second bet on one of the cards that form the pair. On no account must the second bet be placed on top of the first bet. This is to prevent players from adding more than the amount originally wagered.

In the face down games the players should lift the cards with one hand only and keep them above the level of the table at all times. The players should see the cards once and place them face down again and thereafter not touch them. Some land casinos allow players to look at the cards again but discourage this practice. If the player wants to hit he should make a brushing or scratching motion behind the cards. If the player wants to stand he should slide his cards face down under the chips. This may need practice because the player is not allowed to touch the chips and should not damage or mark the cards. For doubling or splitting the player should turn his cards over and then follow the same signals described in the earlier case.

There are some etiquette rules that need to be followed no matter which version of blackjack is being played at the land casino. Once the bet is placed the players cannot touch the chips under any circumstances. This is to prevent them from adding or removing chips. Tipping the dealer is not mandatory but expected, especially if the player is winning. In land casino parlance this is known as toking. The practice is to place a separate wager for the dealer by placing the chips on the edge of the betting area. If the hand wins the chips and the winnings from the tip bet go to the dealer. If the hand loses the tip bet goes to the casino. Players can be ejected from the table for not following the land casino blackjack etiquette.

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