Mar 24, 2021

Twenty-one mistakes of blackjack players

The game of blackjack in a real casino has its usual practices, code of conduct and strategies. Adhering to procedures is essential to play a safe game. When we speak of a code of conduct, we mean player's etiquette and not blaming the dealer or other players at the table. Using game strategies will help you win. If you do not comply with the above policies, you will not play the best game you could have. So try to avoid these twenty-one most common mistakes.

1. Giving cash to the dealer directly

All cash transactions must be visible on security cameras, so do not hand your money directly to the dealer. Place them in the space reserved for your bets that is marked on the table instead. Then tell the dealer how many chips you want to buy.

2. Touching the cards when they are face-up

When cards are dealt from four or more decks, each player gets cards facing up (picture side up) from a special dealing shoe. There are two reasons for that. The first is to limit the player's opportunities for cheating (for example, marking or exchanging a card). The second reason is to speed up the game, as the dealer can announce the card values of all players much faster than if players were holding the cards in their hands. This makes touching the cards is unnecessary, so refrain from doing so.

3. Holding cards with both hands

In games where cards are dealt face up (picture side up), usually from one or two decks, pick up the cards from the table using one hand rather than two.

4. The non-transparent holding of cards

The cards raised from the table must be visible to the dealer and the security cameras at all times, so always keep the cards above the table and not in your lap.

5. Putting things on the table

Any wallets or bags and other property should be either on your person (except for women's handbags which should be in their lap) or at your side. As for mixed drinks, it's okay if you drink during the game, but use the special drink holders to keep them from spilling over the table.

6. Asking the dealer for a hit

It's alright to call "hit me" in a game at home, but not in the casino. For safety reasons, hand signals are used in the casino for asking or refusing another card.

7. Touching the chips after the bets are closed and the cards are dealt

Your original bet must be placed into the area reserved for bets and untouched until a win, loss or draw is announced. Once the dealer starts dealing cards, this is also a signal that you cannot touch the chips you have bet.

8. Placing a higher bet in the higher betting area and a lower bet in the lower area

If you place two or more stacks of chips of different values, always place the highest value chips at the bottom of your betting area and the lower value chips to the higher area.

9. Do not place double the minimum bet on the table if you choose to play two hands at once

If the minimum bet on a table is five dollars, for example, and you decide to split, most casinos will require you to bet ten dollars on each hand. If you are not sure about this rule at your table, ask the dealer. If the cards have been dealt face down, do not look at the other hand until you finish playing the first.

10. If you're not lucky, don't blame the dealer or other players

The dealer or another player at the table isn't the cause of your loss. It's most likely that it's just an unfortunate sequence of cards that all players get from time to time.

11. Do not tell other players at the table how to play

It's their money and they have the right to play their game any way they want. However, if another player asks for your advice, it's okay to offer it to them.

12. Inserting the cut card only a few cards away from the end of the shuffled deck

In six-deck games, most casinos require the player to put the cover card at least half a deck (some casinos require a distance of at least one deck) away from the end of the entire deck of cards (i.e. the six-deck). If you put the card any closer to the end of the deck, you will be reprimanded by the dealer and asked to re-insert the cover card.

13. Getting seated at the table and placing bets when the dealing shoe is half empty

Some casinos forbid this and the tables usually display this ban ("No Mid-Shoe Entry"). So if you get seated at the table in the middle of the game and you are not sure if you can start playing, ask the dealer.

14. Not using the basic game strategy

The basic blackjack strategy is a mathematically verified way to use the dealt cards in the best possible manner. Not just the strategy but also various tips and tricks are available today in books, online or even in strategy guides you can bring to the casino and use legally. Even if you are only an average player, there is no point in guessing which next step will be most sensible when you can have all the information at your fingertips in a strategy guide.

15. When blackjack payouts are six to five (you get six for every five chips you bet)

For some tables, a blackjack (a sum of 21) has a payout of six to five rather than a more advantageous three to two (you get three chips for each two chips you bet). Obviously, a payout of six to five is not advantageous, so please watch out for tables marked "6 TO 5" rather than the classical "3 TO 2". If the table does not display this information, ask the dealer.

16. Playing at a table using CSM (Continuous Shuffling Machine)

Don't confuse a CSM with a traditional automatic card shuffler. CSM is a device that shuffles cards randomly, including discarded cards that are returned to the device after each round. This results in a faster game (saving the time needed to mix manually), so you get about 20% more games per hour compared to a table without a CSM. Since the casino gets ahead with each played game (the casino is always profitable in the long run), more games per hour increase your theoretical loss by 20%. That's why for average players, a CSM-based table is bad news and should be avoided.

17. Has your game ever been rated?

The casino has a set of "comps" for players to reward players in hope that they will become casino regulars. You'll never get a fair share of these goodies (for example, the casino may pay for your dinner) if you don't ask them to rate your blackjack game. If you don't know how ask about the details at the player's club or casino management.

18. Never ask for comps arrogantly

In a recent blackjack game, I overheard a player at my table ask a casino employee for a comp to get a four-person buffet after less than thirty minutes of play. This is not the right way to ask for a comp or benefit. Comps are not a "God-given" player's right. You have to earn them by fulfilling casino requirements (average bets and time spent in the game). Please ask the casino host or the marketing department about these requirements, and only after fulfilling them ask politely whether you've spent enough time to earn a something like a "dinner comp". If you ask politely once, you will be surprised how often you may get something "on the house" even without asking.

19. Using a progressive betting system

We know that many players use this system and claim that it works. But, believe us, it does not. It has never worked and will never work because your chance to win in the next round is completely independent of whether you have won or lost the previous game. The secret of winning in blackjack (a secret that has been known for about fifty years) is in raising bets only when the deck is rich in tens and aces. So, if you want to raise your bets, it is wise to watch the cards and bet more only when you see a significant ratio of low cards compared to high cards in previous games. It is even better to learn a simple card counting system, Speed Count, which tells you when it's time to raise your bet.

20. Not using the casino host services

This is a big mistake if you are a regular player. Casino hosts can really do a lot for you, and all players, not just high-rollers, can use their services. Read the book More Frugal Gambling by Jean Scott.

21. When to tip the dealer

When we're happy with the waiter's services, we leave them a tip. But in the case of a blackjack dealer, you should reconsider. It's not customary to tip the dealer, but rather a way to thank the dealer if he was pleasant or willing to explain some rules, procedures etc. Of course, leaving a tip will not change the sequence of cards in your favour, but remember that it can improve your image in the eyes of the employee supervising the game who has a relatively large discretion in giving away comps. Get it?

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