Blackjack · · 4 min read

The blackjack etiquette for players and spectators

Blackjack etiquette is about keeping a calm & friendly stance inside the casino. You'll always get invited to join games & stand a better chance of winning.

The blackjack etiquette for players and spectators

The thrill of ‘letting the dealer bust’ by not hitting my sixteen from the last position or not splitting Aces, because ‘I will leave the upcoming face cards for the dealer’s five’ always gets the spectators of a blackjack game. Bystanders, not willing to take a seat (and heat), tend to remember ‘clever’ plays that made everyone richer but condemn everyone who ‘helps’ the dealer hit a miraculous 21.

Yet, these plays are far from clever. Players who hit cards but eventually lose to the dealer’s sheer luck may not be that bad, either.

Let’s face it. Everyone entering a casino wants to beat the house.

Although they cheerfully admit that they are visiting to have fun, the thought of winning some ‘easy money’ never escapes their mind. Fun quickly diminishes when we lose hard-earned money but almost never returns, even if we win. The negative sentiment of losing is easily established in our brains, denying any positive thinking.

Think about it for a minute: what would have a bigger impact to your psychology, losing a hundred or winning a hundred?

Back before I got barred from the casinos for playing blackjack professionally, I used to invite friends to play next to me but only if they didn’t mind for the money they would likely lose. Quick as a bullet, they would agree with that, yet I would stress the importance of that. Would winning make the same difference in their life as in losing?

The answer was a no, of course. Winning a hundred or two would allow them to spend a bit recklessly the next few days. So be it, it’s like ‘free money’. But losing a hundred or two of their cash would severely affect their mood. Depression may hastily kick in when an unknown puts a dent in our wallet!

8 essentials of the blackjack etiquette

This change of mood can influence the behavior of even the best players. I’ve seen serious-looking pro gamblers lose their temper when they run into bad luck. At these hard times, it’s difficult to remind ourselves of the blackjack etiquette that suggests:

  1. Never insult the dealer. They are regular people like ourselves, struggling with life’s troubles. Hitting a twenty-one with their hole card’s six doesn’t entitle us to swear on them! Imagine customers coming to your store and insulting you all day long. How long would you take it? Besides, dealers’ moves are defined by specific rules. Robots could replace them sometime in the future, so enjoy playing with humans while we still can!
  2. Don’t comment on a player’s play negatively. Their play does not affect your cards in any way in the long run, contrary to popular belief. Even the most disciplined gamblers can make mistakes in blackjack. None of them will influence how much you win or lose long term. Look at the big picture and stay focused on your cards. Also, feel free to praise plays that look smart or made you money. Nothing wrong with a confidence boost.
  3. Advising a sitting player how to play is cowardliness. If you used to stand behind players betting on their cards, you accept the risk of entrusting their moves. It’s not a matter of who bets the most. It’s about sitting down and playing your cards. Grow a pair and take a seat next time you think of sharing a piece of advice from the back seat.
  4. Don’t touch cards or money, only your chips. The only time you touch money is when you take money out of your wallet and drop it on the table. Hopefully, you’ll touch money again when you visit the cashier on your way out. Also, keep your hands away from other people’s chips. Would you like others touching your own money?
  5. Don’t push, don’t interfere with the game. If you are spectating the game and suddenly feel the urge of betting in the next round, don’t act like a bull throwing your chips on the table, pushing players already sitting down. Politely ask the dealer to wait for a moment before you place your bets. You show respect to everyone in the room, who will appreciate your behavior.
  6. Don’t smell bad, dress nice. No one wants to sit next to a filthy person who hasn’t seen a mirror in ages.
  7. If you spot a pro, don’t ask them questions at the table; wait until they get up. No one will explain you what card counting is in the heat of the battle, and definitely in front of the dealer or the cameras. Have the courtesy to wait and approach them at a better time. Soon you’ll find out that card counting isn’t that impressive as it sounds.
  8. Learn basic strategy. Nine out of your future ten comments will never come out of your mouth and you’ll actually save money!

Blackjack etiquette isn’t that hard to follow. The hardest times would be when you lose money. Try staying calm and if you catch yourself losing your mind and behaving erratically, better leave the casino and come back another day. You won’t harm your image and your fellow players will welcome you to their table every time.

Pro gamblers always invite friendly and polite spectators to their tables to have a chat. Sometimes, we’ll let you know when to bet profitably, as well. It’s a win-win scenario.

Image: Comaniciu Dan/

Read next