Although the basic game is the same, as are the rules, many players find that playing blackjack in a real-world casino for the first time is a different experience from playing online. Sometimes even experienced online players can feel a little lost when stepping onto a busy casino floor for the first time.
So in this article, we’ll take a look at the specific rules and etiquette that apply when playing blackjack in a real-world casino.
We’ll also compare and contrast these rules to those that you might be used to when playing blackjack online, so you know what to expect and can adapt between real-world and online play quickly and easily.
Choosing a Table
At an online casino, you have the benefit of a wide choice of blackjack games, including many popular variations. But the best part is that no matter how busy the online casino might be, you can always start whichever game you like, immediately.
But when you’re in a real-world casino, there might not be such a wide range of blackjack versions on offer.
If it’s busy, tables can often fill up fast. You might have to wait for a seat to become available – particularly at the lower-stakes tables. I’ve often seen Vegas strip gaming floors where every single blackjack table is completely full, which can be quite frustrating.
There is one perk of playing for real though, and that’s the free drinks for players. Be sure to tip your cocktail waitress when she comes back with your drink – it’s the right thing to do, and it also means she’ll keep coming back!
Blackjack is always played with casino chips, not actual currency. Therefore, before you can play, you need to change some money into chips. If you win, you can then change these back after you finish playing.
To change money at an online casino, you simply go to the cashier page and select your preferred method. For most people, this will be a credit/debit card, but you can also use an e-wallet such as PayPal or Skrill if you prefer. You then follow the instructions on the screen to make your deposit. The money should show up in your casino account instantly, ready for you to start playing with.
At a land-based casino, finding the cashier is usually pretty easy. In most cases, they will be located near the entrance. Once you find them, simply hand over your money and they will give you an equivalent amount in chips.
When you play blackjack, you can also buy chips directly at the table. To do this, simply place your money in front of you on the table and the dealer will exchange it for an equal value of chips.
Blackjack Hand Signals
When you play blackjack online, or using a blackjack mobile app, you click or tap buttons to tell the game what move you want to make. But when you play in real life, it’s a little different.
In a casino, you will use hand signals to indicate your decision to the dealer. This helps the dealers to know what you want and means there can be no misunderstandings due to language barriers, accents, or simply the background noise and atmosphere of the casino itself.
The hand signals are also for the benefit of the “eye in the sky” – that is, the security cameras that are almost always present in casinos. These can help to resolve any disputes which may arise during the course of a blackjack game.
Here are the most common hand signals you will use when playing blackjack in a casino:
Tap the table in front of you, or alternatively, you can beckon towards the dealer in a “come here” motion.
Hold your hand out, palm down, with your fingers together.
If you are splitting a pair of cards, put your additional chips next to your original stake inside the betting circle.
Do not put the chips on top of your original bets, and remember not to touch the cards themselves. The dealer will move them for you.
Put your chip next to your original bet, inside the betting circle, and then tap the table.
Wave your hand over your cards, palm down.
These are the most common hand signals you will use in a casino. If you are unsure about any of them, ask the dealer for help.
Strategy Cards and Prompts
If you’re an online player, you might be used to using blackjack strategy cards or tables to remind yourself of the ideal moves to make when implementing basic strategy.
But when you sit at a physical blackjack table, these are not allowed. Instead, you’ll need to commit the basic strategy rules to memory.
If you’re playing blackjack online, counting cards is not an option as the decks are shuffled after each hand. But if you’re playing offline in a casino, it could be a viable strategy – if you can pull it off without being caught!
Card counting is where you keep track of which cards have been played and adjust your betting accordingly. For example, if you know that there are still a lot of high cards left in the deck, you may decide to bet more as you’re more likely to be dealt a blackjack.
Of course, this is only really an option for experienced players as it’s not easy to do. And if you’re caught, the casino may ask you to leave. You won’t be taken out the back and beaten though – that only happens in Hollywood films like 21.
Tipping the Dealer
If you’re playing online or on an app, most of the time you’re playing against the computer. But even at live dealer tables, there is no need to tip.
At a brick-and-mortar casino, tipping the dealer is optional. Of course, it’s always appreciated, but if you’ve not been lucky and have lost your chips, then dealers recognize that and wouldn’t expect anything.
However, if you’ve had a good session and ended in profit, it’s always nice to toss the dealer a chip or two at the end. It doesn’t have to be much, and it shouldn’t eat away the bulk of your profits, but I tend to leave about 1-2 hands worth of stake as long as the dealer has been friendly, and I feel I can afford it.
Even if you’re an experienced blackjack player, it’s worth taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the specific blackjack rules of the casino you’re playing in. These might differ slightly from one establishment to another, and it pays to be prepared.
And if you’re new to the game, then remember to take your time, have fun, and enjoy the experience. There’s no need to worry about making mistakes – the dealers will be happy to help you out, and everyone has to start somewhere!
Last Updated on September 29, 2022
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