Blackjack Etiquette & Myths

So, you like to play Blackjack, eh?  Here are some tips to follow. Some things have to do with your presence at the table, others, proper strategy. One thing is for sure – there are a lot of people out there who think they know everything, but guess what – THEY DON’T!  So, here is a mish-mash of do’s and dont’s from the pros.


DO – Always stand if you have a 16, and the casino dealer holds anything above a 6. 

DON’T ever split 5’s or 10’s.  (ONE GENIUS WROTE IN HER BLOG “Except for tens and face cards, always split your pairs.”  See, you can’t believe everything you read)

DO – Always hit a soft 17 (i.e. ace-6), split aces and 8s, double down on 11, and stand on a hard 17 (or greater).

DON’T – take insurance. Why is it offered?  Because the casino knows the odds are very much in their favor. (Please note,  Bill Kaplan, co-founder of the MIT blackjack team, does list one exception – if  you’re keeping track of the ratio of aces and 10-cards remaining in the stack of cards still to be played (i.e. the shoe), and the odds are in your favor.)

DO – take breaks like getting a drink of water, eating a snack, or simply stretching  your legs. 

DON’T – play cards when you’re drinking, alcohol, that is.  If you do, moderate.  It’s free, it’s not like the $25 buffet that you have to eat enough to get your money’s worth.

DO – Win or lose, be gracious.

DON’T – Be arrogant or cocky, it is unacceptable.  Don’t be a jerk.  Unless you are specifically asked, do not offer unsolicited advice. It slows the game down. It frustrates the player who is trying to make his own decision. It’s obnoxious. And you never want to be the person who everyone else is talking about after they leave the table.

DO – accept that you have a greater probability to lose.  Either you’re good, or really good – and then you will be asked not to return anyway.  Do your best, but expect not to win all the time.

DON’T – accept the nonsense of a “hot” or “cold” table or a “hot” or “cold” dealer.  And with that,

DO – take any seat.  All seats at the table are the same. Surprisingly, cards have no preference for particular seats. Only superstitious people do.

DON’T – believe third base is the seat that plays for the table.  Play your hand for your strategy, not the whims of the misinformed.

DO – pay attention to the dealer.  If the dealer pauses after you make a decision, it could be his way of telling you to reconsider your decision. Almost every dealer knows basic strategy like the back of their hand…ALMOST… it’s still your responsibility to know the strategy.  So, DO take it upon yourself to be prepared to play the game.

DON’T – Tip the dealer, unless he has been friendly and entertaining enough to reward him/her for a pleasant experience.  But, unless dealers are doing something dishonest, they can’t do anything that will affect your play.

DO – memorize the strategy cards for the best decisions in playing.  Once you’ve learned basic strategy, your disadvantage at the game will be .5%, which makes Blackjack the best game to play in the casinos.

DON’T – AND THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE, SO LISTEN UP – DON’T blame another player’s “bad decision” for ruining your hand.  First of all, results — good and bad — wash out over time regardless of what decisions are made. Secondly, the actions of other players don’t affect the chances for you to have a winning hand. Those chances are the same regardless of how another person plays their cards. So the next time the player next to you draws a card that you believe should have been yours, take a deep breath, relax and calm down. You might draw a card that works for you. Or you might not. But that player hasn’t affected your chance to win.

Leave a Reply