The Dos and Don’ts of Blackjack Betting

A little intimidated by the unspoken blackjack betting rules at the table? Don’t fret, here are the basic dos and don’ts to help you get started like a seasoned pro.

Basic Blackjack Table Etiquette

If you take a seat at a table while a hand is going on, do wait until the hand is over. Don’t put your chips or cash down on the layout until the hand has finished. Then, you can ask for the change that you want. However, don’t leave money sitting around in the betting box. In a lot of jurisdictions, casinos can’t take your cash bets. Some casinos do permit cash bets when they call for “Money plays.” If the dealer has to wonder whether that Ben Franklin on the table is a request for some change or a bet on the upcoming hand, though, he might misunderstand and cause some frustration.

After you’ve made your bet, do keep from touching your chips in the betting box until that hand has come to an end. If your bet has chips from different denominations, do stack them so that the lowest denomination is on top. If you don’t, then the dealer has to. It’s a casino’s way of keeping people from sliding another big chip on top of their bet after they know how the hand turned out.

In games with one or two decks, with dealing face down, do pick up your cards with one hand. If you want a hit, use the cards to scratch the table. If you’re ready to stand, slide your cards beneath your chips. If you bust or want to double down or split pairs, do turn the cards face up. Leave the cards under your chips for the dealer to turn over when the hand is over.

In games using more than two decks, do use hand signals for hitting or staying. If you’re new to blackjack, don’t sit in the table’s last seat – the one to the players’ left. The term for this chair is “third base,” and here you will play last before the dealer. Bad plays all over the table help and hurt other players, but if you make a mistake in this position that costs other people money, they will notice more easily. If the dealer has a 6 showing, but the player at third base has 13 and hits for a 10 to bust, and then the dealer draws a Jack to get to 16 and then a 5 to get to 21, the third base player could get heat for taking the dealer’s bust card (that second 10 would have ended up with the dealer as well, giving hm 26).


Want to keep your seat after a trip to the restroom? Do ask the dealer to save your spot. He’ll put a plastic disc in your betting box to tell others that the seat is in use.

Other Things To Remember at the Blackjack Table

Do remember that, because the players go first, the house has an advantage when the dealer doesn’t have to play at all. If all of the players bust before the dealer plays, he doesn’t have to play at all – he automatically wins. This is how the house has an edge in blackjack. Over time, the casinos will rake in more than the other players because of this rule. The casino does give back some of this advantage by showing one of the dealer’s cards, paying out 3-2 if a player draws blackjack and permitting splitting of pairs and doubling down. However, players who don’t know the right strategy don’t benefit from these extras.

What does all this mean? Do take your time studying the strategy of blackjack. Understanding when to stand, when to split, and when to double down can bring the house’s edge down to about 0.5 percent with a six-deck game. That’s still an edge, but not nearly as much. Knowing expert tips makes a big difference.

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