Blackjack Strategy: A Beginner's Guide to Blackjack Table Manners
Whether you're trying the game for the first time or switching to a real life casino, there are a number of basic rules governing behaviour at the blackjack table.
First up, when you arrive at a table, bring your chips. Few casinos allow cash bets, and if they do you'll hear the dealer call "money plays". Once you're seated, wait for the current hand to finish before placing a bet. If you have a drink with you, settle it in a safe spot - spillages aren't just embarrassing, they're disruptive.
Placing a Bet
When making a bet, place the smallest denomination of chip on the top of your pile. If you don't, the dealer might have to. It's a simple rule to guard against players trying to add to their stack when a win looks likely.
Now it's time for the deal. In some games the cards are dealt face down (Nevada Style), in which case you can discretely look at them before making your strategy decision. In most games, however, the cards will be dealt face-up (London style) and you should not touch them at any point during a game. Again, this is to avoid accusations of tampering.
The dealer will move through the players at the table, from his left (your right) to his right (your left). Wait your turn before declaring your move.
Because real casinos have an atmosphere, it might get a little noisy: that's why Blackjack has developed a few simple hand gestures to help you convey your move to the dealer. To hit, lightly tap the table in front of your cards. If you want to double your bet - place your chips behind your initial stake. Don't stack them. To split, the wager goes beside your original stake, and you can also gesture to the cards with a 'V' sign using your index and middle fingers. If you're sticking/standing, simply wave your hand across your cards.
During a long session, it's usually acceptable to strike up short conversations and, if you're a novice, ask for advice; but it's far better to play or observe for a while before getting too chatty. Although most players enjoy the patter, and more still would rather you asked for advice than 'took their cards' or inadvertently stopped the dealer going bust, attitudes can vary.
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Sometimes in a real casino environment, you might be able to indulge in a bit of back betting (backing someone else's hand). If you do want to try it, check with the player first, and don't distract or try to play the hands for him/her. It's normally OK to ride someone's luck, but not to test their patience.
It's also important to remember that rules of common courtesy apply. If someone's bum strategy spoils your run, or if you have some bad luck, don't take it out on the dealer or other players. Aside from ruining someone's game, you may be ejected from the table. Lastly, don't forget that in many casinos it's polite to tip the dealer when you're on a winning streak, or after a long session.
These same tips can be used when playing online or in a land-based casino, with top UK operators like NetBet Casino offering a number of Live Casino options.
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