Understanding the Basics: Casino Communication

This series of articles aims to make entering a casino and playing blackjack for the first time much easier. There are scores of gamblers out there that want to try casino blackjack for the first time but are put off because they don’t know the etiquette or are unsure how the process works. This series was created with those aspiring players in mind.

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If you have ever wanted to play this game in the noisy setting of a casino, then this article can help. You’ve probably seen blackjack players in films and on TV, and when it comes to making their next move they talk to the dealer via hand gestures. This is not another part of Hollywood’s imagination, and these gestures are common in casinos worldwide. Casinos are loud and chaotic places and it can be hard for the dealer to hear you, which is why they exist. By all means shout if you can be heard, but after a while you’ll probably sicken yourself and annoy other players.

The Blackjack Code

These hand signals are pretty much universal and have been used by blackjack professionals from Vegas to London and from Macao to Australia. There is always scope for mistakes and misunderstandings, but the key here is that these signals are so different, those misunderstandings shouldn’t really happen. If you are unsure and want to make a key play, then by all means shout it as well. Another way to back up your hand signal is simply to mouth what you want to do, but trust us when we say that many blackjack players get by using these signals only, and they seem to have no issues with them.

Hit: To request a “hit”, which is when the dealer gives you another card, you simply need to tap the table behind your cards. Be sure not to do this on or near your chips and you should also refrain from doing it on your cards. Behind or next to them is fine, and as well as tapping the table, you may also lightly brush it with your fingers or simply point at them.
Stand: If you want to signal a “Stand”, which is where you receive no more cards and accept the total you currently have, then you should wave your hand over your cards. You can also give a general negative signal, but holding your hand flat and waving it across your cards will work fine.
Double Down: If you want to “Double Down”, which is where you double your bet and get one more card to add to your total, then you should hold out one finger. You should also place your additional bet first, but be sure never to add extra chips to your current stack and always place them to the side. The simple act of placing this bet may be all you need to signal to the dealer that you want to double down, but a single finger should also be raised, providing it is not the middle one and that it is not aimed at the dealer.
Split: A “Split” is where you turn one hand into two. A split can only occur when you have two cards of the same numerical value, and many blackjack players advocate only doing this with a select number of pairs. If you want to signal a split, then you should raise two fingers. Just try not to give the “V” sign, as this is rather offensive in many countries. You may simply hold two fingers flat over your cards.