Marc has provided a lot of good information about blackjack lately and I hope he doesn’t mind if I add my two cents. I started playing the game in 2004 (an Atlantic City trip report I may write someday) based mainly on the writings of ESPN’s Bill Simmons, aka ‘The Sports Guy’ (ED: Download Free Podcast), back when he was funny (ED: He’s still funny, you’re just desensitized to it.). Prior to the trip, I taught myself basic strategy by purchasing some software for my PC and playing it until most of the strategy became second nature.
Neither this game nor Bill Simmons, however, could teach me the ‘unwritten rules of blackjack’. Okay, in retrospect, I probably could’ve Googled it, had I known they existed. Heck, I could Google it right now, but then a) I wouldn’t have an article to write or b) my article would clearly be biased by what I’ve read. So, when you’re done reading, feel free to add your own in the comments, but if you think I missed something obvious, now you know why.
- When joining a game mid-shoe, it never hurts to ask the players already in the game if you can join. (ED: I never join mid-shoe and hate when people do)
- If you are dealt a double-down opportunity, it is perfectly acceptable to double your bet by moving your chips into position before it is your turn. There is a slim chance that the dealer has a 10 up card and turns over an Ace, but any good dealer will return your second bet to you while taking your first. Naturally you wouldn’t do this if the dealer was showing an Ace.
- I don’t think there’s any situation where you’d split 5s, but a dealer must ask you if you want to double or split them. Since casinos are noisy (that is why there are hand signals, of course!), you can hold your index finger up, like a 1, meaning ‘1 card’, which is all you get when you double.
- When the first round of cards are dealt, it is nice to wish any players that their Aces become blackjacks/naturals by lightly banging/tapping the table in their direction and saying “Good luck on your Ace”.
- It’s obvious that you can touch your chips after you get paid for a win and normally the dealer takes your chips as soon as you lose. But what about a push? As I learned the hard way, DO NOT touch your chips until the dealer gets to your position and bangs/taps the felt in front of you to signal ‘push’ to the ‘eye in the sky’.
- There are two main ways to tip your dealer: 1) slide a chip into the ‘dealer zone’, that nebulous area best described as “around the insurance line”; a comment like “that’s for you” should convey the message and 2) make a bet for the dealer by placing your chip(s) near your betting stack, akin to the Moon orbiting the Earth.
- In the event of a push, I usually but not always remember to ask the dealer what he/she prefers. Most often, they’ll ‘let it ride’. I don’t think I’ve had anyone take the tip on a push.
- True story: my first or second time playing, a player to my left, during the betting portion, reached over and put singles/whites ‘in orbit’ around all our bets. I had no idea what she was doing. It was only when we all won and I went to take the money that I learned she was tipping the dealer on all our hands. I have never seen this since.
- When coloring up at the end of a session, if I don’t think I’ve tipped enough, I try to remember to keep a red (or two) to the side so it’s not included in the coloring. That way I’m not digging in my wallet for some small bills after being handed a stack of greens and blacks.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
ED: Check out my favorite blackjack/counting app for the iPhone on Get Vegas Apps.
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