Dealers call these
2 July 1999
By Mark Pilarski
I hate gambling with my cousin. Not only is he
irritating to other players on the table, he is
very abusive to the dealer. You have no idea how
many times the dealer has to tell him, could you
please do this, don't do that. How about some
written table manners I can pass his way? Janie
A front-line employee of a casino, Janie, must
obey two rules when it comes to customers-even
your cousin. One, the player is always right,
and two, if the player is wrong, see rule number
one. Not easy when a decent percentage of
players are running on high octane drinks and
losing money. And though Bozo players (what we
would call your cousin) get their fair share of
negative commentary in the employee breakroom, a
dealer who lashes out at any customer would be
But me, I've been paroled from my 18-year casino
sentence, so I can dole out some table etiquette
without repercussion. Here goes.
Know the proper hit/stand signals for the
blackjack game you're playing.
In baseball, it's two hands for beginners; on a
live blackjack game, the opposite. Some casinos
are real touchy-feely (throw you out) about you
doing anything funny to the cards.
Once you've placed your wager, don't touch your
bet until you get paid.
If the cards are running against you, don't keep
asking for a new deck. If you don't like your
cards, move to another table.
Expect with abusive language an early departure
from the casino.
Don't ask the dealer what her hole card is.
Dealers won't risk their job over your wager.
There's nothing wrong with asking for advice,
but not after the dealer looks under her
If you lose several hands in a row, don't accuse
the dealer of cheating. Most (99.999%) don't.
It's most likely a bad run of cards plus let's
not discount poor play. Also, abusing "the
messenger" for crummy cards lacks any form of
If you're using a basic strategy card
(recommended), don't refer to it each and every
hand. You should have a basic understanding on
how to play most of your hands well before you
sit down on a game.
Using these lines? "Are you going to be nice to
me?" Question is, are you going to be nice to
them. "Where are you from?" It's most likely on
their nametag. "Do you live here?" Yes, we're
not Martians commuting from Mars. Try some other
light conversation. Note: About every recipe I
know, from avocado dip to chicken wings, came
from some customer.
Don't walk up to a dealer and tell him he looks
bored, make him shuffle a 6-deck shoe just to
play one $5 bet, lose, then walk.
When betting for the dealer (worth at least
three separate columns), keep the ratio a
reasonable one. I once had a professional
baseball player betting three hands at $500 a
whack, with just a 50¢ bet for me, the dealer,
every third shuffle. One month earlier he signed
a multi-million-dollar, 5-year contract. His
initials are. I better not.
Once the hand has been completed, don't turn
your cards over to help the dealer. Dealers have
a routine and you're just slowing them down.
Besides, dealers need to spread the cards a
certain way so the cameras can read them.
Finally, dealers really don't care if the sign
outside their casino says "certified friendly
dealers." They just want to be treated like you
would want to be treated.