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Nate drops by to give us what may be the most valuable article on Robot Panic. I’ve always wanted to know the nuances of this game in a casino setting and have always been too afraid of pissing someone off to try it. If you’re like me, than this is the article for you!
Article by: Nate Serefine
Save your scoffing. Yes, you probably know how to play blackjack. More accurately, you know the rules of blackjack. Knowing the rules will suffice if you’re playing cards with your friends. But only knowing the rules will earn you the distain of your tablemates at a casino. Blackjack has many nuances when played in a casino and you’d do yourself a favor if you learn these before you sit down, cowboy.
But what makes me qualified to tell you, fellow reader? I learned the hard way. I sat down without knowing anything other than the rules and through years of playing learned all the ins and outs of the game. Here’s a quick run-down that will have you playing relaxed and confident so that the hot cocktail girl will ask for your number, not ask you to leave.
Know the rules: If you haven’t played at a particular casino before, learn the house rules. You wouldn’t think there are a whole hell of a lot of ways to play blackjack, but you’d be surprised. Does the dealer have to hit on soft-17? Can you split aces more than once? Is there a kicker side bet? Watch a few hands before you jump in. Ask the dealer to explain the house rules if you need to, but they should be printed on the playing area somewhere.
Ask before you play: Blackjack players can be very superstitious. One of the best things to learn is that you’re not only playing against the dealer. What you do affects everybody else on the table and people get touchy when you’re screwing with their bets. Many players don’t like to start playing mid-shoe (that big plastic thing that the dealer draws the cards from) and they don’t like it when other people do it either. If they have a good streak going, they think adding another player will mess up the order the cards are drawn. Ask before you sit down. Or just sit down and say you’re waiting for the next shoe.
Know the positions: Don’t sit at the far end of the table by the dealer’s right side (the last player to act every hand) unless you know what you’re doing. This is called the anchor or third base. This player has more control over the dealer’s draw card than anyone else, and therefore, can control the outcome of the game more than anyone else. If you have to sit at third base, ask if people mind.
Punch your weight: If you see big bets on the table and you’re just going to play $5 a hand, you might want to find a different table. It’ll be a more enjoyable experience for everybody.
Don’t touch your cards: Just…just don’t touch them. I know it’s hard to break the habit if you’re a poker player or something, but let the dealer do their job. Don’t. Touch. The. Cards.
Use hand signals: Casinos have cameras for a reason. They keep everything on the level. The dealer needs you to use hand signals to tell them what you want to do since the cameras can’t hear what you’re saying. Tap the table if you want another card, wave your hand if you don’t want anything else, spread your index and middle fingers apart if you want to split, or place your index finger next to your hand if you want to double down. And have your bet ready if you’re splitting or doubling. Place that next to your original bet, not on top of it. Again, this is what the dealer gets paid for.
Know the superstitions: I touched on this before, but there are a lot more superstitions out there. Signal good luck to your fellow players by hitting your knuckles on the table a few times when they have an ace showing. I know it sounds confusing, but watch other people. When the dealer has the new shoe shuffled and ready to be cut, only take the cut-card (usually red or yellow plastic used to cut the deck and signal a new shoe) if the dealer or another player offers it. Again, watch someone else do it, first.
Respect the dealer’s job: The dealer can’t take money from you in any form. If you want to buy chips, lay cash on the table in front of you. If you want to color-up, place your chips on the table in front of you and ask to be colored-up. The dealers will count everything out, so don’t waste anyone’s time by doing it yourself. And tip them once in awhile. Just place a chip (it doesn’t have to be anything much) in front of your betting circle after a hand and say it’s for them. It’s just a nice gesture for their hard work.
Have fun: You shouldn’t gamble because you need the money. If you’re not there for fun, you’re ruining everyone else’s fun. Don’t be a sore loser or a sad bastard if you’re down a few bucks. If you want to go pound whiskey and fritter away your child support payments, go play video blackjack.
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but with the tips listed here, you should be able to walk into a casino and play a pretty respectable game of blackjack. Assuming you do know the rules, of course.