Casino Etiquette

By Ben Hamill - May 22 2016

Casino’s want your business. Therefore, it would stand to reason that they’ll put up with a lot in terms of different kinds of behavior. This is true…..the people who work at the casino are there to make sure that you have a good time and — most importantly — that you return.

But playing with casino etiquette can go a lot way towards making your gaming event more enjoyable and more successful. Everyone benefits when you adhere to the rules of gambling protocol. Not only that, but the dealers and other casino staff are more likely to pay more attention to your needs when they see that you’re trying to gamble according to accepted norms.

Beginning gamers can be forgiven for lapses in casino etiquette but the casino staff expects players to quickly catch on to what is expected. The casino might offer gaming instructions, tours and other assistance for beginners as well as a “beginner’s table” where you can real money games to get your feet wet. If the casino that you’ve chosen to visit offers these amenities, take some time to avail yourself of the opportunity to learn more about how to play at the casino. You might also budget an hour or two of your time to observe the games and get a better idea of accepted casino behavior.

Casino Behavior

Some of the basic norms of casino etiquette include:

    • Leave your cell phone at home or, at least, in your purse. You won’t be able to talk on your cell phone anyway, as the casino’s walls are so thick that you won’t get any reception.
    • Check out the betting minimum and maximum bet at a table before you sit down. Most casino tables feature a little placecard that offers this information. Be prepared to abide by these limits before you sit down. The middle of the deal is no time to determine that you want to play for lower-stakes than the featured game.
    • Keep track of your chip values. There’s nothing more annoying than sitting with someone who is constantly trying to remember which chips are worth what value. Red chips equal $5, Green chips are valued at $25 and black chips are worth $100. Dealer will be happy to make change for large denomination chips but will look askance at being asked exchange a bunch of small denomination chips for larger chips (for instance, being asked to exchange five red chips for a green one)
    • Go ahead and ask the dealers to change in stacks of chips between hands, but it’s extremely poor taste to ask the dealer to do that in the middle of a hand.
    • Tip generously. Regardless of whether you’re winning or losing, you should tip the dealer and the cocktail waitress. Cocktail waitresses should receive $1 per drink and the dealer should receive approximately one half of your average bet per hour.
    • Don’t count your cash at the tables (or any other open space). Aside from the issue of etiquette, you may attract pickpockets or scam artists.
    • It’s considered poor casino etiquette to use both hands to handle face-down cards. Don’t touch cards that are dealt face-up at all. After you’ve received your first card you should refrain from touching the chips that you wagered. Wait until after the hand is over.
    • Don’t ask the dealer for advice. The dealer is there to make sure that you have the most user-friendly experience possible. If you take the dealer’s advice and lose your play, guess who gets blamed? The one exception is pai gow poker, where it is acceptable to ask the dealer “how would you play the hand according to the “house way.”
  • Don’t handle your chips that you’ve wagered while the game is still in progress. This rule was instituted to prevent people from adding or taking away chips when they were winning or losing. There are ways to maximize a win during a game — if, for instance, you’re playing blackjack and appear to be winning you can double your game by placing a new chip by your initial bet.
  • Make any transactions at the tables in full view of the security cameras. You can’t hand bills to the dealer. Place the bill on the table where the cameras can clearly see the denomination. Then the dealer will be able to exchange your money for casino chips.
  • Learn the signals of your game. In a game like blackjack, you need to make hand signals to indicate your next play. This is done so that there won’t be any dispute about what was said — the player can’t claim that he said “stand” when he really said/meant “hit me.” The hand signals protect the casino by ensuring that everyone, including the camera, can see what the player indicated. By learning the hand signals before the game, you won’t hold up the other players as you give your directions of how you want to play your hand. For example, in variations of blackjack in which the cards are dealt face-up:
    • To indicate that you want a hit — tap the table
    • To indicate that you want to stand — wave your hand parallel to the table with your palm open
  • Playing slots with the auto-play feature makes it easy to play several games at once. Make sure that you’re not hogging the machines. If you see people waiting to play, pick one machine and let the other players have a turn.

In general, behave politely and in the spirit of cultured entertainment when you’re at a casino. Casinos strive to create an atmosphere in which players can relax and play without getting involved in disputes or stressful situations. Wear nice clothes, don’t smoke in someone else’s face, don’t push for the slot machines and you can expect the same of other gamers.

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