Blackjack is hands-down one of the most in-demand casino games. While most blackjack variants follow the same set of fundamental principles, the experiences of playing them online and in land-based casinos can be quite different.
In contrast to an online casino setting, the atmosphere in a physical casino can quickly get crowded and noisy, making it difficult for the dealer to hear and understand the players. For this reason, most casinos require that players use specific hand signals to indicate their moves.
If you’re new to playing blackjack in a brick-and-mortar casino, we highly recommend that you learn these gestures before your next session. This guide will tell you all about the hand signals in face-up and face-down blackjack and clarify most of the confusion players commonly have about blackjack etiquette.
What are the hand signals for blackjack?
Hand signals in blackjack are fairly simple but they do vary slightly depending on which variant of the game you are playing. Depending on whether you are playing face-up or face-down blackjack at the casino, the standard hand signals are as follows.
Hand signals in face-up blackjack
The hand signals can vary a bit, so we’ll start with face-up blackjack, also known as double exposure blackjack. The distinctive feature of this variant is that both of the dealer’s cards are face-up, in contrast to other casino blackjack games in which one of the dealer’s first two cards is face-down.
Here are the hand signals you would use during the game:
- Hit — To signify that you want another card, gently tap on the table or point to your cards using your index finger.
- Stand — To let the dealer know that you want to proceed with the cards you have, simply wave your hand over those cards with your palm facing down.
- Double down — To double your bet and request another card, pick up the same amount in chips as your original bet and place them next to the pile already on the table. Then, tap the table using only one finger.
- Split — To split your pair of cards into two hands and double your bet, place a matching pile of chips next to your original bet and put two fingers on the table without touching the cards.
Remember that, whatever you do, you should never touch the cards. The same goes for the chips you’ve bet unless you want to pick up your winnings after the round has finished.
Hand signals in face-down blackjack
In contrast to face-up blackjack, face-down blackjack variants see the dealer deal the players’ cards facing the table. Players then pick them up and hold them in their hands, which is not something you can do in face-up blackjack.
Because of this difference, the hand signals differ, as well. Here is what you should do to signify each of the actions in face-down blackjack:
- Hit — Scrape the table with your cards by pulling them toward yourself.
- Stand — Without moving or touching the chips, place your cards underneath them.
- Double down/split — Put another pile of chips next to your original bet and hold up one finger if you want to double down, two fingers to split.
Why use blackjack hand signals?
The need for hand signals in live blackjack may confuse some players, especially if they’re used to playing blackjack online. However, these gestures exist for some solid reasons:
- They help avoid confusion — Blackjack tables in real casinos can often get crowded, and the noise from the bustling atmosphere can make it difficult for the dealer to understand or even hear the players. Therefore, recognizable and universal hand signals avoid confusion and, hopefully, any mistakes.
- They speed up the gameplay — Blackjack is a fast-paced game that can slow down needlessly if the players need to verbalize what they want to do. Hand signals take less time, speeding up the game and making it flow more smoothly.
- They facilitate dispute resolution — In some instances, disputes may arise about a player’s action during a game round. With hand signals, the security footage can show what happened, as opposed to verbal signals.
Other rules and etiquette for live blackjack
Now that we’ve established that using hand signals is the proper way to play live blackjack, let’s explore some of the other rules and behaviors that you’ll want to adopt:
- Put your money on the table — Many players make the mistake of handing their money to the dealer when they want to buy chips. This is not a welcome move, as the security cameras need to record the exact amount the player has invested. Therefore, you should place your money on the table so the dealer can spread it out, count it and then hand you the corresponding number of chips.
- Organize your chips according to the denomination — When you place your bet in a designated area of the table, you should set the highest denomination chips first and then put the lower-denomination ones on top. This helps the dealer see your bet clearly and pay you out quicker.
- Mind the hands — As we’ve already mentioned, you should never touch your cards in face-up blackjack. Likewise, if you’re playing the face-down variant, you should only pick up the cards using one hand. This rule aims to prevent players from tampering with the cards and ensure the cameras can see the cards. We should also note that, once you’ve placed your bet, you’re not allowed to touch your chips until the game round has finished.
- Don’t disturb other players — Inappropriate behavior such as yelling and swearing is not welcome at the table, of course. Additionally, expressing unsolicited opinions on someone else’s gameplay choices is not something you should do, either.
- Feel free to tip the dealer — Tipping the dealer is a widespread practice in land-based casinos, as most dealer earnings come primarily from tips. While you may not be motivated to tip when you find yourself on a losing streak, you’ll definitely want to treat the dealer when luck is on your side.
What happens if you forget to use a hand signal?
Even when you’ve learned all of the hand signals for blackjack, participating in a live game for the first time can seem confusing and overwhelming. The fear of making a mistake can easily creep in, especially if the game moves quite fast and the rest of the players seem to know what they are doing.
However, you have nothing to worry about — no one will reprimand or remove you from the table if you forget to use a hand signal. Instead, the dealer should kindly remind you about the correct way to play. Still, make sure you do come prepared, having learned the hand signals and, preferably, practiced a bit.
Does live dealer online blackjack use signals?
Playing live dealer blackjack in legal online casinos is different from playing the game in a land-based venue. The software acts as an intermediary between the player and the dealer, facilitating communication via virtual controls and removing the need for hand signals.
However, you can still see the dealer make hand signals for “open bets” and “close bets.” These are more of a habit and an aesthetic touch than a necessity since all the relevant information about the game will appear on your screen.