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Casino Etiquette

Casino Etiquette

Ok, so you've been in a few casinos in your day. Maybe you've played a boat, an Indian casino, church bingo night, played with your buddies over the weekend, or even played in Nevada or Atlantic City a few times.

Think you're a little bit of a pro? Ready to teach your buddy or ole' Uncle Frank a thing or two next time you are in a casino?

Well, you're NOT!

Now, most dealers and floor supervisors will not correct you if you give some bad advice to your buddy on a table, but if you have a seasoned player on the table, they may tell you, and that can be very embarrassing. (More on bad play later.)

For reasons of applicability, we'll narrow this lesson down to proper general ettiquette on all table games and proper ways to act and bet on 21, also known as blackjack.

Ok, lesson number one; proper table ettiquette. First of all, general definitions. The person standing behind the dealer (usually in a suit) is not a "pit boss", they are Floor Supervisors. So, when you are flailing you player's card and yelling, "Hey, Pit Boss!" you are giving the Floor more credit than they deserve (or most probably want, as well.) Simply give your player's club card to the dealer when you buy in. The Floor will be by to get it at their first chance.

The Pit Boss is someone who is usually called upon only after there has been a problem, and when there is a problem it is almost always The Players Fault. If the Pit Boss cannot fix the problem, then the Shift Boss is called upon. Now, here is a bit of friendly advice. A casino is NOT WalMart, you will not get your way by yelling, and if you are wrong, you are wrong. If a problem even gets to a Shift Manager, simply apologize and accept whatever the Shift Boss says. Otherwise, there is usually only one of two possible outcomes. You go out the door in handcuffs, or you simply go out the door.

Lesson two, DO NOT TRY AND TAKE SHOTS!! What's a shot, you ask? A shot is when something erroneous happens on a game and you try to turn it to your advantage. For instance, let's say a player accidentally signals for a hit when they really wanted to stay, the Floor may allow that to go once, but the card accidentally exposed is still the next card to be dealt. The next player may say, "Well, I want a hit, but not that card." That's taking advantage. The best thing to remember is that a mistake will neither hurt you nor help you, they are always simply corrected, you do not get a special prize because someone else made a mistake. Do not ask, you will not get your way, you will get irritated, as will the dealer and the floor.

Lesson three, Do NOT immediately sit down and cry about cocktails like some cheap screaming banshee!! Cocktails are a service provided so you can have something to drink while you are playing, not a free way to get a buzz. If you're looking to get drunk, sit at the bar, and let the players sit at the tables. The waitress will NEVER be able to get around as often as you require if your goal is to drink as many free drinks as possible. Relax, take your time, enjoy the game. A side note, the cocktail waitress will be around when she gets around, she has a route. Complaining to the dealer, the floor, or the air will not get her to you any faster, but it will place you high on the casinos radar. Leave well enough alone, you will not die from dehydration.

Lesson four, Comps. The 'Comp' is short for complimentary, as a compliment to your level of play. Just because you are sitting in a casino does not automatically qualify you for something free. Especially if you are playing the minimum bet on the minimum table in the casino. I understand that it can sometimes be frustrating that you feel you have earned more than the casino is willing to give you. Here are some things to keep in mind.. Only .20 cents of every $1 that is brought in is profit, the other .80 cents goes right back out. So, factor in the free cocktails, the salary of the floor and pit boss, and your comps, you can start to see why they are not as free as you might think they should be. Sure, these places "make billions of dollars a year", well, so does Coca Cola but you don't get a free 12 pack every other week. Back in the heyday of gambling, the casino would make 80 percent of the day's revenue from gambling, that figure is now down to 50 percent, which is why the shows cost more and the comps aren't as forthcoming. Especially room comps... a room comp is the highest comp to which a casino can offer... you are much better off paying for your room and using your comps for food and entertainment than trying to go for a free stay. Why? Well, a person playing $500 to $1,000 a hand or more is given a free room, now, how would that guest feel if a player playing $15 a hand got the same free room?

Lesson five, Dealers. Dealers generally make the national minimum wage which is currently $5.15 an hour (slightly higher in California), or at best a few bucks more depending on the casino. The dealers make ALL their money from tips from you, the player. So remember, the dealer is on your side, they do not want to take your money, they do not get a commission, and they really don't like to be abused by the losing player. If you are losing, jump to two hands, drop out a hand, or simply CHANGE TABLES, but do not sit there and abuse the dealer and lose all your money. That's a no win situation for everyone, not to mention probably not too much fun for you, the player.

Finally, basic strategy for 21, and it's applicability to the rest of the table. Basic strategy is pretty simple, it starts by assuming that the dealer's hole card is a value 10 card, so the card you see plus 10 is the amount you think the dealer has. If you can bust and the dealer has less than 7, do not take a card. Sure, there is more to it as far as splitting and doubling down, asking for insurance, etc... it's a losing battle to try and second guess basic strategy unless you can count down a deck, and most of you don't even know what that means. A lot of people try to guess how many face cards there are on the layout, and maybe take a hit when basic strategy says they shouldn't. Wrong. Basic strategy has been designed with your hand versus the dealers hand only, it is irrelevant what anyone else on the table has. Although some players may get upset with what you do, it is also important to note that what you do really does not effect them in any way, bad play is simply a statistical non-event.

Well, that's enough chastising for now, please remember that kindness and civility will get you a lot farther than acting like a jack-off, and relax, enjoy the games, and have a good time!!

E-mail if you have some insights you'd like to share...
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