Recently, we’ve posted several articles discussing several subjects that are of interest to anyone seeking to become a high level blackjack competitor. This article, however, is something that everyone can benefit from regardless of competitive level. That being said, when we speak of ‘conducting yourself at the blackjack table’ we’re primarily thinking of an ‘advantage player’ or high level card counter seeking to fly ‘under the radar’ in the casino. Logically, you’d think that this type of discussion would be unnecessary–if you’ve got good blackjack skills who cares *how* you behave? Assuming you don’t do something that will get you kicked out why does it matter?

The reality, however, is that it does matter. Casinos aren’t hospitable to players that can beat them. This obviously includes ‘cheaters’ but it also includes players that are skilled enough to beat them ‘on the square’. If a casino gets the idea that you’ve ‘got the edge’ they’ll take measures to counter it–extra shuffles, etc. More likely, they’ll show you the exit and warn you to stay away. In some less civilized jurisdictions, you could even get ‘roughed up’ by security personnel though that’s unlikely to happen anywhere in the United States.


For that reason, you need to start early in your blackjack career and learn how to ‘blend in’ with the rest of the casinos patrons. Brad Pitt has a great line in the first ‘Oceans Eleven‘ remake where he tells Matt Damon ‘you want them to like you and then forget about you’. What that means is that you want to come off as likable and not particularly distinctive. If you do it right, the dealer or pit boss will think that you’re just another guy at the table and not really significant enough to ‘keep an eye on’. At a more advanced level, this means you have to maintain a very tricky balance–paying attention to everything at the table while acting like you don’t care.

This is a very advanced skill but even at the outset you can start to develop what I call ‘negative presence’. When someone is said to have ‘presence’ it means that they’re able to get noticed with little effort in any circumstance. It’s the sort of charisma that rock stars and supermodels have–even if they’re at the grocery store they’ve got ‘that certain something’ that people notice. ‘Negative presence’ is just the opposite–it means that you blend in with the crowd and don’t ‘stick out’ for any arbitrary reason.


The best advice I can give for your behavior at the blackjack table is to ‘be cordial’ to the dealer and other players but don’t ‘try to hard’. Assuming that you haven’t made a fundamental mistake (like wearing a t-shirt that says “I (heart) card counting” chances are that you’ll just be another player at the table during a dealer’s shift. At this point, just behave like a ‘normal person’ would at the blackjack table. Some players might be ‘chatty’ but no one really likes this. You don’t want to be rude to other players but don’t go out of your way to engage them in conversation. Dealers usually won’t look to engage in extended conversation. If you’re a generous tipping ‘regular’ they may try to be ‘your buddy’ but most blackjack dealers will be cordial but reserved. Respond in kind–cordial but reserved. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut but don’t be rude.

There are some circumstances where you *want* to stand out to ‘create a distraction’. This assumes that you’re working with someone else or a team and that you want to deflect attention from whatever they might be doing–cashing chips, counting cards or whatever. This is high level stuff, however, and is a lot more difficult than it sounds. When you’re first ‘learning the ropes’ and honing your blackjack skills this won’t be an issue. It’s never too soon to start learning how to ‘blend in’ in a casino and at a blackjack table with your persona and behavior.