YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BLACKJACK DEALER

If you spend enough time in casinos you’ll notice an interesting phenomenon–no one knows how to treat the blackjack dealer. Some players never shut up and try to become friends with their dealer. Other players treat the dealer with less deference than a janitor or busboy. Neither extreme is good form for different reasons. So how should you treat your blackjack dealer? Is he a servant? Are you pals? The good news is that it’s not hard to define the right balance of distance and familiarity.

It’s not difficult to establish the right type of relationship with your dealer and making it even easier is that the rules are the same no matter where you’re at in your blackjack career. As a beginner, knowing how to deal with the dealer is part of learning good blackjack etiquette. As you advance in your career, knowing proper blackjack form will help you ‘blend in’ and not be singled out as a ‘card counter’ or advantage player.

TREAT THE DEALER LIKE THE GUY THAT CUTS YOUR HAIR

I’ll preface this by saying that this isn’t entirely correct. In the ‘old days’ many barbers would talk your ear off and subject you to their opinion on everything under the sun. Fortunately, we live in a more civilized time. You’ll sometimes encounter hair stylists that don’t maintain the proper level of professionalism but you’ll also run into dealers that also have the same behavioral liabilities. We’ll talk about how to respond to ‘problem’ dealers in a future article but for now we’ll speak in general terms about how you can expect your dealer to behave and how you should behave in response.

The dealer is like any other casino employee–he’s there to serve a function and to provide a certain level of customer service. He’s also trying to maintain a balance between being aloof or overly gregarious. If he starts to become to chummy with the players, he could be perceived by management as not being ‘objective’ in his dealing. On the other hand, if he doesn’t interact positively with the players at his table he risks being labeled as ‘rude’ or not upholding the property’s standard of customer care. Either extreme can hurt his career. For that reason, the best dealers are cordial but reserved. If you ask them a question they’ll answer. If you want to engage them in some chit chat they’ll reciprocate until it’s time to deal the cards again. He’ll do his job and assuming he holds up his end he should be tipped. There are several ways to tip a dealer and they’ll be discussed in a future article.

BE POLITE, BUT LET THE DEALER DO HIS JOB

The best blackjack dealers are experts at maintaining a positive ‘vibe’ at the table. It’s not overly boisterous but generally fun and upbeat. If the mood seems ‘down’ or players have been losing a good dealer is able to raise the energy. It’s an acquired skill but an important one. The dealer works on tips and if players aren’t having a good time it hurts his bottom line. For that reason, dealers can adapt their personality and level of decorum to match that of the players at the table–at least to some extent. If a dealer is having a bad day, is having trouble at home or is otherwise in a bad mood it’s not unusual to see a floor manager pull him off and suggest that he go home until he can get things in order.

A good dealer knows the right way to behave and how to maintain an upbeat mood at the table. In general, you can just follow his lead. If he wants to talk you don’t necessarily need to match him topic for topic but at least act interested. If he doesn’t have much to say don’t take it personally–he’s got a lot going on. A bigger concern than his ability to conduct the game and keep it moving along is far more important than personality.