When playing blackjack in a real casino, it’s important to be as clear and specific as possible when playing the game, especially if you are at a busy table.
The last thing you want is any confusion when asking for a card, or trying to split or something like that, so the dealer and any other players need to be left in no doubt over what you want to do.
The best way to ensure clarity at all times is to not only say what you want to do, but to use hand signals as well. In this way, no one can misunderstand what you are asking for when it is your turn to play.
These don’t take long to learn but if you have never used them before they might not come naturally until you have put some time in at the tables, so feel free to practice at home if you think you might be intimidated trying it for the first time in front of real people.
A Quick Note on Blackjack Hand Signals
Before we list the different hand signals you will need to know, let’s make the obvious point that these are not required when playing blackjack online.
This may be as obvious as the sky is blue to most readers, but for anyone who is brand new to the game it’s only fair to be clear.
Online RNG games don’t have a dealer and register your decisions when you click the buttons, but even if you are playing at a live casino where there is a dealer, they don’t actually interact with you directly. You tell the computer what you want to do, and the computer at their end tells them whether to hit, split, double, etc.
Secondly, although most Western casinos don’t allow you to touch the cards anymore and deal face up, friendly games or perhaps those played in other countries may do things differently and deal face down.
The hand signals for making decisions are different when the player is allowed to handle the cards themselves, but in this article we will focus on hand signals used in games where the players never have to touch the cards.
We will, however, briefly cover the alternative signals at the end in case you want to play a little differently at home with friends etc.
Blackjack Hand Signal Examples with Images
First of all, before a game begins the dealer will use some hand signals of their own to open betting.
They will sweep their hand across the board from their left to right with an open palm facing upwards, broadly following the pattern of the insurance instructions printed on the felt, to open betting. They will also vocalise this.
Shortly afterwards they will close bets by sweeping their hand back in the opposite direction, with a flat hand facing down. It’s as though they are opening and closing an imaginary door but again, they will vocalise this.
The other thing to note about the dealer is that they will point a finger on the felt in front of the hand that is in play so that everyone knows whose turn it is. So don’t try and do anything until the dealer has their finger in front of your cards.
Hand signals for the player look like this:
Hit Hand Signal
This one is nice and simple.
If you feel like you need another card and want to hit to try and improve your hand, you just need to tap on the table with a single finger just behind your hand.
There isn’t a specifically marked out part of the table for this, so anywhere in the general area behind your cards will be fine.
You just need to do a double tap once the dealer is focussed on you, and they will know what you are asking for and deal you another card.
Make sure to wait for your turn though.
If you want to hit again once a 3rd card has been dealt just do the same again.
Once you are happy with your hand, it will be time to stand.
Stand Hand Signal
Whether you are dealt a good hand to begin with or you have managed to create one by hitting, at some point you will need to stand in order for the game to play out.
To do this, you just have to hold your open hand face down above your cards and move your hand from side to side, like a wave.
Some people hold their hand steady which is also fine, but it’s clearer to put a bit of movement into it.
That said, you don’t need to go mad a wave at the table like a demented aunty, just move your hand from side to side once or twice and the dealer will understand that they should move on to the next player or reveal their hole card, depending on who else is at the table.
Before you get to this point though, you may also want to do one or two other things if your hand allows.
Double Down Hand Signal
In certain situations when the cards are looking strong you may want to make the most of it and double down on your bet.
This costs another bet equal to your initial bet, so the process involves more than just a hand signal.
The first thing you would do is lay down your extra chips, and you would place them next to your initial bet in the same order so that the dealer can see that both stacks are exactly the same.
So if you had a black chip underneath two green chips you would need to place your double bet in the same order, right next to your original bet so the chips are touching or almost touching.
Next comes the hand signal.
It’s already pretty clear what you want to do here, but just so there is no confusion with splitting (coming up next) you would place your index finger on the table next to the extra chips to indicate that you want one extra card.
This is because you obviously only get one more card after doubling – you cannot hit once the extra card has been dealt.
Don’t tap your finger here or the dealer might think you are signalling to hit and assume you don’t understand the rules properly; just place your index finger next to your chips and leave it there.
Split Pair Hand Signal
Similarly to doubling down, before you can signal that you want to split your hand you need to cough up some extra chips to pay for it.
Once again, this must be the exact same amount as your initial bet and arranged in the exact same way too, so the dealer can see that both bets are equal.
Once you have done this you would take your index and middle finger and make an upside down V shape on the table, with your palm facing down and your hand tilted upwards.
This means your hand would not be flat against the table, but angled upwards at around 45 degrees.
This doesn’t have to be exact of course, the dealer isn’t going to whip out a protractor, but something in that general area will indicate clearly what you are trying to do.
You will now have two hands to play and the dealer will point at each of them in turn to make it clear which hand you are playing at the time.
From here you simply follow the same hand signals as above, including doubling if that is allowed after splits at the table you are playing at.
This isn’t always an option but if it is then it’s important to get it right.
Most dealers would prefer a verbal cue for this decision as well as a hand signal, so even if you are the quiet type, if there is one time to definitely vocalise your decision it is when you want to surrender.
There is a hand signal that goes with it though and that is to draw a line underneath your cards.
Some people use a single finger to do this, others use two, and some even use their whole hand, but just make sure that you are clear however you decide to do it.
You are trying to make a cutting motion from right to left if you are using your whole hand, or look as if you are underlining something if you are only using a single finger or two fingers.
This, along with the verbal cue, will be clear to the dealer who will take your bet and give you half back.
Blackjack Hand Signals with Face Down Cards
In games where cards are dealt face down and the player has to pick them up to see their hand, you will obviously have to do things differently as your cards will be in your hand.
Before we get to signals though, remember to pick up your cards with one hand only.
This is to show the dealer (and anyone else who might be watching on a camera) that you are not cheating by swapping cards around, introducing cards you have brought yourself, or altering your bet after you have seen your cards.
Once you have seen your cards, the generally accepted way of doing things – as well as vocalising your decisions of course – are as follows:
- Hit – With the back of your cards facing the dealer, gently scrape the bottom of your cards twice towards yourself against the felt of the table in front of you.
- Stand – Slide your cards face down underneath the chips you have in play to indicate that this is the hand you will play.
- Double – Put your cards face down on the table and add an equal bet to your original bet. The dealer will tuck a card face down under your bet and will only reveal it at the end of the game. You do not touch this card yourself.
- Split – Put your cards face down on the table, showing you have the right to split, and add an equal bet to your initial stake. After the split, continue with the signals as already described.
- Surrender – If this is allowed you place your cards down face up, and draw a horizontal line across the table with your index finger, as though you were cutting or underlining something.
- Blackjack – If you get a blackjack you can actually throw it down immediately, cards face up. The dealer will still only get to you when it is your turn, but you are letting them know that you have won this game.
Once all players have completed their hands the dealer will turn over their hole card before then turning over everyone else’s cards, and then pay out or take their chips as appropriate.
Tipping the Dealer
If you are feeling generous or are having a particularly good time playing and chatting with your dealer, you might decide you want to give them a tip.
To be sure that they understand what you are doing, you will place a chip with a value of your choice in front of your playing and betting area.
Make this distinct from your bet though or the dealer might not feel comfortable taking it, for example if it is slightly touching the drawn line of your betting area they may think you have just been sloppy in placing a bet.
You can also simply tip when you leave the table if that is what you would rather do, and in this case just place the tip in front of where you had been playing as previously described. There should be no confusion here as you will also be standing up to leave the table.
Another option that some places allow is to play a hand for your dealer, whereby you place a bet on an empty space at the table and play the hand as normal, but any winnings are collected by the dealer personally.
You will have to explain what you are doing though if you want to do this, as there is no real way to indicate it using a hand signal or chip placement.