Casino Etiquette: How to Behave in the Casino

Casino Etiquette

One definition of etiquette is "a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group." Some people practice good etiquette and therefore uphold the expected qualities of their society, while others practice bad etiquette and risk confrontations and/or being marginalized within their social group. The latter isn't always done out of malice, however, as a significant number of individuals have either never been taught proper etiquette or learned patterns of behavior from poor role models.

The same modes of behavior discussed above also apply to casino etiquette. Those who follow the expected patterns are likely to receive better treatment both from employees and fellow players, while those who disobey the accepted rules can receive anything from a dirty look to a one-way trip out the nearest exit.

By following the casino etiquette listed in this article, you can at least be certain that any problems experienced during your next gaming session should only be the result of bad luck or bad strategy. We've broken these tips and desired patterns of behavior into multiple categories for your convenience, so all you have to do is find your favorites games and commence reading.

General Casino Etiquette

Most casino games have their own rules of conduct, but there are also some that apply across the entire gaming establishment. Whether you're a gambling rookie or a seasoned pro, we suggest applying the following rules of behavior each time you walk through the doors of a casino.

Know the Rules

Nothing interferes with the flow of a game like a noob who has to constantly ask for instructions. While a certain learning curve is to be expected for beginners, there's a big difference between well-meaning rookies and those who seem positively dense. Before you sit down at a table, it's wise to either study the game online, watch a real-life game from a polite distance, or take advantage of the beginner tables offered at some casinos. Besides not annoying everyone at the table, knowing the rules should also give you a better chance of actually making a profit during your session.

Know the Chip Denominations

Your life at the casino will be much easier if you know how much each chip color is worth. At most establishments, you'll find the chips are valued as follows.

Black Chips
are worth $100
Green Chips
are worth $25
Red Chips
are worth $5

You are always welcome to have a larger chip broken into smaller amounts, but don't ask to have five $5 chips converted into a $25 chip. The only exception to this last rule is when you're cashing out, as dealers prefer that smaller chips are traded in for larger ones.

Be a Considerate Smoker

Some casinos limit smoking to small sections of their establishment, while others allow smokers to inhale their poison anywhere they please. If you partake of nicotine and find yourself in a casino that allows this, try to be considerate to dealers and players who are non-smokers.

When you exhale, make sure you don't blow smoke right into the face of someone else. And when you put out your cigarette, be sure it's entirely extinguished. Otherwise, a thin stream of smoke is likely to rise into the air and right into the personal space of your neighbor. It's been proven that second-hand smoke kills, so try to shave as little as possible off the lives of your fellow gamblers.

Face Up Means Hands Off

In some casino games, you'll receive cards that are facing upwards. In these cases, it's important to remember to keep your hands off the cards. If you fail to do this, expect a verbal warning from the dealer.

Don't Get Drunk

Casinos often provide free drinks to customers in the hope that they'll get tipsy and make poor gaming and money management decisions. While there's nothing wrong with getting a little buzz, you want to avoid becoming so drunk that you annoy the other customers and make a fool out of yourself. You also want to avoid vomiting in the floor or on the tables, as that's a surefire way to get escorted off the premises. Not drinking is the best strategy, but the second best is to stop drinking as soon as you start feeling the effects (even though the latter is sometimes far too late).

Don't Ask the Dealer for Advice

Dealers are happy to answer questions about rules or payouts, it's considered a bad idea to ask them for advice. It puts them in an uncomfortable situation, as they might get blamed by any player who takes their advice and loses. If you're going to risk your own money, then please learn to make your own decisions.

Don't Harass the Employees

People who work at casinos are trying to make a living and support their families, and they're often earning less than many of their customers. It's incredibly bad etiquette to harass these individuals, whether it takes the form of berating a dealer for a losing hand or subjecting the waitress to an uncomfortable level of flirting. The best rule is to treat these individuals the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Don't Touch Wagers

Once a round of play begins, do not place your hands on the wagers. If you break this common sense rule, you could be accused of cheating and ejected from the casino.

The Rules of Tipping

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tipping dealers and casino waitresses. Some players only tip when they're winning, while certain high rollers throw around gratuities like they've got money to burn (which they probably do). Generous customers are known as "live" or "George," while stingy individuals are referred to as "stiffs."

Stiffs don't always irritate dealers, especially if they only want the employee to do their job and deal the cards or spin the wheel. When they want to be talked to and entertained, however, a lack of compensation can elicit a range of negative emotions.

While dealers are a captive audience, cocktail waitresses have a more effective way of showing their disapproval towards stiffs. Those who don't tip for food or drinks are likely to find deliveries becoming increasingly slow. Unless they're surrounded by tipping customers, they may even have trouble finding a waitress to take their order.

When figuring up how much to tip the dealer, one possible formula involves 25% of your success at the table and 75% of the dealer's overall attitude. Even if you're losing more than you win (which is common), you should still consider tipping about half of your wager per hour. Players who are bleeding money at the table, however, are often given a pass when it comes to a gratuity.

For waitresses, a good rule of thumb is $1 for every drink they bring you. This includes everything from hard liquor to bottles of water, and this also assumes that the drinks are complimentary. If you're a high roller, you should tip $5 per drink. If you want to impress the waitress, give her a tip up front instead of holding it over her head.

Another solid option for tipping dealers is to make a 50 cent or $1 wager on their behalf every so often. If you don't know how to wager a tip for a dealer, they'll be happy to show you.

In order to assure continually strong service, it's also a good idea to tip throughout the course of the game. If you plan on waiting until the dealer goes on break to give them money, then don't be surprised if the service up until that point is surprisingly lackluster.

Some casinos require their dealers to share tips, so the best employees wind up making the same amount during a shift as the awful ones. This rule usually only applies to cash tips, however, so there's always the option of giving your favorite dealer a gift certificate, keno ticket, or something else that doesn't have to be divided up.

Blackjack Etiquette

One of the most popular games at any casino, blackjack has a number of unwritten rules of etiquette. If you want to fit in with other players and make everyone's life easier, make sure to adhere to the following.

  • Don't Lecture Players
  • Know the Hand Signals
  • Wait Your Turn
  • Only Use One Hand
  • Don't Whine
Don't Lecture Players

Some players are firm believers in the false notion that a player who hits without cause can screw up everyone else's chances of winning. Even if this happened to be true, it doesn't give you the right to berate a fellow player over how they play their hand. They're paying their own money to participate, so mind your own damn business and worry about your own cards. After all, nobody likes a mouthy jerk.

Know the Hand Signals

Hand signals are often required during a game of 21, as this prevents more duplicitous players from claiming that their verbal instructions were misunderstood. In order to avoid holding up the game, it's wise to learn these signals as fast as possible. For games where cards are dealt face-up, here are the most important ones: tap the table if you want to hit; wave your hand parallel to the table if you want to stand; if you want to split or double down, place your matching wager next to your original bet (but remember not to touch the previous wager).

Wait Your Turn

If a hand is underway when you sit down, wait for it to end before asking to buy into the game. Players and the dealer may become quite irritated if you bumble into the middle of a hand and start distracting those currently engaged.

Only Use One Hand

If you're playing in a game where the cards are dealt face-down, it's important to only touch the cards with one hand. Doing otherwise is likely to elicit a verbal warning from the dealer, which can be more than a little embarrassing at a table filled with people. If you have trouble remembering, try sitting on your weak hand and using only your dominant one.

Don't Whine

Nobody likes a whiner. If you wind up with a bad hand, don't be a baby and carry on about how the universe is conspiring against you. It's also silly to expect sympathy from the dealer, as they see hundreds of people win and lose money every single day. The best course of action is to play your hand like an adult and accept that losing is often part of life.

Baccarat Etiquette

The game of baccarat can range from casual to sophisticated, and the following tips can help you better navigate this favorite game of James Bond.

  • Know the Version You're Playing
  • Dress Appropriately
  • Go with the Crowd
Know the Version You're Playing

Common versions of baccarat include Punto banco, Chemin de fer, and Baccarat Banque. It's essential to know which version you're playing, as each one has decidedly different rules.

Dress Appropriately

Games like EZ Baccarat are intended for casual play, so any sort of clothing is accepted. The high roller versions of baccarat often require a suit and tie, however, so make sure you show up in clothing appropriate for the type of game you wish to play.

If you want to play at the high roller tables, you'll need to look the part. The James Bond look works well.
Go with the Crowd

If all participants are betting on the banker or player, it's a polite gesture to wager with the group. This creates a sense of community, and to do otherwise is considered rude.

Slots & Video Poker Etiquette

Slots and video poker are solitary games, so there isn't a lot of etiquette associated with these options. However, there are a few things to be aware of that can make your experience more pleasant.

  • Don't Steal Someone's Seat
  • Tipping
  • Don't Eyeball Your Neighbor
Don't Steal Someone's Seat

If you come across a machine with someone's purse or belongings sitting in the seat, don't just toss them in the floor and start playing. There's a strong chance that the person went on a bathroom break, and you'll get an earful on their return. If you want to avoid potential trouble or ill feelings, respect their space and look for another machine to play.

Tipping

Since nobody is dealing you cards in these games, tipping works a bit differently. If you're getting a ticket and cashing it in, then don't worry about a gratuity for your win. However, if your win involves a hand pay, then it's a good idea to give the employee 0.5% to 1% of your winnings.

Don't Eyeball Your Neighbor

Some players can get caught up in watching their neighbor play. While some folks enjoy the attention, others find it to be distracting. If you're going to sit at a machine, the polite thing to do is play your game and worry about your own affairs. If you want to watch someone else play, stand behind them at a polite distance and make sure not to impede foot traffic.

Poker Etiquette

Poker is a group game, so it has a number of forms of etiquette associated with it. Here are some of the most common.

  • Know the House Rules
  • Don't Discuss an Ongoing Hand
  • Don't Splash the Pot
  • Don't String Bet
Know the House Rules

Before you sit down at the table, it's important to know the house rules. This can same you some embarrassment in the middle of a hand, and it's also likely to help you avoid losing unnecessary amounts of money.

Don't Discuss an Ongoing Hand

Wait until a hand is finished before talking about it, especially if you've already folded. Otherwise, you may get an earful from one of the players who is still in contention for the pot.

Don't Splash the Pot

"Splashing the pot" means sprinkling your chips onto the table. This is considered rude, as it creates a mess and makes it difficult to determine the size of the pot.

Don't String Bet

A string bet occurs when a player put some chips into the pot, then pauses slightly before adding more money. This is considered illegal, as some players use it to try and determine the reaction of their opponents.

Further Information: The above are just a few simple rules to follow when playing poker in a casino. You can learn more by reading our page detailing how to behave at the poker table.

Roulette Etiquette

Roulette is a community game that often features multiple players participating all at once. In order to maintain harmony, keep the following etiquette in mind.

  • Watch Your Feet
  • Make Bets Quickly
  • Keep Track of Your Chips
Watch Your Feet

Several people can wind up packed around a roulette table, so watch your feet to make sure you don't step on someone.

Make Bets Quickly

The roulette dealers try to keep things moving, so you'll have about a minute to wager between spins. Make your bets quickly and always respect the dealer when he announces "no more bets."

Keep Track of Your Chips

Each player is given chips with a unique color scheme, and it's important to keep track of these during play. You can only wager with the chips of your color, so make sure they don't get mixed up with those of friends, family, or complete strangers.

Craps Etiquette

The game of craps has perhaps the most communal feel of any casino game, so it's always important to observe etiquette to avoid irritating the people standing right next to you. Here are some of the key points to keep in mind.

  • Set Tips on the Table
  • Buying In
  • Shoot Quickly
  • Avoid Seven
  • Keep Drinks off the Table
  • Cheering for Players
Set Tips on the Table

Never hand a tip directly to the dealer. Instead, place it on the table in front of them and announce "for the dealers."

Buying In

If you want to buy into a game, wait until the dice are in the middle of the table. Buying in when a roll is about to occur is considered bad form and will likely get you a number of dirty looks.

Shoot Quickly

Dealers like to keep the action moving, as this allows the house to generate larger profits. When you're the shooter, don't waste time between rolls. Even if you're practicing a strategy such as dice control, you'll need to set the dice and roll as quickly as possible.

Avoid Seven

Never say the word "seven" while at the craps table. It's considered rude and bad luck, and you'll immediately draw the ire of experienced players.

Keep Drinks off the Table

Most tables have a spot underneath for drinks and other items. Holding a drink over the rail is a recipe for potential disaster.

Cheering for Players

It's always considered polite to cheer for players who are enjoying a hot streak, however don't repeatedly yell for them to roll certain numbers that you're betting on. Instead, just send a positive vibe in their direction, and there's nothing wrong with offering a fist bump or high five once their turn is over.

Online Casino Etiquette

Almost none of the information listed above applies to those playing at an online casino. There are no dealers to tip, and most of the time you'll be playing the various game by yourself. This affords a greater degree of independence, allowing you to kick off your shoes, turn up your favorite music as loud as you want, and blow smoke (legal or illegal) anywhere you please.

There is just one rule you should follow when playing online though, and that's to be polite when contacting customer support. You might feel like having a rant after a bad losing session, but remember that customer support staff are there to help you with any queries and not to deal with your outbursts of frustration. In any case, they may have the power to offer you some extra bonuses or other goodwill gestures. And they're far more likely to be generous if you're known to be a friendly customer rather than a rude one.

Summary

Proper casino etiquette is a must for any serious player, especially if you plan on giving repeat business to a particular establishment. A player's reputation quickly spreads among employees and casino regulars, and you can receive a chilly reception if you refuse to adhere to some of the more basic standards of behavior.

Each game has its own rules, but knowing the printed rules isn't enough when it comes to following proper etiquette. Numerous superstitions and quirky codes of conduct have evolved for each game over the decades (sometimes centuries), and adhering to these can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and a stern verbal warning from the house.

Once you've learned the proper way to behave in a casino, you'll find yourself welcomed onto the premises like a member of the family. Dealers will flash a smile and do their best to keep you entertained through hot and cold streaks alike, and waitresses may frequently compete over who gets to serve you. When you reach this enviable level, you'll be able to relax and focus all your energies on walking away a winner (which is another challenge entirely).

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