Gambling Tips > Blackjack

Dealer Mistakes
What Happens When They Occur

By Henry Tamburin

Blackjack dealers are human and sometimes they make honest mistakes. For example, when I was playing blackjack recently the dealer inadvertently gave a fellow player a hit card (which was exposed) even though he had given a hand signal to stand.  What do you think the casino should have done in this situation, especially with the exposed hit card?


To get the low down on what casinos do when dealers err, I interviewed Nick Kallos, who spent 16 years working in the gaming industry before opening the Casino Gaming School of Nevada in Las Vegas 15 years ago ( Kallos is a leading authority on dealing protocols and casino games, and has been featured on the Travel Channel, ABC Prime Time, and Vegas Live. He teaches dealers how to avoid mistakes, and floor supervisors how to correct them if they should occur.


According to Kallos, when a dealer makes a mistake he should never correct it and instead, immediately notify his supervisor, who is the floor person in the pit responsible for that table. It is the floor supervisor who has the responsibility to correct dealer mistakes to the satisfaction of all the players.  The latter is importantbecause it is not in the casinos’ best interest to have dissatisfied customers, who might take their business elsewhere. 


What follows are some dealer mistakes that could occur when you play blackjack and Kallos’s response on how he would correct them. According to Kallos, floor supervisors often consider the size of the player’s wager and whether he is a steady customer into their decision-making process. Therefore, consider the following corrective actions as guidelines.


A player gives the signal to stand, but the dealer gives the player a hit card face up anyway.


The player that gave a clear hand signal to stand does not receive the hit card; however, it should not be burned. Instead, the exposed hit card should be offered to each player in turn. If all the players refuse the card (i.e., they all stand on their initial two-card hand), the floor supervisor should tell the players that if the dealer needs a hit card after he turns over his downcard, the exposed hit card is what the dealer gets.


Players make their bets, and the dealer deals two cards to each player and to himself. Before any player acts on his hand, one of the players brings to the dealer’s attention that he received only one card.


The player should be given the option of either receiving another card and staying in the game, or folding his hand. Because the cards are “out-of-order,” each player in turn should also be given the option of staying or folding. If it’s a single- or double deck-game, the dealer should also reshuffle the cards after the hand is completed.


The dealer forgot to deal himself a downcard and all players have completed their hands.


The dealer should take another card. If a player complains, he should be given the option of staying or folding.


A dealer removes a player’s wager and cards thinking the player busted. After the round is over, the player complains that he didn’t bust and believes he beat the dealer’s hand.


The discards should be backed-up to recreate the previous round to confirm that the player had busted. According to Kallos, this is why it is important for dealers to scoop up the player’s cards in the exact order as they were played so that the cards can be backed-up in case of a dispute.


All the players make their wagers and then the dealer doesn’t deal one player his initial two cards (all the other players received their cards).

The player who did not receive any cards should sit out the hand. The other players should be given the option of either staying or folding.


The dealer exposes both of his cards before the players act on their hand.


In this scenario, the players should be allowed to play out their hand even if they have seen both of the dealer’s cards (it is not the players’ fault that the dealer’s cards were exposed, so the casino takes the hit and allows the players in this round to have a big advantage by having them play their hand knowing what both of the dealer’s cards are).


The dealer forgets to ask the third base player what he wants to do with his hand and instead turns over his downcard. With the dealer cards exposed, the third base player brings to the dealer’s attention that he didn’t give him the opportunity to hit.

Even though the dealer’s two cards are exposed, the third base player should be given a hit card.


The dealer flips over his downcard,, makes an error in adding up his hand total, and mistakenly takes another hit card (this sometimes occurs when the dealer has an Ace).


The exposed extra hit card should be burned and then the cards reshuffled in a single- or double deck-game before the next hand is dealt.


In a single- or double deck-game, the dealer runs out of cards and there are players who still want hit cards.


The dealer should reshuffle the discards and then finish the hands. If a player complains, then option him out of the hand.


Here is another tip from Kallos in case you are involved in a dealing error and are not satisfied with the corrective action taken by the supervisor. You should tell the supervisor in a nice way that you would like to speak to the shift boss to discuss what happened and the decision that was made on the hand.  According to Kallos, the majority of the time the boss will rule in favor of the player to keep a satisfied customer.