Gambling Tips > Gambling Manners


By Henry Tamburin

Most novice players are very self-conscious about saying or doing the wrong thing when they gamble. It probably stems from an embarrassing situation they once had like being admonished by a blackjack dealer for touching the cards or receiving icy glares from fellow craps players when the dice touched their dangling hand. Even slot players come under scrutiny from other players especially when they try to play ‘their machine’. Although most of the codes of casino behavior are covered by rules and regulations there are still plenty of unwritten ones – the ones that you won’t find in casino pamphlets or books that have evolved over time and have become the modus operandi for casino players. For example, take a simple thing like talking to or jostling a hot craps shooter. There is no casino rule that says you can’t, but if do, you will be committing a major faux pas in craps.

What follows are the dos and don’ts of casino manners for novice players. Hey, even if you are seasoned veteran, it won’t hurt to brush up on your casino manners to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.


Before you sit down and play any table game, always check the placard located somewhere on the table that tells you the table minimum and maximum bets. Nothing can be more embarrassing and annoying to other players when a player buys in to a game, makes a first bet of $5, and then is told by the dealer pointing to the placard, “Sir, the minimum bet is $25”.

You must convert cash to casino chips when you play table games. When you buy-in keep in mind that dealer’s are not allowed to take cash directly from your hand. Always place your money on the table and ask the dealer for chips. When you are finished playing and want to convert your smaller denomination chips to larger ones, wait for a pause in the action before you ask the dealer to color you up.

Don’t place any objects such as purses, wallets, or bags, anywhere on the playing table. Drinks are OK as long as you use the drink holders that are provided to players (i.e. spilling a drink on a table will cause chaos, a hold up in play, disgruntled players and employees, and embarrassment so be extra careful with drinks).

As a general rule, do not touch the chips that you have wagered once the playing round has started. Likewise, don’t touch your winning chips until after the dealer collects all losing bets and pays off winners.

Loud abusive language and temper tantrums when you are losing are verboten. And don’t blame the dealer for your bad luck or accuse them of cheating. Most likely you are just having a bad run which happens when you gamble.

Yes, drinks are free for all players in a casino but it’s common courtesy to tip the cocktail waitress that brings your free drink. Likewise, if your dealer has been friendly and helpful and made your playing experience enjoyable, thank him/her by leaving a tip (or make a bet for the dealer).

Don’t take your children into a casino to watch ‘the action’. This is most annoying to serious players. Plus, in most gaming jurisdictions you are not allowed to bring children into the casino (they don’t belong there anyway). If you have teenagers, be mindful of the minimum age requirements for players (usually 21 years old). And if you disobey the rules and junior gets lucky and hits a big slot jackpot, don’t be too surprised if the casino doesn’t payoff (because he is under age the casino is not obliged to pay).


An empty chair doesn’t always mean an open spot. Check to be sure an adjacent player isn’t playing two spots. On the other hand, if you are playing two spots and the tables are crowded and someone is anxious to play, be courteous and give up one of your betting spots to the new player.

Don’t hog the table and use a vacant chair adjacent to you as a foot stool or arm rest. Chairs are for players only although when the casino isn’t crowded, it’s usually OK for a spouse or friend to sit at an adjacent chair to watch you play.

Don’t join a game in the middle of a shoe unless you ask your fellow players if it’s OK to do so. Many players believe that a new player who joins a game in mid-shoe will disrupt the flow of the cards (even though there is no basis for this). Actually it’s a good idea to wait till the shuffle to buy-in.

Make sure you use the correct hand signals for hitting and standing (please don’t say ‘hit me”). In shoe games where all the player cards are dealt face up do not touch the cards. In single deck pitch games, only handle the cards with one hand and always keep the cards over the table where the dealer (and the eye in the sky) can see them. Also, if you are dealt a blackjack hand or your hand busts (i.e. totals over 21), immediately place the cards face up on the layout.

Offer playing advice to other players only when asked. Do not criticize or demean the playing decisions of fellow players. It’s their money and they have the right to play their hand as they wish. If you are dissatisfied with how another player is making his/her playing decisions, then leave quietly and play elsewhere.

Once you make a bet and the cards are dealt, do not touch the chips that you have wagered. When you double down or pair split, place your secondary wager next to (not on top) of the original wager. If you are wagering several chips of different denomination, stack them neatly in the betting spot so that the lower denomination chip is placed on top of the higher denomination chip (e.g. for a $30 wager place a red chip on top of a green chip).

Although it’s OK to use a basic strategy card when you play, don’t refer to it on each and every hand. This slows down play and can annoy other players (you should be familiar with most of the strategy anyway before you sit down and play).

If you are a novice blackjack player it’s best not to sit at third base (last position to receive a card before the dealer). Many experienced blackjack players mistakenly believe that a wrong play made by the third base player can effect the outcome of the dealer’s hand and potentially lead to player losses. Disgruntled players often will make comments to third base players when this happens (which is itself bad manners).


Always buy-in to a craps game before the shooter gets the dice. Remember that the dealer can not take any money directly from a player so place your money on the layout and ask the dealer for chips. When you are ready to color up, wait for a pause in the action before you carefully stack your chips on the layout in front of you.

The number seven is an unmentionable number at the crap table so don’t even think about saying “it”. If you are a don’t bettor, never, ever cheer for the seven. If you are crazy enough to want to bet on the seven (it’s a prop bet with a very high casino edge), refer to it as ‘big red”.

When the shooter is ready to roll the dice, avoid leaning over the table or dangling your hands over the table area. If you do, the dice may hit your hand and veteran players believe this will result in bad luck. Likewise do not throw money on the layout to buy-in or talk to, touch, or jostle a shooter who is on a hot roll (again experience players believe this will break his concentration and the hot roll will come to an end).

If you are shooting the dice, avoid hitting other player’s chips on the layout or the dealer stack of chips and make sure the dice hit the back wall. Don’t take a lot of time setting the dice before you toss them. If you want to set the dice, practice beforehand so that when the dice are given to you by the stickman you can quickly arrange them. Always keep the dice in full view of the dealers (i.e. never cup them or shake them below table level). If you toss the dice and one or both rebound off of the table, shout out “same dice” (again experience players believe that if that new dice are put into play bad things will happen). Also, if a shooter loses on a throw of the dice and you win, it’s rude to gloat or comment on how he/she should have bet.

Try to avoid muscling your way into a crowded table. It’s also not a good idea to elbow your way to the left side of the shooter (so you will get the next turn throwing the dice).

All wagers from the Come/Don’t Come betting area toward the stickman and players are made by the player except the center proposition bets (that includes the come, don’t come, pass line, don’t pass, odds, field bet, and Big 6/8). If you want to bet on any of the point numbers, place your chip on the layout and ask the dealer to make those wagers for you (but be patient and wait your turn – dealers have a lot going on).

Always make your bets while the stickman has the dice in the center of the layout (not when he is pushing the dice to the shooter). If you want to make a proposition bet (wagers in the center of the layout), carefully toss your chips to the stickman with clear instructions on how much you want to bet and where (don’t haphazardly throw your chips in the center prop betting area where they can roll over the place, rather learn how to “spin” the chips on the layout so they won’t roll). If you are a don’t bettor, it’s best to position yourself next to either dealer so you can easily reach the don’t pass and don’t come betting areas (and remember never to root for the unmentionable number and never cheer when you win).


Space is limited around a roulette table so don’t try to muscle your way in. Do not lean over another player to make your bets. If you can’t reach ask the dealer to make the bet for you. (Note – if you are at the far end of the table and want to wager on the popular split bet on 0 and 00, just place your chip(s) on the line that separates the “second 12” from the “third 12” on the outside bottom area of the layout).

Special roulette chips are used at each roulette table. You must purchase them when you buy-in. They are color coded so that each player has their own set of colored chips (that makes it easy for the dealer to know whose bet belongs to whom). Roulette chips can not be used anywhere else in the casino and they can’t be converted to cash at the cashier so do not leave the table with them (i.e. they must be cashed in and converted to casino chips at the table where you are playing). Also, do not use roulette chips to tip a cocktail waitress.

Do not pick up winning chips from the layout or start to make bets on the next spin until the dealer has cleared the table of losing bets, paid off the winning bets, and removed the marker off the winning number (this is the number one faux pas in roulette).

Try to avoid waiting until the roulette ball is ready to drop into the bowl to place your bets. If you need help making bets, especially for those out of reach, ask the dealer.

Be very careful how you position your chips on the layout so there is no confusion what bet you are making (this is particular the case for bets straight up on a number where your chip(s) should be placed in the center of the number’s square).

When you are finished playing, tell the dealer you want to color up. Stack your roulette chips neatly (in stacks of 20 chips) and let the dealer drag them across the layout (I once tried pushing them over to the dealer – they are probably still looking for some of those chips that I scattered all over the casino floor). The dealer will count the chips and then give you an equivalent amount in casino chips, which you can use at other table games or take to the cashier.

Slots & Video Poker

If the casino is crowded, it’s common courtesy to play only one machine. Also before you drop your first coin into a machine be sure no one else is playing it (when the casino is not crowded players often toss coins into adjacent machines).

If you hit a hand pay jackpot on a slot machine, after you receive your payoff from the attendant you should play off the winning combination (i.e. play one more spin). It’s also customary to tip a prompt and courteous attendant that brings you the money.

When you need to take a rest room break, you can “hold” your machine by either placing a coin bucket over the handle or on the chair or you can lean the chair against the machine. Likewise if you are looking for a machine to play, avoid playing those which have been held by players.

If a player mistakenly plays “your machine” while you are on break, don’t get upset or abusive at him/her even if they hit the jackpot. Yes, it’s upsetting if this happens but the probability that you would have hit the jackpot even if you stayed and played is slim since you would have had to hit the spin button at the exact same split second as the lucky player did (it was only at that split second that the machine’s internal computer generated that specific winning jackpot combination).

Finally, it goes without saying that you should keep your playing area clean. Don’t throw torn coin wrappers or cigarette buts into the coin trays. This seems trivial but it’s a nasty habit that too many slot and video poker players have developed.