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Best of John Grochowski
Casino procedures25 May 2010
It seems like a lifetime ago, but in the early days of legalized gambling's move into markets outside Nevada and New Jersey I was talking with a long-time casino executive, one who had made a career in Nevada but now was on of those new-fangled riverboats.
I asked if the move into new markets had forced changes in procedure.
"We've had to understand that many of our customers are in a casino for the first time," he told me. "We have to make allowances. It used to be that in a face-up blackjack game, if a player touched his cards, we were told to slap his hands. Now, we'll warn him, 'Sir, please don't touch your cards.' We have to be more customer friendly."
The hand-slaps are gone, but casino operators still don't want you to touch the cards when they're dealt face up. You can pick up the cards when they're dealt face down, as in most single-deck and double-deck blackjack games.
We all had to pick up on those little procedures when we started playing in casinos, and sometimes have to pick up on a new wrinkle when we try a new game:
** Stack chips with the highest denominations at the bottom. I once saw a player using his last few $1 chips before leaving the table make a bet of $138. His stack put a $1 chip on top, then $100, then $5, $1, $25, $1 and $5. Before dealing the cards, the dealer rearranged with the three $1 white chips on top, then the two red $5 chips, the green $25 chip and finally, the black $100 chip on the bottom. The dealer, pit supervisor and surveillance all want a stack that's easy to read at a glance.
**In blackjack, use hand signals to indicate whether you want to hit or stand in a face-up game. If cards are dealt face down, slide the cards under your bet if you want to stand, or hold the cards in one hand and scratch the table with them if you want to hit. The eye-in-the sky needs the visual cues — surveillance can't hear you tell the dealer you want a hit.
**Whether the game is single-deck blackjack, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud or any other game in which you are permitted to pick up your cards, use just one hand. It's an anti-cheating safeguard for the casino.
**At roulette, don't make a new bet until dealer has finished paying off the winners and sweeping the losers off the table. I once had a winning five-chip bet on black, which the dealer paid with a stack of five chips right next to my bet. I picked up the winnings and left the bet on the layout for the next time. Problem: The dealer hadn't finished paying off all bets, and I'd removed his visual cue that he'd already paid me. Neither he nor his supervisor were pleased. Wait till the marker on top of the winning number has been removed before you get into the next round of betting.
**Also at roulette, exchange roulette chips for regular casino chips before you leave the table. Each player is given his or her own color chips for their stay at the table, and the player may designate chip value when they buy in. I might give the dealer $40 for 40 blue chips, designating them as worth $1 apiece. Later, you might come along and buy in for a larger amount, and designate them as worth $2. Each color might have several different values over the course of the day. The cashier's cage has no way of knowing the value during your table stay, so your roulette chips have no value at the cage. Have the dealer exchange them for casino chips before heading for the cashier.
**At craps, you may make pass or don't pass, come or don't come, and field bets yourself by placing chips in the appropriate spot on the layout in front of you. You may also back your own pass or don't pass bets with free odds. Anything else, and you need to place the chips on the layout and have a dealer make the bet for you. With a place bet on 6, for example, the dealer will move the chips to the number 6 in a position that designates your spot at the table — it's how they keep all the bets straight. Do not hand the chips to the dealer — dealers are not allowed to take anything out of your hands. Place the chips on the layout.
**At any table game, put the cell phone away while you're playing. If you need to make a call, step away between hands — the dealer will mark your place until you return. Casinos REALLY don't want to see you on the phone during blackjack play, where players have tried everything from simple strategy advice from an outside source to having a confederate try to spot the dealer's hole card from a different angle.
What happens if you stray from the procedures set by the casino? A request, friendly at first, that you get in step. No slap on the hand, but rules are rules.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John Grochowski