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Blackjack players rant about their pet peeves

By Henry Tamburin

hateIn my column in the October 2015 issue of Casino Player, I ranted about my pet peeves when I play blackjack. At the conclusion of the column, I asked readers to send me their pet peeves, promising I would publish them in Casino Player. Well, here are some of the responses, with my succeeding comments. (Note: In some cases, I paraphrased their rants; for others, I combined several into one rant.)

“My pet peeves are when a player starts moaning and complaining after receiving only his FIRST card, or after losing only a few hands; and a clueless player who doesn’t follow basic strategy but always says after making a bonehead play, ‘I just felt that ten (or whatever card) was coming.’”

Comment: Not much you can do with a constant complainer other than leave the table and play elsewhere. As for clueless players, just ignore what they say, knowing that their bonehead plays will not alter the house edge against you in the long run.

“My pet peeve is when dealers allow someone to take a seat next to a player but not play. When the casino is crowded, why should someone who wants to play blackjack, but can’t find an open seat, be the one to ask the player if he or she could please get up. If someone isn’t going to play, he shouldn’t be allowed to occupy a seat at a blackjack table.”

Comment: If this ever happens to you, don’t confront the player; instead, call over the floor supervisor and discreetly ask him or her to tell the player to leave so you can play. (Most floor supervisors know better and when the casino is crowded, they won’t allow someone to sit down at a blackjack table in the main casino without playing.)

“I absolutely hate it when I enter a game and right in front of me is an empty beer bottle and a dirty ash tray (no, I don’t smoke). When I ask the dealer to please remove them and he says, ‘I’m not allowed to do that,’ I end up having to sit there with this ‘junk’ in front of me.”

Comment: I make it a point to never sit at a table that has “dirty ash trays and empty beer bottles.” I guess I’m old school because in the good old days, dealers were expected to do “housekeeping” to keep their tables neat and tidy (and that included removing dirty ash trays, empty glasses and beer bottles, and even brushing the felt on the table). However, if you decide to take a seat and the dealer refused to remove the “junk,” I’d ask the floor person to do it, telling him the dealer stated it wasn’t his job.

“I go nuts when an active player tells the dealer, “Put a marker on my spot, I’ll be right back,” and it takes him forever to come back. Dealers should have a 20??30 minute timer, and when the time runs out and the player hasn’t returned, the dealer should be able to remove the marker and let someone else sit down and play.”

Comment: That’s a good idea because it lets the player know that he is on the clock, plus it’s a relatively inexpensive way for a dealer to keep track of the player’s time away from the table. The only issue occurs if a player leaves his or her casino chips on the table (many players do this, something that I don’t recommend) and doesn’t come back within 30 minutes. What does the casino do with the player’s chips?

“After I give my player’s card to the dealer, the pit boss takes his sweet old time to come over to the table to log in the starting time for my session. Sometimes it takes him over a half hour because he is joking (or flirting) with another employee. For rating purposes, I should be given credit for that first half hour.”

Comment: In many casinos, dealers can log your player’s card right at the start of your play. If that’s not the case, and you need a floor supervisor to come and do it, you could just sit there and not play any hands until he logs you in. If he sees you not making any bets, that might give him a sense of urgency to get over to your table. Another option is when you are done playing, ask him what was your rating (especially the time on the table). If he shortchanged you half an hour, bring it to his attention. (More often than not the dealer will confirm you started play a half hour earlier, especially if you tipped her.)

“My pet peeve is when I get a blackjack, the dealer has an ace showing, I refuse the even money proposition, and then another player says, ‘What, you are not going to take the guaranteed even money win?’ Then, of course, if the dealer has a blackjack, the same player will crow, ‘See, I told you so.’”

”I hate it when a dealer or fellow player has to make a comment after I make a playing decision. Once I surrendered hard 16 against the dealer 10 (this occurred several times) and then the dealer told me that was a ‘bad play.’ Ditto for hitting 12 when the dealer shows a 2 or 3. It’s not only the dealer giving ‘advice’ but also players. Some players lose their mind when I always double down on soft 18 (‘hey, you’ve got an 18’), and in a single- or doubledeck game, when I double down on soft 19 against a dealer 6.”

Comment: When a player tells me how to play my hand, I quickly counter by saying, “Who made you the blackjack expert? Have you written a book on blackjack?” That usually shuts him up. (And the few times someone actually said to me, “So what book have you written,” I walked around the table and whispered in his ear, “Blackjack: Take the Money and Run.”) In the case of a dealer offering me advice, I usually try to explain to her in a nice non-technical way that her advice is flat-out wrong.

“As you wrote, it’s annoying when someone jumps in mid-shoe; however, it is much more annoying when he does it in a double-deck game, especially when it’s near the shuffle point.”

Comment: Not only is this annoying to recreational players, it is costly to card counters. When I’m playing a double-deck game and the count becomes very positive, there is a great likelihood that tens and aces will be dealt before the dealer shuffles, so I make a rather large bet. The last thing I want is someone to jump in at this time because it decreases my chances of getting the player-favorable tens and aces and a potential blackjack. Tip: Most double-deck games will have a sign on the table that states “Mid-entry not allowed.” If there is no signage and you enter a game between shuffles, be courteous to your fellow players and wait a few minutes until the dealer shuffles before you buy in and begin playing.

Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Blackjack (, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (, lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, and host of For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to To receive his free catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit


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