Blackjack Hand Signals – How to Play Like a Pro
Last Updated: December 20, 2023
If you’re used to playing online blackjack or have never played live blackjack in a land-based casino, one of the most important things to master are blackjack hand signals.
Knowing the proper blackjack signs will help streamline the experience, make it easier for both you and the dealer, and minimize any chance of miscommunication. Plus, it’ll make you look like a blackjack specialist to others at the table.
On this page, I’ll cover all of the blackjack hand gestures you should know so you can start playing the game like a pro. Let’s get into it!
Why Should You Use Hand Signals for Blackjack?
Using blackjack signals will instantly earn you cool points among everyone at the table. But, this aside, blackjack hand signals serve a much more essential purpose than showing off. They ensure clear communication between you and the blackjack dealer.
Blackjack tables can often be hectic. Add to this the loud and energetic casino atmosphere in the room, misunderstandings can quickly occur. This is where blackjack hand signals come in.
With a slight move of your hand, you can clearly signal your decision to the dealer. As the dealer is always paying attention to your cards, they will notice any action near or over them. Due to this, blackjack signals can significantly speed up the game.
Moreover, if everyone is using hand signals, every round can be more exciting and adrenaline-pumping. There wouldn’t be any annoying or prolonged breaks while every player announces their decision verbally each time they have to make a choice.
In line with this, blackjack hand signals also prevent miscommunication on another crucial front. Most casinos nowadays are equipped with modern surveillance systems that cover every inch of their gambling floors.
When you use hand signals, you have visual evidence of every decision you make. Thanks to this, you can conveniently right any wrongs you might encounter. If you think the dealer made a mistake that cost you money, you can quickly request a rewind to prove your point.
Of course, these tapes also protect the casino, as managers use them to closely observe any signs of cheating among blackjack players.
How to Use Different Blackjack Hand Signals
All blackjack variations will have five gameplay options. These include hitting, standing, doubling down, splitting, and surrendering. In some games, you will also have the option to take insurance.
To give you complete coverage of all blackjack hand signals, here are the signs you should learn for each option:
Blackjack Hand Signals for Hitting
When you decide to “hit”, you’re requesting another card to be added to your current total. Now, depending on whether you’re playing a face-up or face-down blackjack game, the hand signals for hitting will differ.
To be more precise, in a face-up blackjack game, if you want to hit, you just use one finger to tap the table behind your blackjack hand. Common blackjack etiquette states that you should use your index finger to signal for another card.
In contrast, if you’re playing a face-down game, you should scrape your cards on the table to indicate that you want another card.
Blackjack Sign for Standing
Knowing when to stand is crucial, so standing is as important as taking a new card. This is why learning the signal for standing is essential. Luckily, this sign is very simple.
To signal to the dealer that you’re happy with your hand and want to stand, you should put your hand face down and move it from side to side. To give you a better image, think of it as waving to the table.
It’s vital to make this sign clear and apparent. Move your hand a couple of times to be certain that the dealer saw your signal.
Blackjack Signal for Doubling Down
You can use the double-down option when you’re confident in your hand and certain that you need just one more card. By doubling down, you’ll double your original wager in return for just a single additional card.
You won’t be able to make any other decisions after and will have to stand.
The hand signal for doubling down is the same for face-up and face-down blackjack. Unlike all other blackjack hand signals, this one directly involves using chips.
To signal a double-down decision, you should place additional chips next to your original bet, in the same manner.
After that, point with your index finger to the newly-formed chip stack. However, make sure not to tap the table. This can cause confusion, as the dealer might think that you’re trying to hit instead of doubling down.
Blackjack Hand Sign for Splitting
The splitting option in blackjack is available when you receive two cards of the same value. When this happens, you can create two hands and play with two separate bets, potentially doubling your profits.
Of course, you’ll also have to place an additional bet equal to your original bet’s value.
Unlike some other blackjack hand signals, this one doesn’t change depending on whether it’s a face-up or face-down game. The sign for splitting is very simple. You just need to make a V-shape above your cards using your index and middle finger.
Blackjack Hand Signal for Surrendering
If a blackjack variation you’re playing includes a surrender option, you can use it to fold your hand without drawing any new cards. This gets you half of your original bet back and can be a useful strategy if you think you don’t have a chance of winning the round.
To signal a surrender, you should draw an imaginary line beneath your cards. Most players use their index finger for this, although some players also do so with both their index and middle finger.
That said, you might cause confusion if you use this sign in casinos that don’t have a standard signal for surrendering. This is because there’s no general sign for surrendering that’s accepted in all casinos.
Considering that, no matter if you use the described blackjack hand signal or not, it’s smart to always announce your decision verbally.
This will ensure that the dealer will understand that you want to surrender and won’t misinterpret the sign for another hand signal if their casino doesn’t generally have a surrender signal.
Blackjack Signal for Taking Insurance
The insurance bet is a type of side bet available in some blackjack variations. This is an option you can take when the dealer is showing an Ace as their face-up card.
Like the surrender option, the insurance bet doesn’t have a universal hand sign you can use in every casino. So, when you want to make this side bet, you should verbally announce your decision.
With that in mind, the insurance bet is generally a poor long-term choice in blackjack. It puts you at the risk of losing two bets instead of one, and the payout isn’t generous enough to make it worthwhile. Because of this, it’s best to avoid this bet in general, or at least try to minimize using it.
Ready to Start Playing?
Blackjack hand signals enable you to clearly and quickly state your intentions in every situation. They speed up the game and reduce the chance of confusion.
When using blackjack signs, the dealer and other players at the table will appreciate your promptness and attitude toward the game.
With that in mind, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure you always signal correctly. While there are not many blackjack hand signals and they are easy to learn, mistakes can happen. A wrong signal can only bring in more confusion and puzzle everyone at the table.
This is why it's crucial to practice these signs and make sure you’ve mastered them together with rules and basic blackjack strategy before playing in a real casino.
A good way to start is to verbally announce every decision while signaling it. This would make it easier for the dealer and other players to correct you on the spot.
Additionally, basic blackjack etiquette is also one of the things worth learning, as it ensures a more pleasant experience for everyone at the table. Know when it’s your turn to play and handle the chips and cards adequately. Naturally, always treat the dealer and other players with respect.
That said, if you already feel confident in your mastery of blackjack signals and know proper blackjack etiquette, all that’s left now is to test them out in a land-based casino!