The Ins and Outs of Casino Hand Gestures

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A hand with painted red nails holding cards.
BetMGM Jun 17, 2024, 11:26 AM

While there’s still a time and a place for that dizzying thrill of playing casino table games at a traditional brick-and-mortar casino, fans of online casino games will be aware of just how simple it is to play their favorite casino games online. After all, until recently, the automatic features of online games have meant that most players haven’t needed to learn the same casino etiquette, like hand gestures, that they would if they were playing casino games in an actual casino. 

However, the rise of live dealer casino games and the use of technology like AR and VR have made it important to learn these gestures and to start working on perfecting your “poker face” once again. Even if you steer clear of live games and prefer to keep it “old-school,” you never know when you’ll have to use these skills at a brick-and-mortar casino in the future.

So, where do you start? This article examines the ins and outs of the most common hand gestures in the most popular casino table games: blackjack, poker, craps, and roulette.

What Are Casino Hand Gestures, and Why Are They Important?

Dealers and players use specific hand gestures when playing certain games as an alternative way of communicating what they want to do. In most situations, these hand gestures help to ensure faster, more streamlined gameplay. Some gestures are also often used to prevent cheating or to make it impossible for a player, dealer, or croupier to influence the game. An example is when a dealer claps and shows their hands to the camera (in the case of a live online game) or to the players (in the case of a game at a traditional casino,) known as “clearing the hands.”

Understanding Casino Dealer Hand Signals

To ensure that casino games are played fairly and honestly, casino dealers are often responsible for looking out for signs of cheating. This is a big part of why dealers will use hand signals. In land-based casinos, CCTV cameras (sometimes called eyes in the sky) are positioned above the casino tables to monitor games. The casino dealers will use different hand gestures in view of the cameras to ensure fair gameplay, identify cheaters, and confirm that they are not stealing chips, for example.

Some of the most common hand gestures from casino dealers include clearing their hands, tapping the table, showing their hands, or clapping. 

How Dealers at Casinos Clear Their Hands

The phrase “clearing your hands” refers to the hand gestures used by casino dealers to show both patrons and the cameras that they are not stealing any chips from the rack or a customer. Dealers usually signify cleared hands by clapping once, showing both sides of their hands, or shaking their hands and fingers. 

A dealer will always clear their hands before touching any part of their body, putting their hands behind their back, reaching into their pockets, or covering their mouth to sneeze or yawn.

<Why Do Dealers Tap the Table at Casinos?

If you’re at a brick-and-mortar casino and you tip your dealer, the dealer will likely tap their chip loudly on the table before putting the tip into “the box.” This acts as a “thank you” to the tipper and a signal to the floor supervisor and the cameras confirming that they are not stealing the chip. 

Why Dealers Clap When They Leave the Table

You may have noticed that casino dealers clap their hands when leaving the table. This is to show that their hands are empty because the clapping action is intended to dislodge anything that may be hidden. Similarly, casino dealers will often turn their palms upwards, wiggle their fingers, or shake their hands after handling chips or cash. These signals show the CCTV cameras that the dealer isn’t palming or stealing chips. 

Blackjack Hand Signals

Blackjack, also sometimes referred to as 21, is one of the most popular table games on casino floors and in online casinos, and for good reason. Firstly, it’s an entertaining game, but it’s also incredibly easy to learn — both in terms of the rules and the relevant hand gestures. This makes it an excellent choice for beginners. Blackjack also has one of the lowest house edges on the casino floor, giving players a better chance of winning than other games.

Of course, like any other game, when you play blackjack at a casino, it’s essential that you know the casino table rules and how to play it. One of the crucial aspects of blackjack etiquette is understanding and learning the various hand signals used in the game.

Let’s look at the most common blackjack hand gestures and when you should use them.

Hit

A hit is when you request another card from the dealer. If you’re holding your cards, you can simply scrape them on the table to ask for another card. If your cards are face-up, however, then you can either touch your finger on the table or use your hand to wave toward yourself, indicating that the dealer should give you another card.

Stand

When you opt to “stand” when playing blackjack, it means that you want to stick or stay with the cards that you have and that you don’t need another one. You can indicate that you want to stand by simply waving one of your hands over your cards.

Double Down

When you double down, you are doubling your initial bet and will receive one more card from the dealer. This means that you have your two initial cards and the extra one. You can signal that you want to double down by placing the extra chips next to your initial bet.

Split a Pair

This is when you split the initial two cards you’re dealt, but it can only be done if they have the same value. If you would like to split two same-value cards, all you have to do is place another bet with the same value but put your chips down in an area away from the original betting box and hold up your index and middle finger.

Why Do Blackjack Dealers Swipe the Table?

In blackjack games, when the dealer swipes their hand across the table from left to right, it signals that bets are open. The dealer closes bets by swiping their hand across the table from right to left. 

Poker Hand Signals

Online poker is easily one of the most played games, and it’s estimated that there are over 60 million poker players in the U.S. alone. This isn’t surprising, considering that the game is challenging, fun, and boasts many varieties, so players will never get bored. 

While an online casino does most of the work for online games, live or in-person casino poker games are a whole different scenario. If you want to play poker and avoid some of the most common blunders of poker etiquette, you simply have to know the hand gestures for the game. Here are the most common gestures used in poker.

Fold

When you fold in poker, you concede the game and have no more interest in the current pot. If you want to use a gesture to show that you want to fold, all you have to do is place your cards face down on the table.

Call

“Calling” in poker simply means that you are willing to match a bet or a raise. Instead of words, you can use a gesture: simply place a stack of chips in the middle of the table that matches the value of the other players’ stacks.

Raise

When you raise in poker, you increase the size of an existing bet in the same round. To do this, you must first place chips equal to the current bet down and then add the amount you wish to increase it by.

Check

If you want to pass the play on to the next player but keep your current cards, you will have to check. If this is your next course of action, all you have to do is ensure that no other player has bet or raised in the round and then simply tap the table.

Bet

If you are opening the betting, you need to place down the value of chips you would like to bet in the middle of the table and wait for the other players to call or raise your bet.

Craps Hand Signals

Craps does not rely on hand gestures as much as poker or blackjack do, but there are still a few hand signals and etiquette that you should be aware of.

Rolling the Dice

Although not necessarily a hand signal, if you would like to abide by the typical craps etiquette, it’s important to know that you must always handle and throw the dice using only one hand.

Passing Right

You don’t always have to roll the dice; for some rounds, you can pass the dice on to the player on your right. To do this, simply open your hand with the dice in your palm and offer them toward the player to your right.

Hands High

During a craps game, the dealer could call “hands high” or “the dice are out.” This means that all players must lift their hands off the table to ensure they are not interfering with play. 

Roulette Hand Gestures

Roulette is similar to craps in that the gameplay doesn’t rely on hand signals. However, knowing the following is important to ensure you play the game correctly.

No More Bets

The dealer will signal that no more bets can be placed by raising a hand horizontally over the table.

Hands Away

Players must keep their hands off the table until the dealer removes all losing bets.

Do You Have To Use Hand Signals in a Casino?

Land-based casinos usually require players to use hand signals to indicate their moves. Unlike online casinos, a physical casino setting can get crowded and noisy fairly quickly, making it difficult for the dealer to hear and understand players. So, hand gestures are required to ensure that the security cameras can monitor players’ actions in case of any disputes. The dealer will usually go through the hand gestures before the start of a game for players who aren’t aware of how to use them. 

Brushing Up on Casino Etiquette

Remember, using the correct hand gestures is just a small part of casino etiquette. So, if you’re keen on visiting a traditional casino or have your eye on live casino games, it will definitely pay to brush up on the do’s and don’ts. For example:

  • Always check on the casino’s dress code before slipping on a comfortable pair of sandals ahead of your visit. 
  • Avoid checking your mobile phone during a game. 
  • Consider tipping the dealer or croupier — they work long hours and usually go out of their way to ensure you have a great time and all gameplay is fair and safe.
  • Don’t break card etiquette. Card games have a few more rules (and unwritten rules) in place than most casino dice games. For instance, you should only touch the cards with one hand when they’re face down and should not touch them at all when they’re dealt face-up. 
  • If you are confused about which hand gestures you should be using, use your words instead. It’s much safer than using the wrong hand gesture to indicate that you’re bowing out or folding and unintentionally raising your bet.

Also, keep in mind that casino etiquette can differ quite a lot for live online games vs. in-person games, so be sure to take the time to research and compare both.

Play the Best Online Casino Games at BetMGM

Whether you enjoy playing casino table games on the casino floor or playing slots online in the comfort of your own home, it’s important that you know the basic rules and gameplay for whatever game you choose. BetMGM has a massive variety of online games for you to choose from. Register with BetMGM today and explore its vast collection of online slots, live dealer casino games, and so much more. 

Still learning how to play poker in a casino or trying to figure out how to beat cognitive bias when playing casino games? BetMGM is a fantastic resource for tips and guidance, so don’t hesitate to read further.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.