How to Behave at Online and Offline Casinos

Angie  Harper - EditorAngie Harper - 23 March 2020 in Features
How to Behave at Online and Offline Casinos

Casino etiquette is important. Whether online or at a real-world casino, it's crucial that you act with a certain level of decorum. That way, everyone can enjoy a pleasant experience wherever they gamble.

Etiquette isn't just some throwback to a more formal time. It's there to make the job of dealers and the rest of the staff at the casino easier. If everyone follows good etiquette, the likelihood of an individual ruining another player's good time is significantly reduced too.

Not all the rules and formalities will be written down. You're just kind of expected to know. Slipping up on etiquette doesn't always result in someone being mortally offended by your uncouth behaviour. Sometimes it means that players are at a disadvantage to you or that you are inadvertently making the croupier's job harder for them. We produced the following article to give you some pointers to keep you in polite company whenever you visit either an online or real-world casino.

Brick-and-Mortar Etiquette

Converting Chips

Players should never hand cash directly to a dealer or croupier. If they wish to exchange dollars, euros, yuan, or chips to play the games with, they should politely ask for change and place their money on the table. The dealer will then allocate chips for you to place bets with. Alternatively, visit the designated cashier. Etiquette with regards to staff handling cash will usually be more relaxed at the cashier rather than the table.

Use Table Service

If you want a drink or a snack, rather than interrupt the game to queue at the bar, use table service. The staff will be happy to serve you (they make most of their money from tips). Having your drink delivered to you means you won't risk losing your seat or being dealt out for a few hands. Similarly, use the dealer at the table if you wish to change more money without surrendering your seat.

Don't Take a Seat Unless You're Going to Play

Regardless of your relationship with the other players at the table, how well you know the dealer, or how many seats are available at a table, you shouldn't take a seat unless you want to gamble. You might be taking up a seat that an actual player wants or you may be distracting the staff from work they could be getting on with during quieter periods.

Don't Use Your Phone at the Table

Just as sitting scrolling Facebook or chatting away to an old mate is the height of rudeness at the dinner table, so too is it at the casino. Generally speaking, you should avoid playing with your phone whilst in your seat. Firstly, players on their phones look disinterested in the action, which isn't the look the casino is wanting to portray. Secondly, players could be using their phones to glean additional information from fellow players or online resources. Casino operators won't be too impressed if you are texting your hole cards to other players at the poker table or consulting a perfect strategy blackjack chart!

Phone etiquette: If you need to use your phone, step away for a few moments. Signal that you need a minute to other players and quietly take the call or send your message. Put your phone away before you return to the table.

Use the Smallest Number of Chips Possible to Bet

You should always try to make the dealer's job as easy as possible. If you have $100 chips and you need to bet $100, use a single chip. Don't use a combination of $20, $10, and $5 chips. It's in the interest of all players at the table for the dealer to be fast and accurate with calculations. You messing around with smaller chips so you can keep your chip stack symmetrical, or whatever, helps no one.

Tipping

Tipping is an interesting one. At some casinos tipping is all but mandatory. In other parts of the world, dealers and croupiers would certainly appreciate a tip but hardly expect one. In general, presume that you should tip the dealer. If you then notice that literally no one else is doing, you can adjust your own tipping accordingly.

How much to tip: The amount you should tip will also vary depending on the stakes you are playing. The higher the stakes, the larger the tip. However, the percentage of your bet or stack you tip should remain pretty consistent.

Confusingly, there is no hard and fast rule about which percentage to use or when to actually tip. Some contend that you should tip the dealer whenever you get change. Others would add taking a pot down during a game of poker to that list too. Another common time to tip the dealer is when they finish their shift and swap out for a colleague.

If you're unsure, tip the dealer if you get change at the table. Also, tip them if you win more than the blinds in a poker hand. From then, the best advice we can give you is to pay attention to other players and when they tip. You'll soon get a good idea of the venue's etiquette.

Make it Easy for People to Count Your Stack

Unlike in other walks of life, it's not frowned upon to know exactly how much money someone has to play with in the casino. Players should always keep chips in full view of other players and dealers. In a game like poker, the number of chips a player has directly influences the decisions their opponents will make. Without this rule, you could shove your entire stack into a player with a similar number of chips as yourself thinking you have some fold equity. If you knew they could suddenly produce a few thousand-dollar chips, you might not have made the play.

Related to this is the concept of chip arrangement. What tends to happen in a game like poker is that players build up a lot of low value chips and a few high value ones. It's bad form to build up your low value chips to conceal the high value ones. Players will struggle to judge how much you actually have at a glance and may be forced to ask for a count. This is an opportunity for other players to glean additional information about hands and is entirely unnecessary if people know the size of everyone else's stacks.

Don't Splash the Pot

Sure, we've all seen it in the movies. With tension running high at the table, a player casually makes a raise. They might announce something like "I'll see your $50 and raise you" before literally chucking their money in with the rest of the chips in the middle of the table.

This is all kinds of bad form! Firstly, the dealer will accept only the first part of your verbal declaration. Rather than accepting your play as a raise, they will take it as a call. Secondly, the dealer will have no idea how much you actually put in the pot! All the chips you added will be indistinguishable from the rest.

Rather than "splash the pot" as this is called, you should instead place the correct number of chips you want to raise and announce only the total amount you will be putting in. When raising another player's bet, announce the total. If wanting to call $50 and raise another $100, state "I raise to $150". Then, place as close to the exact amount you stated as your raise in a neat pile over the white line denoting the gameplay area. As noted above, do not use more chips than is necessary.

Be Gracious in Both Victory and Defeat

If you win or lose big, try to keep your cool. No one likes a gloater if they suck out in a crucial hand. Similarly, staff don't want to have to listen to some drunk, abusive punter swearing their head off at them for dealing them "the wrong" cards.

Other players and the staff have nothing to do with the run of luck you receive when in a casino. If you feel your blood pressure rising, take a minute. Don't ruin someone else's day by letting your anger at even a justifiably annoying situation get the better of you!

Watch your temper! Casino staff generally have a no-nonsense attitude towards other players or staff facing abuse. You'll find yourself facing the boot pretty quickly if you don't behave.

Personal Hygiene is Important!

Whilst casinos are hardly the excuses to dress to impress that they used to be, that doesn't mean you should show up looking scruffy. Depending on the venue, you might find that the company enforces a dress code. Check this before you arrive and don't be surprised if they turn you away for failure to comply.

Even if the casino doesn't have a dress code, it's still important to consider other people when preparing for a gambling session. Have a shower, wear clean clothes, and remember that you will be sitting next to strangers for a long time. No one wants to sit next to a smelly stranger!

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Online Etiquette

Since players do not need to leave their house to play at an online casino, they often presume that etiquette is less important at iGaming venues. However, they're wrong.

Of course, gambling online automates or removes a lot of the opportunity to practice good etiquette. The casino software usually deals and exchanges funds for you (no tipping) and chips aren't physical so you won't be able to hide any in your pocket or splash the pot. There are a few unique-to-online etiquette pointers that players should consider, however.

Chat Etiquette

Just because you can't see the faces of your opponents doesn't mean all respect needs to fly out of the window. Don't be abusive to other players. You may find yourself banned from the site entirely if you really overstep the mark with whatever torrent of insults you sling at the person who sucked out on you.

People play at online casinos to have a good time. That usually doesn't include getting a verbal dressing down for what may be interpreted as "bad play".

Etiquette with Support

Being civil with the staff is just as important online as it is at the real-world casino. Staff work at the casino to make ends meet. The person you speak to usually has absolutely nothing to do with the problem you might be experiencing. If you need to contact support, be polite and try to give them as much information as possible. There is never an excuse for foul or offensive language.

Gameplay Etiquette

Gameplay etiquette is also important. Many online casino games, such as poker or live blackjack, host multiple players at the same table. Try to make your decisions as quickly as possible to avoid holding up the action.

Of course, every now and then you will need to make an agonising decision. Your fellow players won't mind this because they understand that sometimes there is a lot to consider. That said, you'll find them much less patient if you hold up the game every time it's your turn to act. Come on, fold that 7 and 2 already!

... And What if I Don't Play Nice?

The penalties for poor etiquette will depend on what you did wrong, how often you did it, and the venue's own policy. Something like splashing the pot for the first time might result in a polite word. After the fifth time in just an hour, the dealer will probably ask you to leave the table. At the other end of the spectrum, some etiquette breaches can result in immediate expulsion and banning from the venue. If you start physically abusing staff or fellow punters, for example, you can expect to lose your membership entirely!

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