Because of the nature of the business, casinos have implemented strict rules and procedures in terms of how the games are dealt.
Now, some of these procedures and gestures may look a bit strange if you’re a new player.
For instance, you may have seen casino dealers clap or clear their hands before going on a break.
Or you may have seen poker dealers tap the table before dealing the community cards, and wondered why they would do that over and over again for apparently no reason.
Now, in blackjack (as well as other casino playing card games) the dealer must swipe their hand on the table, right to left, before drawing the first card.
So… what’s the reason?
Why do blackjack dealers swipe the table?
Blackjack dealers swipe the table to let the players know a new hand is about to begin.
Once the dealer swipes their hand, right to left, players cannot place any more wagers on the blackjack box. Sometimes the dealer announces “no more bets” as well, to make it 100 percent clear.
This happens in other casino games, not just blackjack.
For example, if you’re playing baccarat and you’ve already put your bet on the table, the dealer will swipe their hand before drawing the first card.
Same with casino war, or three card poker. You’ll see the same exact gesture in most casino games that use playing cards (as opposed to, say, the roulette wheel).
What may happen if the dealer doesn’t swipe the table
1. Players may try to cheat
Let’s say the dealer forgets to call no more bets, or swipe the table, and deals the card too quickly.
The first card is an ace, and the first player, who did not place any bet on the blackjack box, tries to take advantage of the situation.
They say they were about to bet a hundred or so, but were not given enough time.
Even if it was obvious that the player was cheating, this would be a problem. The easiest way to prevent this is to have all dealers swipe the table before every hand.
2. Players may not have time to bet
And then there may be situations where the players genuinely wanted to place a bet, but had no clue that the new hand was about to begin.
One of the duties of casino dealers is to be in charge of the game, and this includes running the games at a steady pace.
In poker, you get players who wait a minute or so before making a call, and slow down the game from time to time, and that’s acceptable. But that’s not true for all other casino games.
In blackjack, it is the dealer who decides when a new hand is about to begin.
So when they start to swipe the table, all players know they have a few seconds left to place their bets.
3. The game may be too slow
And finally, by keeping the game at a steady pace, the dealers will deal enough hands per hour, and generate enough profit each hour.
If players had more time to bet (say, thirty seconds before each hand), that would translate to a massive loss in terms of profit.
Plus, most blackjack players like it when the game is faster.
If the dealer swipes their hand with the correct timing, the game won’t be too fast or too slow — and both the managers and the players will be happy.
Why do blackjack dealers burn a card?
In some casinos, the blackjack dealer will burn a card after the shuffle. Basically, the first card will not be dealt to the player, but put in the discard pile.
You may see this when there is a dealer change as well. A new dealer comes to the table, puts one card in the discard pile, and only then begins to deal the game.
Blackjack dealers burn a card to prevent cheating.
If a player was able to know what the first card was, either because of card marking or shuffle tracking, they could get an unfair advantage over the house.
By burning a card, this cheating technique (which is already very unlikely) becomes impossible.
Why do blackjack dealers have an advantage?
All casino games are designed so that the house has a statistical advantage over the player, provided they are not cheating or manipulating the odds in any way.
In the short term, the player may get lucky, win, cash out, and leave. And the casino would lose money. But in the long term, the casino will always have an advantage.
This is true for roulette, craps, blackjack, and any other table you’ll see in casinos.
In blackjack, the dealer has an advantage mainly because they act last, while the player acts first. If both the player and the dealer bust, then only the player will lose their bet. This alone is a big advantage.
Now, if you play basic strategy, you may be able to lower the house edge on blackjack quite significantly. But basic strategy alone won’t get the house edge to zero.
Plus, most players aren’t disciplined enough to play perfect basic strategy — they simply have a rough idea of how to play so the dealer’s advantage isn’t as high.
And cheating techniques such as card counting, shuffle tracking, card marking, etc. are not allowed, even though some of them are not cheating technically.
So no, you won’t be able to beat blackjack, and if you do, expect to be banned from the casino, possibly other casinos as well.
Any other questions? Anything that’s not clear? Feel free to leave a comment below 👇