Any gambling games that involve cards also involve the possibility of tells. Tells are actions by a player or dealer that can possibly reveal what cards they hold. It is most common for tells to be observed in a game like poker, but they can also be useful to the player in blackjack. Learning how to spot tells from a blackjack dealer can put extra profits in your pocket when you are playing live blackjack.
Counting Edge has prepared this explanation of blackjack dealer tells to help you spot actions taken by the dealer when viewing their hole card. At the blackjack table information is power, and observing these tells may reveal whether you need to stand, hit, double, or surrender your hand at blackjack.
What is a Tell in Blackjack?
Let’s begin by defining what a tell is in blackjack. The precise definition of a tell is an unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception. Basically, tells are responses of the physiology that can reveal information about a hand. Here’s an example.
The live blackjack dealer is dealt two cards. One is face down and the other is face up. Before the hand begins the dealer must look at the face down card if the face up card is an ace or a ten to determine if they hold a blackjack. The dealer’s reaction to the hole card can sometimes help a player make an informed judgment about what that hole card is.
Now, if the dealer’s face up card is an ace this is irrelevant. The dealer will offer insurance before looking at the hold card. After the insurance bets have been made or refused, the dealer will check to see if they have a ten in the hole. If they do hold a ten, the card is turned over and the hand ends. If not, play continues.
Tells come into play when the dealer has a ten showing. Again, if the card in the hole is an ace the hand is over. But if it is a ten or any other card play continues. The dealer may inadvertently reveal if the hole card is a ten through their reaction to seeing what the hole card is.
There will not be blackjack dealer tells on each hand. There may, however, be enough of them to make a difference in the edge that you can create against the house. Increasing your edge as a player is the way that you make blackjack profits. You can use a variety of methods to increase your edge as a player. These include the use of basic blackjack strategy, card counting, and tells.
Blackjack Dealer Tells and Online Blackjack
It should be noted here that blackjack dealer tells are exclusively confined to live blackjack games. In virtual blackjack games that are played online there will be no tells to observe because there is no dealer. You are dealt the cards in a graphic interface that only includes the cards and the blackjack table.
Some casinos have begun to offer live dealer blackjack games. In this case you may be able to spot tells from the dealer. The live blackjack dealer at an online casino has to take the same actions that a dealer takes in a live casino. This means that they will need to look at their hole card on occasion to determine if they hold a blackjack.
How to Spot Blackjack Dealer Tells
It can be difficult to spot tells from a live blackjack dealer. This is especially true if the player does not have frequent playing access to that dealer. This is because spotting tells relies heavily on the observation of certain patterns a dealer has.
John Patrick, a famous blackjack dealer and gambler, once gave an example about a tell from a dealer. Whenever the dealer had a ten in the hole they would lift the hole card and look at it one time. If the card was anything other than a ten the dealer would lift the corner of the card twice to verify that it wasn’t a ten. The only way that a blackjack player could spot such a tell would be if they had the opportunity to observe many hands dealt by that particular person.
Tells in gambling card games are essentially rooted in human psychology. In blackjack, the dealer knows that a ten in the hole makes them strong against other players. A six in the hole would make them very weak. The dealer is subconsciously trying to mislead players when they are weak to make the player think that they are strong, and vice versa.
Even though the blackjack dealer has no vested interest in who wins a hand of blackjack, there is still a mental factor which tells the dealer the house should always win the hand. This can create the tells that you are looking for as a blackjack player that is trying to win large sums of money.
The Most Common Blackjack Dealer Tells
We will now look at three or four common blackjack dealer tells. These are by no means a complete list of tells that you may observe. They are merely the most common occurrences.
A blackjack dealer that is cheerful after they look at a hole card may be sending players a message that they have a weak hand. This type of dealer is one that wants the player to win so that they can make a large tip. This happens more often than you might think in a live casino. Live blackjack dealers are not paid large sums of money. They depend on tips to survive. Blackjack players that are winning are more likely to tip.
When a dealer of this type observes a hole card that makes them weak they may be more chatty and friendly to players. This could be their way of telling them that they are likely to bust their hand and make everyone at the table a winner.
Frequently checking the hole card as we mentioned in the above example may also be a blackjack dealer tell. This will require careful observation. Some dealers need to check the hole card more than once if they have a ten. Others need to check it more than once if they have a four, five, or six. As also mentioned, the only way to spot a tell like this is to be playing with the blackjack dealer often.
Finally, how the dealer places their cards on the table after checking the hole card can also be a tell. The dealer may slide the cards to slightly to one side of center. This can indicate that they are expecting to have to hit the hand from the shoe and need room to place the other cards. If the cards are placed right in the center of the table directly in front of the dealer, the dealer likely has a hand of 17 or better and does not require any other cards from the shoe.
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