Dealer Tells in Blackjack

Dealer tells are subconscious gestures or mannerisms of blackjack dealers that give away information regarding their hole cards. It’s the same concept as in poker – you’re looking for patterns or small clues as to what your opponent is holding.

Before you mortgage the house and take your life savings out to Vegas, be aware that dealers know all about dealer tells and are trained to work against them. In addition to that, not every dealer will have the same tell and not every tell is a source of perfectly accurate information.

Even so, dealer tells can still work if you use patience to find the right blackjack venue and right dealer. It requires a close eye and plenty of patience but it is possible. Even if you don’t feel like going through all that trouble, you can still keep these simple tells in mind and maybe get lucky one day.

Obvious Dealer Tells

Small Cards – Low cards ranked 2 through 6 are harder for the dealer to read. If the dealer has to look twice or takes longer than usual to look at his cards, there’s a chance he had a small card in the hole.

Paint Cards – On the other end of the spectrum are the large, easy-to-read face cards. If the dealer seems to take less time than usual to read his hole card, it might be because there was a face card down there. Face cards are easily recognized so it doesn’t take more than a cursory glance to see them.

A dealer who roots for the players – Some dealers like to see the players win so they might unconsciously give away information when they notice they have strong or weak hands. If this kind of dealer looks pleased about his hand, it might mean his hand is weak.

A dealer who roots against the players – Other dealers like the house to win. In that case, these dealers will look happier if they have strong hands and less happy if they have weak hands.

Other Dealer Tells

There are an infinite number of other possible dealer tells but we can’t give you an exact list of them because every dealer is a unique case. Make it a habit to closely watch the dealer after he checks his cards and then make a note of the type of hand he ends up with.

If you watch a dealer long enough, you might be able to pick up on some kind of mannerism that represents a strong or weak hand. Even the smallest thing such as a twitch of the eye, a deep breath or an extra stony face can lead to tells.

Also keep an eye on the dealer’s hand motions and placement of his cards. If a dealer anticipates having to hit soon (because he has a low hole card) he may unconsciously reveal the intention to hit with his hands or card placement.

The thing you’ll want to keep in mind with all dealer tells is that they are never 100% accurate. If you are fortunate enough to recognize a tell, don’t bet everything you have on that one hand. Even if you do have a pretty accurate tell, you’re not guaranteed to win the hand.

Keep it to Yourself

This is pretty obvious but it still needs to be said: if you recognize a dealer’s tell, don’t talk about it. Don’t mention it to the dealer, don’t tell anyone at your table and don’t even tell anyone else about it after you leave the casino. A dealer’s tell is a great advantage.

On top of that, don’t make it obvious that you have spotted a tell. Remember; you’re in a casino with highly trained security teams and state of the art monitoring systems. Don’t do anything to give away the fact that you have a tell. This also includes suddenly making huge bets when you pick up on a tell.