Reading The Dealer

Tells are overrated – I heard someone say this at a party I went to on Saturday night.  It got me thinking, are tells really overrated?  Perhaps not.  Though tells are most often associated with poker and it many variants, you can also make use of tells in blackjack.  That is, if you are playing at a real table in a real casino.  Blackjack dealers, in fact, could give away some information.  That’s where dealer tells come in.

The basic definition of a tell is a gesture or an expression that a person (in this case the blackjack dealer) makes subconsciously. This gesture or expression can be interpreted to gain valuable information to help you in your blackjack game.  Blackjack dealers are humans and they can be prone to tells as well.

The most common blackjack dealer tell gives away information about his hole card – that is, the card that is not turned up.  If a dealer has a stiff card – cards which can be 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 – he just might need to look at the card more than usual.  This is because he wants to make sure that it isn’t an Ace.  Stiff cards can be easily confused for an Ace, especially a 4.  On the other hand, if the dealer has a paint or face card, the dealer would probably only look at the card very briefly.

Do remember that this should not be taken as a clear cut rule for dealer tells.  In fact, different dealers would have different tells.  What you should do is to observe the dealer carefully and figure out what his tells are.

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