Where Did the Blackjack Ritual Come From?


This policy and practice date back to the 1950s and it’s still going on today. It was implemented to prevent a number of illegal moves that a dealer, in collusion with a player, could make.

For example, and dealer and player could shake hands and pass cash, chips, drugs, etc. faster than you can blink your eye. And that’s not an exaggeration. Sleight-of-hand artists can do these things in such a way that you could be looking right at them and not see it.

Another scam: The dealer “palm rolls” the cash, then pretends to drop it into the drop box with the paddle, but actually slips it up a sleeve or in a pocket or somewhere convenient for spiriting it out of the casino when he leaves.

A crap player might hand off a pair of gaffed cubes (misspotted or weighted dice that won’t roll a crap number or will roll 7 or 11).

These days, dealers at almost all the joints have to pool all the tips given to them individually with all the other dealers’ tips. Thus, the handshake “pass-on” was a method of toking a dealer without anyone else being the wiser.

We’re not sure if it still goes on, but another method has been used to slip money to the dealer. The player took a regular screw-apart pen, curled up a $10, $20, $50, or $100 bill, and placed it inside the pen. When he signed for a marker, he declined to use the casino‘s pen, removing one instead from his shirt pocket. He signed the marker, and after the floorman or pit boss left with it, he tossed the pen to the dealer.

Since most casinos have procedures in place that forbid contraband on the table, the dealer showed the pen to the eye (camera), turned up both sides of his hands, and placed the pen in his pocket. This move was also made using a book of matches, but it “leaked” (it can be seen fairly easily) too much.

The cash hand-off (handshake) was a very popular move on crap tables, which is why the boxman uses the clear paddle (the clear plastic piece that sticks inside the drop box to make sure the money goes all the way into the box) to slide the cash over the drop box inlet and push it down with the use of the paddle.

To see this policy in action, try to get a dealer to shake your hand when you sit down, play, or leave his table. The dealer will decline, usually politely, and tell you that it’s against the rules of every casino for a dealer to shake hands with a player. He might offer you a fist bump, or these days an elbow touch, but that’s it.

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