When I play games (causally) that involve face-up cards across a table (hold 'em, blackjack, etc), I usually have to either ask that the cards be placed closer to the center (toward me), particualrly at larger tables, in order to see them. I can imagine that this would be an imposition, and perhaps even barred, in a casino setting. And I imagine that even if I could ask that cards be announced when dealt (I don't know if that's possible), that I wouldn't be able to take notes to record them so I'd have to memorize the table every hand.

Are those impressions correct? If so, what affordances are available to visually-impaired players? Or is this just one of those cases of "sorry, don't try to do that"?

(I ask this question out of curiosity, not out of an impending desire to jump into casinos, for which I'm not good enough.)

  • 2
    This is also one of the main reasons I stopped playing M:tG (where I did actually play in a couple tournaments) -- asking to see the cards was annoying the other players. And the tables there are usually smaller than casino poker tables; on the other hand, casinos may be more interested than M:tG tournaments in helping me give them my money. :-) Jan 15, 2014 at 18:24
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    I always read the card I play when i play M:tG and my group always had a unwritten rule that any card could be inspected at any time if it was face up on the table. No matter how many times it was asked to be seen. We are all near sighted :)
    – Pow-Ian
    Jan 15, 2014 at 18:29
  • The people I've played with don't mean to be mean or anything, but especially when there are a lot of cards on the table, it can be hard to track -- wait, is that available blocker card A or card B with similar colors in the art? Jan 15, 2014 at 18:40
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    @Pow-Ian That's actually a written rule. "Players may refer to Oracle text, either electronically or in paper form, at any time. They must do so publicly and in a format (such as gatherer.wizards.com, other official Wizards of the Coast sources, or printouts of their sources) which contains no other strategic information. If a player wishes to view Oracle text in private, he or she must ask a judge." I know you were referring to kitchen-table magic, not tournament magic, but still the spirit applies.
    – corsiKa
    Jan 15, 2014 at 19:46
  • In MTG, you are also allowed to take notes (though you can't bring notes in with you into the game except those corsiKa mentioned).
    – ikegami
    Jan 16, 2014 at 5:28

3 Answers 3


If you play table games like blackjack, I don't think you'd have any trouble (although since only a card counter would want to know other people's cards, don't expect any help there. ;)).

In Hold-'em poker, some seats are definitely better than others; the cards generally go right in front of the dealer, so if you can get the seat directly in front of the dealer you'd probably be fine, and you might be able to make do with the seats on either side of the dealer depending on how small the tables are. I suspect that in the worst case you could tell the floor that you can only play in the center seat, and see how well they can accommodate you. If the room's even halfway decent they'll try to take care of you.


When dealing blackjack, a (legally mandated) rule required all scores to be announced, partly for this exact reason.

You would hear the current total for the current active hand, which the dealer would also be pointing to, and can ask for the dealer's card to be stated at any time. A busy table might lead to impatience with constantly calling out all cards and you would be limited to the single statement of each one. But on a slower table or when you're the only player, dealers are happy to help out in small ways as there is much more time available to do so.

When dealing poker, we would often reserve a seat for those players who have low eyesight directly across from the dealer, both in cash and in tournament, where it is the least distance to see the cards and where they are laid out directly in front of the player.

Anything that wouldn't be stated for another player won't be stated for you, but any bet or raise amounts can be given, cards can be read off the board, active players can be indicated.

Generally, a good casino will reduce barriers that stop you playing and spending your money - blind or not, your dollars are worth the same. A great casino will go beyond legal requirements in small ways like the aforementioned seating or reading of cards, and will pay special attention to any issue you have, regardless of whether your disability is a factor in that issue - giving and being seen to give excellent service is the casino's best advertisement. A bad casino won't care - you'll quickly figure out whether you're in one and can leave shortly afterward.


It's been generally true, but particularly since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, that casinos will make "reasonable efforts" to accommodate the disabled. This is perhaps more true in the East Coast, which had a strong civil rights tradition going back to the 1970s (New Jersey casinos can't bar suspected "card counters" but they can shuffle up after them) than in the West (in Nevada, it's a felony to use a computer to play casino games).

"Reasonable efforts" may consist of giving you good seats (either next to, or across from the house dealer), rather than at the ends. At the minimum, it would consist of the dealer announcing "your cards" (your two cards and his upcard in blackjack, the five "board" cards in holdem).

With some practice, you should be able to recall the three or five cards that have been "announced" to you in blackjack or holdem (have a practice session before each casino visit), and it will actually make you a better player. What little I have read on this subject in books suggests that most disabled players are "above average" after they overcome their initial handicap, because they're more sensitive to what else is going on. Also, opponents tend to underestimate them.

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