How would you like a job where people blow smoke in your face, and a few even call you names under their breath as you take their money? Add to that, the fact that you get to work on weekends, holidays, and all hours of the day and night. Welcome to the ‘glamorous’ world of casino blackjack dealing. Along with its drawbacks, however, this job can provide a comfortable income and an opportunity for world travel. It also serves as a stepping-stone in the hierarchy of casino careers.Blackjack dealers are adept at maneuvering cards, money, and casino chips; they should fully understand the rules of the game, “21.” Employees generally alternate between dealing a blackjack game for 40 to 60 minutes, and then taking a 20-minute break. Rich broke in as a casino blackjack dealer in downtown Las Vegas in the 1970s. He dealt other games as well. He was a second-generation dealer. Most Las Vegas dealers pay their dues at downtown casinos with the hope of moving on to the “the strip” to make better money at impressive venues. Rich thought dealing would be an interesting way to make a living, so he gave it a try and shares some of his experiences here.
Casino odds favor the house; therefore, dealers are expected to keep the games moving. Rich learned that point early on. There were blackjack novices on his table who asked questions, so he started to explain the finer points of the game to them. Apparently, he stopped dealing for too long-a cardinal sin in a casino. He was taken off the game by an older pit boss, “Son, you are being paid to deal, not to give long explanations. You’re costing the house money.” Needless to say, his future lessons to the customers were not long-winded, since he concentrated on keeping the game moving.
Dealers should be cautious of what they say to patrons. An elderly man and a younger woman were on one game. “Sir, where are you and your daughter from?” the dealer asked The man snarled back, “This is not my daughter; we are together.” As a dealer, if you have a slip of the tongue, just apologize and move on. Above all, never comment on the amount of money a customer spends.
Rich had an innocent smile on his face one day as he dealt blackjack. A player on his game was losing every hand and snapped, “Do you think it’s funny that I’m losing my money?” Another time, ironically, he was met with, “How come dealers never smile?” Of course there are also patrons who celebrate because they’re winning. In those cases, the dealer can usually-not always, of course- expect generous tips. A big part of a dealer’s income is based on those tips. Some gamblers “toke” or place a bet for the dealer simply because they’re enjoying the game .
Rich’s experiences as a blackjack dealer-and later as a casino supervisor-could fill a book. Dealers come in contact with people from all walks of life. There are cheats, grifters, the rich and famous, and ordinary folks out to have fun. He advises potential dealers to expect the unexpected. A fight broke out on a blackjack table one evening. The embattled patrons managed to reposition a couple of the gaming tables before security arrived and escorted them out of the casino. In a New Year’s Eve instance, a pair of happy-albeit intoxicated-customers jumped right up onto the blackjack table. That was against all rules, for obvious reasons, and it blocked surveillance cameras as well.
The most exciting part of the casino industry today is its expansion. There are cruise ships and casinos in many states-and in different spots around the world- presenting opportunity to anyone who is up for the adventure. Rich believes dealing was a real education. Newcomers should learn as much as possible and keep a sense of humor along the way. If you lose composure easily, this job may not be for you. Most members of the public are pleasant; however, some can be difficult-especially when losing money. There are plenty of casino courses available today. It certainly helps to take the classes, but there are some things you just won’t learn in any classroom. If you decide to enter the casino industry as a blackjack dealer, the study of human nature awaits you.