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Casino dealers have one of the most-unique jobs when compared to any other profession. They must master the intricacies of casino games, deal with all sorts of gamblers, and work on variable pay.
In short, if you’ve never been a casino dealer, then you won’t truly know what it’s like to work this job. Assuming you’re interested in learning more about it, though, then you should definitely check out the following guide.
This post covers the finer points about what it’s like to be a casino dealer. It’s helpful no matter if you have dreams of becoming a dealer yourself or are just curious about the job.
How Do You Become a Casino Dealer?
Nobody walks into a casino, claims they know blackjack inside and out, and immediately lands a dealer position. Instead, extensive training is required to get one of these jobs.
Whether it’s baccarat or roulette, a dealer must be able to deal games in their sleep. They’ll be handling hundreds, or even thousands, of rounds per shift. The casino can’t afford for them to make lots of mistakes.
Casino dealer schools are available for those looking to develop the necessary skills. These institutes cost around $1,000 or so for a course, which generally lasts 8-12 weeks. Examples of dealer schools include the Casino Institute (San Diego) and Chicago Casino Academy.
In the best-case scenario, a local casino will need dealers so badly that they offer free on-the-job training. But even in this case, one still needs to meet certain criteria.
The exact requirements vary depending on the state and its respective gaming authority. Here’s some basic criteria, though, that’s common across the industry:
- High school diploma or GED
- Pass a drug test
- No felonies
- No misdemeanors involving theft
- Pass an audition held by the casino (if applicable)
- Availability, especially on holidays and weekends
What Skills Are Required for This Job
Landing a dealer job is only the first step to surviving in this industry. Croupiers need certain skills if they’re going to last for any measurable amount of time.
First off, being a dealer is about more than just dealing out cards. It also involves customer service and knowing how to handle certain situations.
Some of this job’s most-difficult aspects include dealing with drunk players or sorting out arguments between gamblers. The latter is especially common in blackjack, where some gamblers blame others for their losses.
Of course, having an outgoing personality and fun nature helps keep the table calm. A cool dealer puts all of the players in a better mood.
Croupiers must also be good at clearly communicating game rules to those who don’t understand them. This communication becomes even more challenging when loud music is playing in the background and people are drinking.
Dealers need to have decent math skills as well. They must determine payouts on the fly and do so while sorting out the winners and losers.
Dealing also requires some level of physical stamina. After all, croupiers are on their feet for a good portion of the day/night. They may also need to work long hours, which requires mental stamina as well.
How Much Do Casino Dealers Make?
The amount of money that dealers make varies widely based on the market and their experience. A croupier at the MGM Las Vegas, for example, will make far more money than somebody at a St. Louis riverboat casino.
This wide pay discrepancy is due to how part of the salary is based on tips. Clientele makes all the difference in this aspect.
Those vacationing and staying at Vegas Strip casinos are, on average, likely to tip better than locals playing in St. Louis or other Midwest cities.
Most Casinos Pay Minimum Wage to Dealers Based on the State Where They’re Located
Just to give you an idea of the discrepancies, Pennsylvania has a minimum wage of $7.25 while California offers $14. You may have heard that dealers make $60,000 or more per year. However, this figure is closer to the highest 10% of the profession.
Again, much depends upon where the dealer is located. Those who work at the most-lavish casinos certainly have a shot at $60k. Some of the highest-paid croupiers make $100,000 or more per year.
Of course, personality weighs into the equation too. A friendly, outgoing dealer is going to earn far more than the person who begrudgingly comes to work each day.
In some cases, though, dealers pool tips and split everything equally. This situation requires the croupiers to put forth a team effort to make their money.
The benefits that casinos offer should also be taken into account. Many gambling establishments deliver solid health plans and 401k contributions. These benefits help make up for the low base pay.
Do High Roller Dealers Make the Most?
You might think that croupiers who deal to high rollers have it made. After all, they’re dealing games to the richest clientele.
In reality, though, whales can be among the cheapest players. They gain their fortunes by earning lots of money and being frugal with it. Therefore, high rollers don’t necessarily spread the wealth after winning big.
Oftentimes, recreational gamblers who have hot nights are the most likely to give out big tips. For example, an Atlantic City gambler named Frank Nagy tipped the Tropicana staff $50,000 after winning a $1 million jackpot.
Of course, certain high rollers do tip well when they’re running hot. It shouldn’t be taken as a given, though, that those dealing the high-limit tables will automatically make big money.
What Are the Downsides of Being a Casino Dealer?
Croupiers may appear to have entertaining jobs that come with decent salary. However, they also face plenty of drawbacks as well.
For starters, dealing can be a stressful job that’s unforgiving when it comes to mistakes. Players are already quick to blame dealers with no mistakes involved. They feel more justified in blaming croupiers when slipups do happen.
Dealing mistake-free is difficult, even for seasoned vets. After all, dealers must handle a variety of aspects, including determining wins/losses, making proper payouts, and of course dealing the games.
As mentioned before, dealing can also be physically demanding. It requires standing for at least an hour straight, followed by a short break. This pattern goes on for an 8- or 10-hour shift.
The mental aspect can be draining as well. Dealers need to stay alert throughout their shifts to avoid making any of the previously mentioned mistakes.
Casinos don’t always offer the best atmospheres to work in either. The constant noises of slot machines and bright lights may seem cool as a visitor. But they become monotonous and downright annoying after months or even years of being around them.
Croupiers Need to Be Flexible on Their Hours
Casinos are in the entertainment business and, thus, must be fully staffed during holidays, weekends, and nights. Dealers must accommodate these needs by having open schedules.
They stand to make the most money during the busiest nights. Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and St. Patrick’s Day, for example, presents good moneymaking opportunities.
Newer dealers, however, don’t get the prime hours. Therefore, croupiers often have to be on the job for a while before they start getting better shifts. Of course, they can always fill in for long-time workers who need time off.
Shifts normally fall into the standard 8-hour range. These shifts can run up to 10 or 12 hours, though, when a casino is short-staffed or just needs their best dealers out on the floor.
As you can see, this job offers both pros and cons. The good parts include benefits, potentially large tips, and unique experiences.
The base pay isn’t very good, but the benefits and tips can more than make up for this. As for the experiences, casino dealers meet some interesting characters along the way.
Downsides to this job include rude players, inconsistent pay, and, potentially, the atmosphere. Most of the gamblers are okay, but some can really make a dealer’s life tougher with their antics.
The pay is largely dependent on tips, meaning a dealer doesn’t always know how much they’ll make. Regarding the atmosphere, the constant noises and chatter can inspire headaches after months or years in the business.
Like any other job, being a casino dealer has its high and low points. It can certainly be worthwhile, though, to the right person.