How to become a dealer in a Casino?

During my 10 years of work as a part-time casino dealer, I earned enough money to pay off my first mortgage.

I worked at the Leelanau Sands Casino in northern Michigan, dealing blackjack, roulette and some forms of poker. The $14 per hour I earned between my base rate and tips in 1993 is the equivalent of $23 per hour today, according to the BLS inflation calculator.

Most of my co-workers loved their jobs. Many are still working there (or at a nearbycasino with the same owners) 17 years after I quit, and they tell me that they now make over $20 per hour, plus have decent benefits. Some have even moved to management positions.

Could You Be a Casino Dealer?

Do you have what it takes? It helps to be friendly, but you also have to be able to politely handle rude customers. People get upset when they lose, and will sometimes even accuse you of plotting against them (sadly, I’m not kidding).

Fortunately, when they’re winning, they’ll often act like your best friends and share their good luck with you in the form of tips.

Is your body ready for work as a dealer? You’ll spend most of each shift standing, although poker dealers typically get to sit. You also need at least a normal amount of manual dexterity to deal blackjack, poker, roulette or craps. And you’ll need to be willing to work in a smoky environment, although that’s becoming less important with better air filtering systems, fewer smokers and more regulation.

Naturally, you’ll have to be able to count to 21 to be a blackjack dealer. Most people don’t have too much trouble quickly adding up the value of the cards as they’re dealt out, and players will certainly correct you when an error is not in their favor. However, if you make too many mistakes, you’ll likely lose your job.

Other dealing positions often require more skill. Poker, for example, involves keeping track of many players and several rounds of betting. Craps is such a fast-paced, high-energy (and high-stress) game that I quit before I even finished training.

Why Become a Casino Dealer?

Here are some of the reasons people choose to work in a casino:

  • Minimal training required
  • No degree necessary
  • Decent pay
  • Good benefits
  • Fun environment
  • Plenty of places to work all over the world

That last one is nice if you are uncertain about where you’ll end up later in life, or want to work while you travel. The American Casino Guide lists casinos in 42 states, and there are 111 in Canada, according to the listings in the World Casino Directory. As a casino dealer, then, the odds are good that wherever you choose to live, there will be a place to work nearby.

There’s also real variety in the types of casinos where you might like to work. Perhaps you would prefer a small casino in the north woods (like the place I worked), rather than a big place in Vegas. Or you might want to work on cruise ships. If you don’t want to stay out at sea for days on end, you can apply to work day-cruise operations, like the Big M Casino in Florida. Their cruises last six hours, and you only deal when out in international waters, which is less than five hours of each trip.

It’s fun to work in a casino if you like a fast-paced environment where thousands of dollars can come or go in minutes. Where I was employed, the craps dealers in particular loved their jobs, perhaps in part because they work as a team.

How Much Can You Make?

As with most industries, pay varies quite a bit.Some dealers report incomes near minimum wage, while others say they make up to $55, 000 per year, according to Glassdoor. The Casino Institute says:

An average Casino Dealer makes over $50, 000 their first year based on a 40 hour work week. Casinos that allow Dealers to keep their own tips have been reported to make over $100, 000 per year. [sic]

That may be a biased source, since they are selling training. Here are some of the factors that determine how much you make:

  • The type of casino you work for
  • Whether you keep your own tips
  • The particular position you get
  • How well you treat the customers

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