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Vegas Dealer

The Real Poop

Imagine a job where people ask you to "hit them" all day long and you can't get arrested for granting their request.

Welcome to Las Vegas—land of big dreams and empty pockets. Here's where people come to have some good, clean, adult fun. That is, if you can call losing thousands of dollars on a game that you know is rigged against you "fun."

Ingredients include a dash of desperation and a pinch of bad decisions. (Source)

The card game (and roulette wheel, and craps table) is such a large part of the mystique of the place, going to Vegas without gambling would be like going to France and not tasting any cheese, or journeying to Canada and not riding a moose. To a majority of visitors, plopping down at least a few bucks at the tables is an almost necessary ingredient for the complete Vegas experience.

Behind those tables are the dealers (or croupiers in roulette). It's their job to make sure that each game goes smoothly and quickly, and that each of their paying and playing customers has a good time—which can be difficult when one of said customers is down half their annual salary. Speaking of which, dealers make around $40,000 a year (including tips) to manage the game (source). That's not a lot, but it's more than others get out of Sin City.

You might think being able to shuffle the cards without dropping them everywhere is enough, but you'd be underestimating the skill involved. Dealing isn't the easiest thing in the world.

You have to be pretty stellar with your math skills. You won't need to draw on a calculus background, but you do need to be able to add up a series of numbers very quickly, make correct change in multi-player situations, and recognize patterns in a hurry. The smart money is on those who can focus on numbers without breaking down into a puddle of goo inside their dealer's vest.

I know I just lost a month's rent but you're making me feel okay about it. (Source)

There's also the customer service side of the job. It helps if you're personable—if you've got the smooth talk and the confident calls, it can make the gamblers at your table feel more at ease (even while you're taking their cash).

As a dealer you're providing a service, and that service is part entertainment. We're not talking funny voices or magic tricks (please don't)—it's the cards themselves that provide most of the entertainment. Everybody wants to win, but if they're losing they want to have the best time losing that they possibly can. 

If that means cracking (decent) jokes, telling stories, or just smiling and laughing along with everyone else, you do what has to be done so that those at your table have an absolute blast. Because when people are having fun throwing money around, they're more likely to throw some over to you.

Dexterity is probably your most important physical trait. Efficiency when handing out the cards is paramount, and you can't accidentally flip up or expose a card—especially mid-hand on a game of Texas Hold'em—or you're not gonna be too popular.

Focus is good too—you really don't want to miscount a player's payout or overlook which person has a winning hand. The ladies and gentlemen at your table have a lot of bananas at stake and if you mess with their winnings they'll quickly turn into angry chimpanzees. It doesn't matter how snappy your wit—they'll stop throwing you tips and start throwing anything else they can get their hands on.

The environment in a casino can be exciting to the occasional visitor, but don't expect to love it if you work there. Have you considered that you'll have to listen to those obnoxious slot machine noises all day, every day? 

Not to mention all the noises made by people losing at the slot machines. It's a certain kind of routine sadness that you never quite get used to. The place can drag you down pretty quickly if you don't have a good head on your shoulders, so stay positive and try not to let it get to you. What happens in Vegas stays out of your home life.

Of course it doesn't have to be in Vegas; you can be a dealer anywhere there's a casino or game room that'll hire you. But everyone knows Vegas is where the real money is. You'll get paid more money by your employer, and you'll make better tips.

So if you're seriously considering dealing as a career path, be prepared to make the move to Lost Wages, Nevada. They'll leave a neon light on for you.