Average Salary: $20,210
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $844,000
We've got some good news and some bad news. The bad news first: the base salary for a gaming dealer—even one in a gambling mecca like Vegas—is incredibly low. You're typically making minimum wage on a part-time basis, which means your paycheck is smaller than some of your customers lose on one hand. We're talking $18,630 nationally, with slightly better earnings on the Vegas Strip (source).
The good news is you don't do this because of your hourly wage, you do it because of the generous tips of the players at your table. Much like the restaurant service industry, your paid salary isn't where you make most of your money.
Even though gamblers play to win cash, you'll find that most of them are actually pretty generous when it comes to taking care of their dealer. There are a lot of superstitions involved in the "sport," and one of those is that the good karma from tipping will lead to better cards or bigger wins.
It's kind of like a spiritual bribe—the best part being you really don't have any control over the outcome of the game. The player is just hoping that your chi does.
A player will often toss the dealer a buck or two each time they scoop a small pot (a.k.a. the chips on the table). On a large pot, you could get tipped twenty, fifty, even a hundred dollars and up on a single hand.
Tips are collected in toke boxes. The dealers' tips are then pooled together and counted to calculate how much tip-age you're owed based on the number of hours you worked. After all is said and done, you might make as much in tips as you do from your employer, meaning that you're really raking in at least $40,000, occasionally reaching up to $70,000 a year (source). Not bad for helping people sit around playing games all day.