The actual wages – not so great. Nationwide, you’re looking at making maybe 20k annually on average – in Vegas, closer to 30-35k, although based on amount of service, employer and ability level, you might be able to take in 50k or more in salary.
However, like the restaurant service industry, your paid salary isn’t where you make most of your money. While the players at your tables want to leave winners, you will find that most of them are actually pretty generous when it comes to taking care of their dealer. There are always a handful who are awful tippers, but the generous ones tend to more than make up for it.
At poker cash games, a player will often toss the dealer a buck or two each time they scoop a small pot – five or more in big pots… and if dealing on a high roller table (a table where sharks and unknowing businessmen play for huge moolah), you could get tipped twenty, fifty… maybe even a hundred dollars or more on a single hand. Tips on table games (blackjack, Pai Gow, Three-Card Poker, etc.) are work similarly, while tips are taken directly out of tournament buy-ins.
Tips are collected in “toke boxes.” Each time a dealer collects one, he clacks it on the box (to alert the pit boss and “eye in the sky” that he is depositing a tip and not up to something shady). The dealers’ tips are then pooled together and counted by a “toke committee” (also a name used by certain fraternity organizations), which calculates how much tippage 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 are really raking in between 50-70k a year. Not bad for playing games with people all day long. Jackpot.