Chip Houseman shows up to work at 5:50PM, a few minutes early for the start of his shift. He arrives in his workout attire—he hasn't actually come directly from a workout, but he's sweating profusely anyway. The six-block walk in the scorching Nevada sun was plenty of exercise for the day and he knows better than to walk to work in press uniform.
He enters Caesar's Palace through the employee entrance and makes his way to the restroom to freshen up and change. He pulls the red vest/black slacks and tie combo out of his bag and gives them a quick de-linting. By 6:00PM on the dot, he's out on the floor and ready to get the cards in the air.
Today he's starting out on a Pai Gow table. Chip's been with the casino for over fifteen years now—in that time he's become proficient at dealing a number of different games. He enjoys the freedom to mix things up and deal at a variety of tables. It keeps things interesting and makes his days go by faster. He feels bad for the newbies who are forced to deal on the dollar-limit poker tables for eight hours a day.
Chip remembers those days—and how much he wanted to hit his head against the wall.
Ten minutes or so pass before he gets a player. A large gentleman sidles up to the table and plops down a handful of twenties. Chip takes the stack of bills and counts them out onto the table, laying them out in sets of five.
"Changing three hundred," he calls to the pit boss, which is a fancy term for the floor manager who handles all things dealer-related. Unfortunately she's busy dealing with a situation at another table, but the cameras can prove that Chip has followed procedure—and that's really all that matters.
Chip counts out $300 in chips and slides them over to the gentleman, who has a very businessman kind of appearance. The man counts his chips to make sure he isn't being shorted (definitely a businessman), and then places his first.
"How are you doing today?" Chip asks.
"Great," says the surly gentleman. He then proceeds to check his phone.
"Okiedoke," Chip thinks. "Not a talker." That's fine by him. He's more than happy to deal in silence for a while.
Chip pushes a button on the machine that dispenses the Pai Gow hands, then deals out eight hands, including one to himself. He can tell this guy is here to play and not to chit-chat or dilly-dally.
The gentleman looks at his cards, grunts discontentedly, and sets his hand. Chip spreads out his own hand, shows that his is best, and scoops up the player's chips. A good start for the casino—not such a good start for this player's mood.
By 7:30PM, Chip's got a table full of loser—er, players. A couple fast talkers, an older barfly, a husband and wife who scream "not from 'round here," and the crabby businessman. With such a varied play style, he knows his tips will likely be dependent on his ability to deal the greatest number of hands in the shortest period of time. He distributes the hands to the players as quickly as possible.
At 9:10PM, Chip gets his first twenty-minute break of the day/night. He grabs some grub in the cafeteria, the employee discount being one of his better perks. When he returns to the floor, Chip sees that his schedule has him on a blackjack table. "Sweet," he thinks. "All I have to do is add." Chip's a smart guy, but that doesn't mean he wants to work too hard at it.
Finally, at 10:30PM the pit boss moves Chip over to the poker room. He enjoys dealing poker more than any other game. Much of the enjoyment comes from his many years spent playing the game—it's the thing that brought him to the casinos in the first place.
Also, there's less animosity aimed in his direction on the poker tables. Everybody thinks the dealer is stacking the cards against them, but when it comes to a competitive game of Five-Card Draw or Texas Hold'em, all the players know it's everyone for themselves.
Once 11:00PM hits, the formerly friendly table room turns into a four-table large buy-in tournament. This is where the real money's made. These are high-rolling professionals who take their game very seriously—and that includes treating the dealer well.
Chip doesn't typically root for anyone during these things, but if someone has been good to him consistently he wouldn't mind seeing that person win the tournament. The nice ones usually give a percentage of the prize money to the dealer on the last table.
Finally at 2:00AM, the tables are cleared and the last of the gamblers are ushered off the floor into taxi cabs or limousines. Chip counts his toke box and hands in the winnings—a fairly respectable night tonight even if he didn't end up dealing on the last table at the tournament.
Exhausted, Chip clocks out and heads home to watch a movie on Netflix before bed at 5:00AM. In Vegas, the best times to make money are the hours when the sun is down. Chip doesn't mind it—the city glows a special kind of neon in the desert night.