Working as a Casino Dealer
By Nick Kallos
Nick Kallos explains a
dealing procedure to a Baccarat student
This article will help you understand what it's
like to deal at a casino:
A typical schedule is one hour of dealing followed by a 20 minute break,
or 40 minutes of dealing followed by a 20 minute break. This cycle
continues until you go home at the end of your shift. Some of the
smaller casinos may leave you on the table for a couple of hours if
you're running "hot" (winning the player's money). But once you get into
a larger casino you'll find that they have more regular schedules.
The Extra Board
Most new dealers are hired on a full-time basis, but if you receive a
part-time schedule your name will appear on the "Extra Board" which is a list of
dealers that can be called in at any time and on any day. It's important to make yourself available for these
erratic schedules because your flexibility will be appreciated and
you'll be the first to move into a full-time position when it becomes
Full-time dealers usually work in 8 hour shifts and have a regular
schedule (the same hours and the same days off each week). In addition
to getting a full 40 hours of work each week you'll also quality for
various benefits including health insurance.
Get to Work Early
Always clock in at the correct time, or a few minutes early if you're
instructed to do so by your floor person. You should plan to be in the
dealer room at least 10 minutes before your shift begins. This will give
you some time to read any new information posted in the dealer room and
to check the tokes (to see how much you made in tips the previous day).
How Much Did I Make
Most casinos collect the money in the toke boxes once every 24
hours. A special "toke committee" calculates each dealer's share based
on the hours you worked within that 24 hour period. Some small casinos
pay you in cash the following day, but the bigger casinos include the
tokes in your paycheck.
The Buzz Session
Your floor person may meet with you and the other dealers prior to your
shift. A typical meeting may include an explanation of new games or
procedures, a discussion of special offers the casino is promoting, or
other information that you'll need during your shift. These meetings
often end with an enthusiastic "rah-rah-rah" cheer to get everyone in
the mood to entertain the players.
Which Table Do I Go To?
Most casinos use a "road map" to ensure that the incoming dealers will
tap out the correct people. The road map is prepared prior to your shift
and usually assigns a group of four dealers to handle three tables, with
one dealer always on a break. You'll check the road map and go directly
to your assigned table, unless you are assigned "first break". The
dealer who gets "first break" goes on the first 20 minute break.
Tapping Into an Open Game
If the table is already open, tap the dealer lightly on the shoulder and
say something like "John coming in." A good dealer will introduce you to
the players as she leaves the table, making a nice smooth transition for
everyone. The previous dealer leaves the table by clearing her hands,
showing them front and back and stepping away to the right. You must
step up to the table immediately and take control of the game at this
point. A good way to get things started is to introduce yourself to the
players, ask how they're doing and wish them good luck. Then you'll
begin dealing as you normally would.
Opening a Game
You'll often be assigned to a table that has not yet been opened. Stand
at the table and wait for the floor person to unlock the lid (the cover
that locks into place over the chips, keeping them secure). Once the lid
has been unlocked you'll remove it and place it under table. Remove the
piece of paper that shows the total amount of chips that were in the
tray when it was locked. Both you and the floor person will count the
chips in the rack and verify that the totals match the previous closing
amount. Both of you will sign the slip, showing that you agree with the
count. You'll then push the slip into the drop box slot. The drop box is
where you put all currency that you exchange for chips during the game.
Verifying a New Deck of
The floor person will open one (or more) new decks of cards depending on
the type of game you're dealing. The floor person will check to see if
all the cards are there, remove the jokers, and set the deck on the
table in front of you. Now it's your turn to check the deck. You'll
spread the cards face up across the table to ensure that the deck is
complete. Then you'll scoop up the cards, turn the deck over and spread
them across the table again so you can examine the backs. Be sure that
there are no identifying marks or print errors on the backs of the
cards. After that you'll shuffle the deck according to your casino's
New decks are also brought in during games to
replace old decks. Most casinos do this once every 2-3 hours. When this
happens you'll follow the same procedure to check the cards.
Dealing the Game
You'll want to deal an accurate game based on the procedures set up by
your casino. Security is very important so make sure you're practicing
good game protection. Be aware of all the bets on the table and be
careful not to reveal your hole card when you bury it. Walk your game so
you can keep the entire table in your line of vision. Never turn
around or take your eyes off the game.
Keep in mind that everything you do is being
watched by your floor person and the surveillance cameras. Your handling
of cash, chips and cards must clearly show what's happening in each
transaction. If you make a mistake, don't try to fix it yourself. Call
the floor person over so that he can resolve it in a reasonable way.
In addition to dealing an accurate game you'll
want to keep the action moving and maintain a friendly dialogue with the
players. Try to mention any special offers or promotions the casino is
featuring that day. If the players are having fun they'll play longer
and there's a good chance you'll get some tokes from them. Be sure to
thank them for the tokes!
Getting Tapped Out
You'll normally get tapped out of the game after 40 minutes to an hour.
Thank the players, wish them good luck, clear your hands and exit to the
right. Now it's your turn to take a 20 minute break in the dealer's
room. When you return to the pit you'll tap out the next person in your
There is no such thing as a "lunch break" when you work as a dealer. You
have to eat during one of your 20 minute breaks. Some larger casinos
have Employee Dining Rooms where you can eat free but you've got to go
there, eat and come back in 20 minutes. This is why many dealers bring a
sack lunch to save time.
Use Your Breaks to Learn
You get a lot of breaks during your shift so be sure to spend some of
this time observing and learning new games. Dealing in a smaller casino
gives you a great opportunity to learn additional games. Always
pick the best dealers and ask them to help you learn the games you don't
know. This is the best way to secure your job and your future.
-- Nick Kallos
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