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What does a dealer do?5 March 2017
To dig more deeply into exactly what a blackjack dealer does, I contacted Nick Kallos, who owns and operates a dealer’s school in Las Vegas. Kallos spent 16 years working in the gaming industry before opening the Casino Gaming School of Nevada in Las Vegas 25 years ago (www.learn2deal.com). During this time, his school has graduated over 10,000 students. Kallos is a leading authority on dealing protocols, and has been featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, ABC PrimeTime, Vegas Live and Frommer’s Travel Guide.
Note: To avoid the awkward usage of “he and she,” I’ve arbitrarily chosen to use the feminine case when referring to dealers (and floor supervisors). Kallos’s responses apply to dealing procedures normally used in Las Vegas casinos. Casinos in other gaming jurisdictions may use the same, or similar, procedures.
What are the different shifts that a dealer works? How many consecutive days does she usually work before getting time off?
Casinos are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. If you want to become a blackjack dealer, you have to get used to working different shifts. Casinos stagger the start time so that dealers who are working day shift will begin their shift at either 9, 10, 11 a.m. or noon. Dealers assigned to work swing shift begin at either 5, 6, 7, or 8 p.m., and grave shift begins at either 1, 2, 3 or 4 a.m. Normally dealers work a 40-hour week but with the poor economy, there are a lot more board jobs. (Sometimes a dealer is hired as a part-timer and her name goes on the “extra board,” which lists the dealers working a part-time schedule and who can be called in to work at any time and day. By being flexible and making themselves available for call-ins, dealers on the board will usually be the first to move into a full-time position when it becomes available.)
How long is a shift? How much time does a dealer get for lunch or dinner?
Dealers work eight hours per shift, usually dealing for 40 minutes (sometimes one hour), and then go on a break for 20 minutes. When a dealer is on break, a relief dealer will take her place. (When a dealer starts her shift, she checks the “road map” that tells her which table she is assigned to work. Usually, a group of four dealers is assigned to work three blackjack tables, with one dealer always on break. The dealer who is assigned “first break” goes on the first 20-minute break.) Dealers don’t get paid-time to eat lunch or dinner; instead, they eat during one of their breaks.
What does a dealer do to open a game at the start of a shift?
If the table hasn’t been open yet, the dealer must stand and wait until the floor supervisor unlocks the lid (i.e., the cover that locks into place over the chips, keeping them secure), and then places it under the table. Inside the rack is a slip of paper (known as an “opener”) that lists the total amount of chips that were in the chip tray when it was locked. The dealer, along with the floor supervisor, must count the chips in the rack to verify that the total amount of chips agrees with the previous closing amount. If the count is correct, the dealer and floor supervisor will sign the slip and the dealer inserts the signed slip into the drop box (i.e., the box where the dealer puts all the players’ currency that she will exchange for chips during a game). After the dealer verifies the chip count, she must then verify the new decks of cards. First, the floor supervisor will check that all the cards are present in a deck, remove the jokers, and set the deck on the table in front of the dealer. The dealer spreads the cards face up across the layout and examines them to be sure that all the cards are present. She then scoops up the cards and spreads them face down on the table to examine the back of the cards (for any print errors or identifying marks). After every deck is verified, the dealer must mix (i.e., wash) and shuffle the cards, using the casino’s shuffling procedure.
Before a blackjack dealer goes on break or leaves her shift, she normally claps her hands and turns them over. What is that all about?
When a dealer leaves the table, she “clears her hands” by showing the players (and the eye in the sky) the front and back of her hands to show that she has nothing in them. The dealer exits the table to the right and the relief dealer (who should always stand to the dealer’s left) then takes over the dealing (this transition to the relief dealer should occur smoothly and the relief dealer should immediately take control of running the game).
When a blackjack dealer deals the cards in a live game, it looks routine. However, what are some of the things a dealer must be aware of when she is dealing?
Dealers must always deal an accurate game based on the procedures established by the casino. Security and game protection is very important when dealing. Some of the things that dealers must always do are deal the cards from left to right, remove the losing chips and pay the winners from right to left, be aware of all the bets on the table, especially first and third base, and she should “walk” her game to keep the entire table in her line of vision. Dealers should always keep their body parallel to the table and never turn around or take their eyes off the game.
What happens if a dealer makes a procedural mistake or errs in making a payoff?
If this happens, the dealer should never handle the problem herself. She should call over her floor supervisor, who has the final say in rectifying the mistake.
What other jobs can an experienced blackjack dealer apply for or grow into?
The next step up for a blackjack dealer is to apply for a floor supervisor position when it becomes available (a floor supervisor watches, and is responsible for, a grouping of tables in a pit). Next up the ladder is a pit or shift boss position. (A pit boss is responsible for a particular pit in the casino and the shift boss is responsible for all the activities in the casino on a shift.) Your chances of being promoted to these positions are greater if you have experience dealing more than one game.
How long does it take to learn how to become a blackjack dealer? If a person decides to attend a dealer’s school, what are the costs?
It usually takes three to six weeks of training to be certified from a dealer’s school (depends on how frequently the student attends classes and practices). Tuition is about $300 to learn how to be a blackjack dealer. It’s best to sign up for, and learn, one game at a time.
Once a dealer graduates from a dealer’s school, how does she get a job with a casino?
Usually, the dealers must audition for the job. They should go to the audition “crisp and clean from head to toe,” get there early, be friendly and outgoing, have a great attitude, never falsify anything on the application, be prepared to take a drug test, and be patient. You should also keep this in mind: It is not where you start as a dealer that is important; it is where you end up your career.
Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is the editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter and host of smartgaming.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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