Dealer School--week oneSorry for the delay, folks. Power was out most of yesterday and I had to deal Monte Carlo just after it came on, then got back very late. I love talking about gambling, but even I have my limits. Anyways, here is a bit about how dealer training started and is going. After school is out I will have even more on my main blog, some of which will be repeated here and some of which will not. Be sure to read both!
Day One: 150+ people in my class! As you would expect, a good part of this class was devoted to "hosuekeeping" issues such as handing out name badges; making sure everyone parked in the right place; and a discussion of rules and expectations with Q & A. We all had received a copy of the rules but they read them again. The bigger ones involved secutiry and were along the line of "don't go where you shouldn't be." Another was, "no gambling in this casino at all from now on, anytime." We were even advised not to even have it look as if we might be gambling by say sitting next to a friend who was playing slots, which is all there is right now. Some of the questions started to border on the absurd, eg: "If my neighbor's cousing who I met at a party a few years ago sits at ny table should I tell them I can't deal to them?" That wasn't an actual question, but it was close.
Then there was a bit about each instructor and casino life in general. This was 7:00 at night and they reminded us someone was getting up to go to work at a casino right now. Message being if you want a 9-5/M-F job this is not the place. Then some warning, well-strong advice, that what happens at the table needs to stay at the table. No talk that say Barack Obama, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates were playing $1,000 a hand after a Trilateral Commiossion Meeting because if that becomes public they will not return to tip.
The only skill on day one was holding and cutting cheques. "Chips" are used for bingo cards, you play with "cheques." Holding and fiddling with 20 at a time felt unusual plus made your hand actually sore. But cutting cheques is required for any game so we were told to practice picking them up and cutting them. When we were done with that we were told to practice a little more. After break we were told to come back and practice. At dismissal there was a suggestion that with free time at home we should practice. And after that, by the way, we should practice.
Day two we were issued two decks of cards. Like cutting cheques, the way you would naturally try to handle them and the "casino way" are different. Much stress was put on the fact that cards are controlled from the factory floor to the casino floor and as dealers you are part of that control. A deck of cards that gets out could cost millions if the limits were high enough. Even opening the first deck the correct way was difficlult. I think I can give an example of these hand motions. When you first try them it is like when you first get contact lenses. It takes a bit of practice but sooner or later you are putting them in and taking them out easily. Same with handling the cheques and cards.
Terminology training continues since we learned to "riffle" cards, not shuffle them. No normal person would shuffle cards this way unless you were taught how. Again at the end of the night I had a claw and not a hand. Midway thru the night we were asked if we "think we might want to learn craps." Can't get much more noncommital than that so I took the test. No idea how I did, some of math they asked was hard to do in the 90 seconds or so we seemed to have, and they did put the time on the paper.
Third day was 95% practice of days one and two. Word on the street is 20 or so people didn't come from day one to day two and a few people were asked to leave the earlier classes. Our class seems pretty much sharp people with a day job while a mid-morniong start will attract more out-of-work people. Not that every unemployed person is a slacker, but as they say, the best way to get hired is to have a job already.
Tune in next week for more of this advneture
Sounds similiar to my first experiences. And while a few things will seem strange, you will get used to it pretty quickly.
As to the person asking questions bordering on the absurd, they were doing the smart thing. The first thing I would tell anyone starting or working in a casino is Cover Your Ass. Even if it is your second cousin twice removed next door neigbours brothers mailman, or anyone you know in the vaguest sense, you should at least inform the pit boss. Better looking over cautious, than them thinking you were hiding something, colluding or cheating.
Other than that, great blog post.
(meant to put this in the other post. sorry for the Double Post)
@Croupier--thanks for the comments, check back next sunday for more updates. BTW: I understand CYA but it was a matter of "you had to be there. The trainer all but said "better safe than sorry" and yet people still wanted to have every situation codifed.
Dealing Monte Carlo Nights part 3If you want to get a part time job doing Monte Carlo Night Parties it is pretty simple, but there is some inside info.
1. Be proactive and call them. While you might find an ad looking for help that will only put you in line with many other people. 2 of the three companies I have worked for I found on my own. When they do look, they first use word of mouth.
2. If you do not know how to deal, go to a casino and watch. Concentrate on how the dealer handles the cards and the chips. Watch the motions. Don’t get hung up on shuffling or setting things for the eye, you won’t need to do that. Do notice the order of what they do. Consider practicing a little at home first.
3. Learn blackjack first. It is by far the most popular and in-demand game at these gigs. After that are the carnival games. “Wheels” can be explained to any intelligent person in less than a minute. Let-it-Ride or Three Card Poker are sometimes played but usually the same person who has been there forever works them so don’t worry much about them. Roulette croupiers are sometimes needed but not often as there is only one table. Craps seems to also be handled by someone who has been there forever so learn about it and ask to be trained if you like as craps dealers make more.
4. Be available! The person who gets assignments is the one who takes assignments.
5. Ask if they have a dress code. Mostly you need to buy a tuxedo shirt and bow tie plus wear black pants. Burlington Coat Factory carries these cheap, about $15. Wear the tux shirt even if they say a white dress shirt is permitted. It looks better and shows initiative. Ask if they have a tie color requirement.
6. Get to your first assignment early and practice. Just a few hands, maybe a shoe. People who do this tend to be friendly “people persons” and will help if asked. You will feel more confident if you warm up at first.
7. Have fun! This is not a real casino so you will not have that pressure. On an hourly basis this pays twice or more what you would get at Wal-Mart with less physical effort. There is something to be said for that.
Dealing Monte Carlo Nights Part 2Here is “the rest of the story.”
A declining economy sent be back to the city of my birth in 2008. The most important thing was to find a “survival job” or maybe two and get neutral cash-flow in my life. I found one but spent all of my days looking for better things. One day I wondered if I could find some more dealing work? No ads on craigslist but why wait for an ad that many never come. A quick google search turned up a suspect. No “career” section but I sent an email saying “do you need dealers?” to the general information address.
This is a case-study in not waiting for things to come to you because the reply came back within hours, “hell yes I need some, and what are you doing Friday evening?”
They had a huge college-freshman orientation gig and needed virtually anybody. “Training” here was somewhat less formal and consisted of me asking and being told the rules after I asked(2:1 BJ, S-S17, re-splits unlimited, double any two cards, one card only on split A-A, five card Charlie) then told it was a “fun” event and on those events play loose with the rules. My feeling was there were people who actually needed to be told how to deal and I could show myself as a valuable employee by needing minimal supervision.
The night went fine, and I was told “you did great.” More calls came and it was a nice, little extra job to have. Still is. Strangely I eventually got listed with a second company by the same, unsolicited method and they too said, “are you busy this weekend?”
Some things I learned after just a few gigs:
1. I can tell if someone plays for real within 3 hands or so.
2. Most people have no idea how to play, nor do they care to learn. This is why casinos get away with so many bad rules.
3. A dealer who does not know BJ basic strategy is not really a dealer and will *never* be a good one.
4. Even with about a 2% player advantage I have seen few players go down 10 units and I never once saw it when they flat-bet BS play. NOT ONCE. Remember this when you are told just 1% difference based on a small rule (e.g.: 6:5) “makes no difference” by your friends who want to play on the strip instead of taking The Duece to Freemont Street.
Dealing Monte Carlo Nights--While I wait for the real casino to tell me when to show up for school, some background on doing it on a lower level.
This past Saturday I had another Monte Carlo Night gig. These are not a bad way to earn some exrra cash. You will get far more than you would on a per-hour basis vs making pizzas. But you will get few hours per month, form maybe one gig in the summertime to 2 per weekend near Christmas.
For those of you who know the games, in other words 99% of you on this site, you might be suprised how few people know how to really play. I don't mean they don't know basic strategy, I mean they know ZERO about the games. So if you do it you will need to be an instructor as well. Since it is "play money" you can get away with that.
Here is part one of my story........
Back in 2006 I worked for a very large company who did a bang-up job on their Christmas (they called it "Holiday") Party. Fireworks and all. They had a "casino night" in pure fun mode. Sit down, get chips, play until you lose it all, get more chips, give it all back when you left. After all the food I could take I sat down to what was the worst dealer I ever saw or heard of.
He seemed a nice kid, but he actually told me his "training" was all of 10 minutes of having the rules explained to him an hour before. He dealt the cards face down, didn't understand much at all, and was confused. I didn't know 10% then what I know now, but even at that low standard I had to leave his table.
I found a better dealer and chatted things up with her. Years before a temp-agency told me they got calls for dealers so I assumed it still worked that way. What I learned was there were now companies who put these parties on ready to roll, delaers and all. The pay wasn't bad from what she told me, enough for a very nice dinner for two. I left and forgot about the whole thing.
Months later I saw a craigslist ad for delaers. My thought was if those people could do it I could since they seemed as dumb as me, I replied. The woman seemed to care about what I knew about the game, I told her I played a little and knew the rules. She gave me an address to meet in a few days.
The address was her house, which she and her husband used as an office. They had a craps and BJ table in a spare bedroom. Here is where I learned dealing looks simple, but if you are not shown a few basics you will take forever to pick them up. "Training" was 90 minutes of tell-show-do. Still this was the best training I ever saw for this level.
Then in a few weeks I got a gig. As the first time I was ever "help" it was hard not to take any food or drinks, but I fell into a routine. This company hustled tips for you like a 1970s Fremont Street Craps Crew. Not a bad night in the end, but I never was able to work for them again since I had a weird work schedule. Still, I remember what I learned in training:
1. Deal left to right, pay right to left.
2. God gave you two hands, use both to deal.
3. Cut chips for payoffs, don't count them
4. Remove BJs and losing hands right away, this avoids confsuion later on.
5. Place the cut card so you have a deck left.
Next time, getting back into it!
More on the interview day.After the three interviews I was given a ticket to a presentation and assured this was the last step. Unfortunately I missed the early one by a few minutes so I killed an hour waiting for the next one. Not a bad thing since if you get there early you could chat a little with what would be your new employer(s) and coworkers. Lest there be any doubt, the room was decorated with "Congratulations" balloons and streamers.
This presentation was broken down into a few people talking about the casino and how great it will be, then time for questions. One higher-up said he started in casinos after being a banker for years. (that hit close to home :-) ) Others had other stories. The thing I took from it all was that there is no typical casino employee. The room was a mix of kids out of college, mid-career changers, dealers from other joints, retirees, and many others. One even dressed the part with a tuxedo-shirt like a dealer might wear.
The benefit package sounds good out of the box. Medical/Dental, a captive (no vesting period) 401(k), decent time off, free parking, and food. Yes, food. A good employee dining room is important in the casino business since you get more breaks but not a true "lunch" period. Some of the food is free and the rest is subsidized. But between food and parking I'll be saving quite a bit.
Some of the questions the group has mus be answered "we are working on that." For a new place I can understand most of that, but it was a little frustrating. The questions that came in quickly separated into those from total newbies to those who researched or were in the industry. You could instantly tell. Again, I was happy with how it was all presented and no one seemed to be trying to hide anything. I think I will like the management style based on what I have seen so far.
Now the hard part. It will be up to two weeks to be told when and where (in the building) to report for training. Waiting can be a killer. Next report when there is something new to report.
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