I worked in Poker and Blackjack for 35 years starting in Las Vegas in 1973. If you have questions that you would like to ask a professional in the business, here is your chance

When I meet new people and they learn that I worked in Poker and Blackjack in multiple casinos for 35 years, the questions start pouring in. So, here is your chance, ask away.

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Ok, I will start. How much money does a Poker or Blackjack dealer make in a year?

Answer: A new full-time dealer in Poker and Blackjack in a Las Vegas style casino makes between $60,000 and $100,000 per year, starting the first year. You need a clean police record; you will take a drug test and it is best if you learn how to deal in a professional dealing school before you audition for the job.

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Did you see many people attempting to cheat at cards, and how many do you estimate are buried in the Nevada desert?

I am curious about “full time”. I have had some full time positions where more than 30 hours a week was considered full time but we were scheduled or expected to work 50-70. I have no idea about the realities of this but I wonder if a tired dealer would cost the casino money.
PS. I have never even been to Las Vegas.

$60,000 and $100,000 per year

I remember playing in the Bellagio circa 2019 and asking a dealer how much he made. He said they only get minimum wage + tips and he had been dealing in Vegas for almost 20 years.

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If you are playing at a NL Hold’em table, how much does the dealer expect to be tipped when you win a pot?

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Wow, did you just open a can of worms. Where to start.

Keep in mind that I started dealing in Las Vegas in the 70s in casinos that were controlled by the mob. Here is a for instance - While I worked on swing shift in the poker room at the Dunes poker room, about 1978, we were told that after midnight we saw nothing. No matter want we did see, we saw nothing. This was a high limit poker room with daily games of 50/100 - 100/200 - and 200/400. Starting at midnight the mob brought in teams of card sharks that would use various ways to cheat the tourists out of a lot of money. They regularly used two, two-man teams and one three-man team. It made it a lot easier when the dealer was told to look the other way. I thought the three-man team was the most fun to watch. They would start up a game of 50/100 seven card stud low only. Each of the three had a different method of how to hold out low cards beneath the table and switch them back in to win a pot. We were told to never count the deck. Sometimes the deck in play would be missing as many as 9 cards due to the hold outs. The youngest member of the team wore blue jeans that were made out of mostly patches. At least one patch on each leg was a pocket to store his holdout cards in. The oldest member, a nice guy about 60 wore loose black pants that he would pull up on one leg to form a pocket where he held his holdouts. I have seen him stand up and walk to the water cooler to get a cup of water and come back with the cards still hidden in the pants crease. That always made me smile and when he saw it, he would smile back as he walked back to the table. These were working men doing a job cheating at cards for a living. When their workday was over, they had to kick back to the house a portion of their winnings, I do not know how much. I did not want to know how much. I also was just a man making a living.
Speaking of which, we made a living by receiving tips from the winning players. These cheaters did not tip much but they did tip, well, mostly. On that three-man team, the player that always sat in the number one seat never tipped and it started to make me a little, well agitated, to be polite. What I started to do was once I had seen that he had accumulated his three card hold-outs, while bring in the cards for the next hand, I would crimp the edge of a card and have to call for a set up. He would quickly grab his three card holdouts and slam his hand down on the discards, saying “what’s wrong with these cards”, while placing his holdouts on top of the pile. After a couple of days of this, he started tipping like the other two.

Remember, this is back in the days of firm mob control.
Those days are long gone, and I mean gone!

You may feel safe gambling in any Vegas big casino these days. By the way, I mean in the public places that are monitored by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. If you decide to go play in a private game that is not monitored, you are on your own.
I know nothing about the smaller casinos out in the boon docks

Watch the movie “Casino” where the government came in and shut down about a half dozen casinos in one day. I was working in the Alladin Poker Room the day that happened. Suddenly about two dozen men wearing gaming control jackets came through the casino saying, sorry folks, and started escorting the customers out of the casino while at the same time putting up the bright yellow tape around all the equipment including the cage.

Ahhh, fun times - LOL

I want to add that about 20 years later I was working at a casino in Phoenix AZ. I was the Poker Room Swing Shift Tournament Director at the time. I was down to about three tournament tables and as I looked around the room, I saw two men in the entryway looking around the place. Sure enough, I recognized one of the two men as the younger cheater from the Dunes. Talk about the fickle finger of fate. I walked over to the two men and said “Hi, remember me, I used to deal poker at the Dunes a long time ago” He got real still and said, “Oh yeah, Hi.” I then said that this was a big casino and that it would take me at least five minutes before I could find a security guard. He smiled and said “Thanks”. They turned around and headed straight for the parking lot. I told the floor person in the live section that I needed to go to the bathroom and please watch my tournament for a few minutes. No problem. I then walked through the employees only door and headed directly to the security office. I had been working there for about five years and they all knew me. I asked if I could see the head of security at the time and they just pointed to his office and said knock first. This took just about 5 minutes. I told the head of security my story, and he got on his security monitor, found the right camera, backed it up, and zoomed in on the two men. "Is that them? I nodded my head and said, “Oh yeah” He said "Thank you, I will put out the word.’ By that he meant that he would have the photo copied and shown to all of his officers and send the pictures to the other casinos in the valley to be on the lookout.

I guess that is enough to start with.
More to come later on the second part of your question.

Stay safe, David

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Thank you, you just made me laugh, really.

The dealer told you exactly the right thing.
When he left you, he was smiling to himself; he did not tell a lie.

The trick is in “+ Tips”.

His minimum wage pays for the extras that get taken from his pay check - taxes on tips - SS - Med Ins - and all the others. So let us say $15 per hour for 8 hours - $120. Gone.

What he takes home on his every two-week paycheck are his tips. So let us figure that out. On a perfect day, a dealer deals 3 one half hour tables and then goes on a 30-minute break.
A total of 8 hours - 6 hours dealing - 2 hours of breaks.
That is a total of 12, 30-minute downs. During those 30 minutes the dealer deals 15 to 20 poker hands. Most hands are a one-dollar tip, sometimes more, sometimes nothing. Let’s go with a small number, let’s say 17 dollars per each 30 minute down.
$17 times 12 downs equals $204 per day - 10 days per paycheck equals $2,040 take home money per paycheck. Add to that the $120 per day in minimum wage and you see how I easily get a figure of $60,000 to $100,000 per year. The better dealers make more money, the lesser dealers make less money.
Now you made mention of the Bellagio poker room. This is one of the premier poker rooms in Vegas, if not in the United States. This poker room has higher limit stakes then most rooms do and, overall, the best dealers in the city. Believe it or not, the higher limit games are mostly a pain in the ass to deal. Not because of the limits, the dealers love to deal high limits. It is because at least half of the players are professional poker players who do this for a living. Day in, day out. On a bad day they do not tip at all, (and act accordingly, blaming the dealer when they lose a hand) and on a good day they tip begrudgingly, if at all. The dealers count on most of their tips coming from tourists who are there to have a good time and tip accordingly.
And remember, I gave you the lowest number for a dealer to make.

If you need further clarification, feel free to ask.

In the meantime, stay safe, David

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Craig, you have the right information, but are looking at it in a perverted way. There are many, many poker rooms all over the country. Some are very small rooms, and some are large. You see where it says high at $72,000, wrong. Keep in mind that the IRS has deals with employers that employees must report tips for IRS purposes. Do you think that cocktail waitresses report all of their cash tips to the IRS. Yes, you can smile now. Neither do poker dealers. The numbers you posted are what has been reported to the IRS, nothing close to reality.
Sorry to burst your bubble.

Stay safe, David

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If their main source of income is tips, poker dealers must not want to be involved in tournaments at all and strongly prefer ring games. Do casinos do something to incentivize dealing tournaments?

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I own a poker room. My dealers make 6 figures. Half is in tips.

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Craig. you are right and I am also right.
Please remember that I specified “Full Time Dealers” working in a "Las Vegas Style Casino.

OK - Full time Dealer - my definition is a dealer who works a full 40-hour five-day scheduled shift with medical benefits among other things.

A Las Vegas Style casino Poker Room. We are now talking about a Poker Room on the Las Vegas strip with 15 to 50 poker tables. There are less than a dozen of them on the strip.
(By the way, I have a relative working right now at one of those Poker Rooms as a dealer, so I know how much they make)

I am not talking about break-in poker rooms in Vegas with one to five tables who do not open their first table until after lunch and go dark by 3am.

Also, no one knows the correct figure, but there have to be at least 5 part time dealers working 30 hours or less per week for every full-time dealer out there.

All of these dealers added together do not average out to over $60,000 per year in pay, but they are all counted into that statistic you showed me.

The gentleman who asked the question specifically asked about Las Vegas dealers and the Bellagio. Under those terms, I hope you do not disagree with my specific answer. Personally, I would hate to start working in a break in house in a part time position, but we all have to start somewhere.

I personally got lucky. When I moved to Vegas in 1973, they did not even teach poker in dealing schools. I did know that the old MGM was opening up in 4 months with a large poker room which meant that there would be openings all over town in Poker Rooms who had dealers who had moved over to the new MGM. So, I went to dealing class and learned Blackjack so that I could learn how to handle chips and cards. I wanted to work for Johnny Moss who had a Poker Room at the Alladin hotel casino at the time. I accepted a job in a little hole in the wall strip bar on the strip that had three Blackjack tables. I worked Blackjack for two months before I applied for a poker dealing job with Johnny. He asked if I had any experience and I told him about the Blackjack and that I had been playing poker since I was 5 years old. Johnny smiled and said come back in three days at 6pm. I would start as a shill dealer. As you know, not everyone is that lucky. I had a plan and it worked. Part plan, part luck.

Let me guess, is your poker room in California or Washington state. I just picked those two because they have the most small poker rooms out there. you could be anywhere.

Anyway, stay safe, David

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Hi FIkayak, I liked your question.

The US Govt. has their rules regarding full time, States have their rules and Native American Casinos have their rules. Some are the same and some are different. Let’s take Las Vegas as an example. Almost all casinos on the strip have both full time and part time poker and blackjack dealers. Part time dealers on an average are not allowed to work over 30 hours per week. The casinos try to strictly enforce this rule because if an employee goes over 32 hours per week for an extended period of time, according to the law in Nevada they automatically become eligible for full time status with all the benefits which go with it. This would of course cost the casino more money, so they really try to enforce that rule.

Whoe, I just noticed the Moderator designation.
Maybe I should be asking you this question. (LOL)

You are absolutely right about the tired dealer part of the question. After the Mob got kicked out of Las Vegas and the Corperations came in, they tried to fiddle with the tried and true way of doing things in Vegas. No harm done if they had a good idea, but they had some spectacular blunders. A few casinos tried a ten-hour four-day work week in the late 1980s. Not a good idea. With an 8-hour work day, sometimes dealers are asked (told) to work overtime until some tables break or more dealers come in. Working an extra one or two hours is usually not a problem. A couple of cups of coffee and off we go. It sometimes becomes a problem when more players come in than leave and the 10 hours becomes 11, or 12, or 13 hours. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. Now here come the bean counters and try a 10 hour workday. A lot of dealers liked it because it gave them a 3-day weekend. But then the 10 hours became 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 hours. The poker dealers seemed to handle it ok, they just slowed down to make sure that they did not make mistakes. But in the Blackjack pit it was a disaster. Blackjack dealers have to play math games with every hand they deal. Ten hours was ok, but after that they were counting on their fingers and toes. Mistakes were happening all over the place and phone calls were coming in from the eye in the sky about wrong payouts and other errors. The 10-hour workday lasted for several months and was then taken out into the desert and shot.

Ok, here is a story that Vegas tried to hide, but I was working at the Las Vegas Hilton when it happened. The Mob was out, and the Corporations came in. The Hilton Hotel chain bought a hotel casino just off the strip and of course it changed the name.
All of the chips in the casino had the name of the old casino on them. Hilton of course ordered new chips with the new name on them, but state law says that the old chips are still good for a specified period of time so that every outstanding chip could be turned in by its owner. Some bright young lad in management trying to make a name for himself came up with the great idea of putting glued stickers on the old black $100 dollar chips so that they now said Las Vegas Hilton. With a clap on the back, the new stickers were ordered and were being put on the old chips within a few days. Back slaps all around.

The rest of the story.

Over on the strip where the Mirage sits today, there used to be a smaller casino that used black for its 50 cent chips in poker and blackjack. Some enterprising individual, never again seen in Vegas, bought up two racks of black 50 cents chips, worth $100 dollars. He then slowly bought up two racks of black $100 chips with the new Las Vegas Hilton Stickers on them., worth $20,000. He took them home, steamed off the stickers and put them on the 50 cent chips. In one day he cashed in all the old chips, still worth $100 dollars along with the now disguised 50 cent chips now looking like $100 chips at the Las Vegas Hilton casino cage.
A cool $19,900 profit. Not bad for a day’s work.

I hope that I answered your question.

Stay safe, David

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Unskilld, Hi. Easy question, long answer.

No poker room wants to do poker tournaments, just a fact.
The problem is a whole lot of players like to play tournaments.
Ok this is slightly off topic, but you will see where I am going
A while back in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace had a really nice-looking poker room with more players than tables. Lots of business. The problem was that they got complacent, and their customer service suffered, badly. Now next door, the Golden Nugget downtown bought up the property and started building
the Mirage. The players at Caesars Palace asked management what their plans were for when the new larger Mirage poker room opened up. Not a problem they said, we will lose a few high limit games, but we will fill up the tables with lower limit games. Their attitude toward players still remained unchanged.
Result, within one week of the Mirage opening up the Caesars Palace poker room was lucky if they put together 4 tables on a daily average. Moral of the story. If you don’t give the players what they want, they will go elsewhere.
So, dealers know that they will make less money dealing tournaments, but as the players bust out of the tournament, they switch over and start more live games. Much better than no games at all. Besides, dealing a tournament is still good money and a lot more fun and a lot less work. A nice trade off. Even the World Series of poker puts part of the entry fee for every tournament into the dealer’s prize pool. Local poker rooms also put part of the buy in toward the dealer’s prize pool.

Hope I answered your question.

Stay safe, David

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I think it was your first post I replied to. I live in Providence, Rhode Island and Newport. My room is in New England. I pay my people cash. No disputing what you said, just posting statistics. What someone makes and what someone claims are 2 different animals.

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Thank you,Craig.
That’s right Newport. Damn, I remember our house was about 1/2 mile from the ocean. During the winter the snow would come in sideways from the ocean. On the ocean side of our house the snow was piled right up to the roof. On the other side of the house, you could see patches of grass near the house. I remember large thick patches of Rhubarb would grow near the side streets as I walked to middle school. I used to carry several packets of sugar in my pocket to sprinkle on a stalk of the sour tasting plant as I walked to school.

Stay safe, David

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SilentOutlaw, Hi.
Ok, the other part of your question. If anyone has not seen the movie “Casino”, please do so. I moved to Vegas when the Mob ruled the city. The opening of “Casino” talks about the right way to bury a body in the desert. I will not spoil it for you, you have to hear it for yourself. No one alive today knows how many bodies are buried out there, but between the desert and Lake Meade, I would say quite a few, but not as many as you would think. Most hits are made to leave a message for others. If you do not leave the bodies lying around, the message is not sent.
I also want to say that the locals in Las Vegas never worried about the Mob. It is safe to say that, in general, if you did not approach them for whatever reason, they had no interest in you. Just do not be in a competing business with one of theirs.

As for me, watch the movie. I personally knew just about everyone in that movie in real life. From Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal to Tony “the Ant” Spilotro and most of Tony’s Lieutenants. About the only major person in that movie that did not know me by my first name was the wife of Mr. Rosenthal. I was a professional poker player for almost 3 years mostly playing at the Stardust Poker Room where I was introduced to Mr. Rosenthal by Robert Thompson who was a manager in the Poker Room.

Ok, a real story that happened during the Mob days in Las Vegas. Watch the movie “Casino”. I am telling you that movie is 95% true life. The movie opens and ends with Frank Rosenthal being car bombed near the Sahara Casino, the other side of the street, about one block up. In real life, Frank was afraid that a hit had been put out on him (it was). The FBI knew about it and told him that they would offer protection if he talked about what he knew about the mob. Frank said no. Still hoping that he might change his mind, The FBI put a 24-hour security detail on his person. Frank did not mind. In fact, I think he liked the idea because he knew about the trouble he was in. Every time Frank left his house, he would call over to the FBI car stationed outside his house and tell them where he was going so that they would not lose him in traffic. The movie got the details wrong about how the car bomb took place. All mob guys learn that if you think you might be in danger, you never enter your car, shut the door, and turn the key. You leave the door open and only partly sit down and use one leg while you turn the key. That way if there is a bomb, you get sent off like out of a catapult and might live, and that is what Frank did that day. The movie shows him closing the car door and turning the key.
Anyway, that day when Frank left home about noon, he called over to the FBI agents to let them know that he was going to the Tony Roma’s restaurant on Sahara Ave. Both cars parked in the lot and everyone went inside for lunch. Frank sat at a table with some friends and the FBI agents sat at a table near the front door. When Frank got up to leave, so did the FBI agents. Frank’s car was parked right outside the front door, the agent’s car a little farther down. One of the agents stopped to pay the bill while the other one headed to the door. That was when the bomb went off. Both agents rushed outside to see Frank’s car in flames with Frank laying on the ground about 10 feet away with a good portion of his right leg almost blown off. One of the agents took off his belt to use as a tourniquet on Frank’s leg, probably saving his life. It was later said in the papers that his doctors were worried for a while that he might lose the leg, but it turned out ok. The movie just showed a slow start on the bomb going off and Frank opening up the door and rolling out on to the ground just a little burnt for his trouble, no FBI agents in sight. Personally, I think the real story would have looked better in the movie.

That’s all for now, Stay safe, David

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Was fun to read! Thank you!!

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Hi Kondrad, I am glad you liked it. No questions? LOL

Also, I like the picture of your cat.

I seemed to have been adopted by a cat myself.

He or she seems to have staked out my property as its new home. At least he/she still allows me to live there. I appreciate that.

Stay safe, David

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