Casino dealer: 'Where all the action is'
Matthew W. Ingersoll
Casino table games dealer. I work the graveyard shift at the Stratosphere, a major Las Vegas strip casino.
I deal every game in the casino except for craps and baccarat. This is especially important on the graveyard shift, as the volume of business can be hard to predict, so dealers need to be very flexible.
It also makes a dealer more valuable to the casino if he can deal many games.
Years in position
I'm 30, and a Virgo.
I have a high school diploma, some college, and a degree in broadcasting from a vocational school no longer in business. I was a disc jockey at KOWA, a country-western station before going into retail and then casino work.
How did you get your current job?
I was working as a retail manager -- and had been for six years, and was starting to get a little burned out. My retail experience included work in a gift shop, a music store, a software store, a Discovery Channel store and a Coca-Cola store.
A friend of mine convinced me to join him at a casino as a clerk at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino -- and from there I decided I'd rather be out on the gaming floor where all the action is.
The clerk position was on the floor. I was the one who'd issue markers to customers, so I had a first-hand view of what the dealers did. Then I did six months at Nevada Landing (in Jean, Nevada). And then I was ready for work at the Stratosphere.
How many hours do you work per week?
I work a standard 40-hour work week, excepting of course certain holiday weekends on which I may work some overtime. I start work at 2 a.m. and finish my shift at 10 a.m.
What's the first thing you do when you get to work?
Since I am not a coffee drinker -- and since I work the hours I do -- the first thing I do is go to the break room and have some Coca-Cola.
What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?
I get a 20 minute break every hour, so I can eat just about anytime. I usually eat around 5 or 6 a.m.
What time do things get tense around the place? What makes it that way?
Working at a casino, it's hard to nail down a certain time things get tense since we're basically at the mercy of the guests.
Things definitely get tense when we have someone playing big action -- you must be very careful and not make any mistakes. You realize you're dealing with money, both the guests' and the casino's.
If you're having a good night at work, what is it that makes it good?
A good night is one on which everything seems to be going smoothly -- we don't have anyone getting out of line. Dealers often judge and criticize their games, we consider ourselves professionals. So when I think I've been dealing very cleanly and my guests are having a good time, that's a good night.
How much work, if any, do you take home?
Absolutely none. That's what's great about this business: Once you're tapped off a game, you're done.
What does your work contribute to society?
I think this one could be a debate all its own. I think current gaming offers people good entertainment. And we have games with minimums and maximums that appeal to all incomes. When you factor in world-class dining, concerts and shows, all for a good price, I think my job helps contribute to the overall value of the guests' experience.
Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
Yes. I'm currently in a position known as a "dual-rate" -- some days I'm dealer, other days I'm a floor supervisor. I'd like to become full-time floor supervisor at the Stratosphere and possibly move into upper management later.
If you could have two more careers, what would they be?
Computer programmer, and maybe airline pilot.
What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
There's a certain colleague who's jealous about how quickly I've risen through the ranks, especially since I've only had a couple of years in the business. This person is constantly making negative remarks about me.
What do you do to relieve stress?
You'll think this is funny, but I play video games and watch movies. I love my Sega Dreamcast and I own approximately 200 movies on DVD.
What have you been reading lately?
Why, CNN.com, of course. (Editor's note: The preceding was an unpaid and unsolicited -- but much appreciated -- response.)
When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work?
I realize that some days are going to be harder than others, but most of all I look at the lifestyle that this career has allowed me to have. I just bought my first new home, I've been recently married and I just love my life -- I owe all of it to my career and to my employer.
|Back to the top|