Anyone who has ever tried to read the face of a card dealer knows that you’d have better luck with a statue. For a dealer in a major casino like Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort and Casino, being an open book is a liability. We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down with a veteran dealer recently—off the clock—and hear his thoughts on his fascinating career.
How did you get into dealing?
I was unhappy in my old job and had applied to a couple positions here—security and bartending. I never heard back from either of them, but one day a woman from HR called and wanted to know if I was interested in applying for a table games position. I thought that anything had to be better than the situation I was in, so I agreed, and now I’ve been here for 25 years.
Why do you like dealing at Harrah’s in particular?
Harrah’s is one of the best casinos in Atlantic City. We have so many loyal players that come back so often to see us. It’s nice. You develop a friendship and care about what is going on in each other’s lives. And the work culture is equally as great; we have a really good core group of long-time employees. I have literally grown up with some of these folks, lived through marriages, births, deaths, all of it—these people are my extended family.
What is your favorite game to deal and why?
My favorite game to deal is Three Card Poker Six Card Bonus. The best part is the excitement on people’s faces when they win. They share that excitement with other people at the table. Everyone shares their emotions with other players which is great. It’s not a game where everyone is fighting each other, so when you win, it’s a great moment for everyone else.
What is something about the job that most people would be surprised to know?
To become a dealer, you usually have to pass a timed math test and give an impromptu speech answering a couple different questions. It’s all part of the interview process and very different from standard job interviews. Also, even though I can deal in New Jersey, my license forbids me from actually playing in New Jersey.
What do you like most about your job?
I like that people come to me to have fun, and that I can give them a break from their everyday lives. It might be a stretch to say it, but I’m somewhat of an entertainer.
What is the largest amount of money someone has won at your table, and what was the hand like?
I had someone hit the Bad Beat when I was working at one of our sister properties. He slapped down quad nines and the other guy ended up having a king-high straight flush. The Bad Beat hand won almost $250,000.
What kinds of luck rituals have you seen at your tables from players?
I’ve seen everything from the way the players look at their cards to some who take their time to see what they were dealt—some prefer to go in blind and not even look at all. Some players like to bring lucky charms or coins to tap with them before the game starts, and if colors are involved, some will place higher bets on the color they like best. It really runs the gamut.
What is the strangest bet you have ever seen?
I had a guy that ran out of money and bet his wife once! (laughs) She wasn’t too happy when she got to the table and learned all that had happened. Needless to say, she removed him from the game. I’m pretty sure he was in for an even more miserable night after that.
What are the most common mistakes you see amongst players?
A lot of them stay at the table if they are having a bad game and just wait for their luck to change. If it’s not going so well, it’s best to get up, go have dinner or something, clear your head, and come back.
What kinds of tips do you usually give to beginners who may be unfamiliar with the game of choice?
You have to have game knowledge, money management, and discipline. Know a little bit about the game, know how to bet with your head and not over it, and if you are up and winning, get up and leave.