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Poker Dealers: Is a Casino Career in the Cards?
If you enjoy playing poker or watching it on television, a career as a poker dealer might be a good fit for you. Working as a dealer allows you to interact with many different people and enjoy a good game of poker without running the risk of losing all your money. Because casinos operate 24/7, many parents who work as dealers can schedule shifts around their children’s schedules.
As the job title suggests, the primary duty of a poker dealer is to deal out cards to players. Dealers also help manage the game by greeting new players, exchanging cash for poker chips, collecting and paying out chips during the game, and monitoring the game for cheating.
To become a casino dealer, you’ll usually need to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. From there, you can go to dealer school and complete a training course in poker dealing. These courses typically range from four to eight weeks in length. Many gaming experts note, however, that one of the primary requirements for being a good dealer is that you’re a “people person” and have a positive attitude. That’s why why some casinos will ask job candidates to come in for an audition so their potential supervisors can get a better understanding of their personality and potential.
Depending on the state or county that you work in, you may need to obtain a gaming license. Qualifications for a license vary, but you will likely have to prove your identity, undergo a background check and pay a licensing fee.
The average salary for dealers is a complicated issue. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics does not differentiate dealers of the various types of casino games when calculating wages. The BLS’s statistics show that, as of May 2016, the median annual wage for a casino dealer was $19,290. This means that 50 percent of dealers made more than $19,290, and 50 percent made less.
However, as PayScale.com notes, dealers can also earn money from tips. As a result, the take-home income of poker dealers depends on where the dealer works and her overall job performance.
About the Industry
Poker dealers work in casinos and poker rooms. Some of these establishments are in hotels, resorts or even on cruise ships. In other cases, they may be freestanding and not attached to a hospitality business. Casino and poker room owners typically want to keep their players comfortable, so these rooms are usually climate-controlled. Depending on the laws where you work, however, you may be exposed to secondhand smoke while you work. The smoke may be somewhat mitigated if the room has a good air filtration system.
Casinos are typically open all the time, which means that employees usually work in shifts. As a working parent, you may be able to schedule your work hours to accommodate your family’s needs. As you gain experience, you may develop a good reputation in the poker community and may be invited to deal at tournaments. This will require travel in many cases, but you may be able to earn more at these tournaments than you would at a casino.
Years of Experience
As a dealer, you can expect to earn more as you gain job experience. A survey of casino dealers by PayScale.com shows a positive earnings trend for workers who continued at their jobs. Below is a table showing the correlation between years in the profession and wages:
- 0–5 years: $38,000
- 5–10 years: $42,000
- 10–20 years: $43,000
- 20 years: $59,000
Job Growth Trend
The BLS predicts that the potential for job growth for gaming dealers is 1 percent between 2016 and 2026. This growth is slower than average and may be the result of more consumers turning to online gambling, as well as a reluctance on the part of developers to open new casinos. Finding a job as a dealer will be easier for those who are licensed professionals and already working in the profession.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.