How to Become a Card Dealer

How to Become a Card Dealer

Man in smart clothes shuffling cards on a table with poker chips
In life and gambling, we have to play the hand we’re dealt. However, if you study, pursue the right career and put in the work, you can be the one playing card dealer – literally. If you’ve ever wondered about what it takes to be a poker dealer or how much poker dealers make, you’ll want to keep reading.

The Other Side of the Table: What is a Poker Dealer?

Nine times out of ten, the poker dealer is often portrayed as the person who gets given the runaround by the main characters of a movie who count cards or rely on some other form of trickery and cunning to win. This happens in just about every casino blockbuster movie there’s ever been. Fortunately, in reality, the poker dealer or card dealer is the individual responsible for dealing the cards during a hand of poker.

Card dealers have a comprehensive knowledge of all forms of poker, deal cards, keep track of the pot, identify winning hands, turn over community cards, and keep the peace among players at the table. Poker dealers are at the center of the poker experience, and as host of the action, they are the difference between a memorable night and a forgettable one.

A dealer needs to strike a delicate balance to be effective. For example, while they must create an engaging environment for each game, they must also ensure that games move fast. Moving games as fast as possible is a significant contributor to a casino’s profitability.

Why become a card dealer

Why are so many drawn to becoming a dealer? What’s in it for you besides being part of the exhilarating action? Allow us to explain:

  • Pay

Bills need to be paid so salary potential is bound to be important. How much do professional poker dealers make? Well, budding card dealers will be pleased to know that the pros can earn as much as $100,000 a year. Dealers make a large portion of their earnings from tips so the more friendly and personable you are, the more you will be likely to earn.

  • Low barriers to entry

Unlike most jobs, becoming a dealer doesn’t require a lengthy and expensive degree. Poker dealer training and poker dealer school, on average, rarely take more than a few weeks to complete. Other than that, dedication and a few soft skills, the only thing standing between you and becoming a casino poker dealer is the availability of poker dealer jobs.

3 people studying with pencils and notepads on a wooden surface
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), at the end of 2014, there were roughly 68,500 registered dealers in the US market. At that time, the market was projected to grow by approximately 0.4% by 2024 to bring the number of registered dealers to 68,900. What’s more, the BLS also estimated that around 19,000 job openings will be listed by casinos across the US in the period running from 2014 to 2024. While that might not seem like a substantial increase, it is important to take into consideration the number of casinos in operation. As long as you’re well qualified, you will virtually always be in high demand when it comes to the US poker dealers’ jobs market.

  • Perks

What’s a job without perks? Exactly. Often casinos are part of large corporations and this means that more often than not attractive benefits are on the table. From medical benefits and bonuses to tuition reimbursement for dealer-related college classes and 401k match programs, there are a host of benefits. Are you a fan of food? Who isn’t? You’re in luck. Many employee dining rooms are free while others offer meals for as little as a couple of dollars. Finally, the more poker games you master, the more scope you will have to travel to different casinos around the casino circuit.

  • Flexibility

Few jobs offer the flexibility that a poker dealer job does. This is because work is shift-based and operates according to a schedule. That means not only can you work any shift but getting time off is easy. Additionally, as a dealer, you work one and a half hours at a time and have 30 min breaks. That means 8 hours of work only amounts to 6 hours of actual work and 2 hours of breaks.

Your average day at work usually involves one of three shifts: the day shift that runs from 11am to 7pm, the mid-shift that runs from 7pm to 3am, and the night shift that runs from 10pm to 6am.

  • Variety

It is and will always be the spice of life. As a poker dealer, the opportunity to travel is always a decision away because casinos often allow their dealers to transfer from one company-owned property to another. Experienced card dealers also have the opportunity to move into a different role within the department.

  • Working conditions

Surroundings are kept pristine, lighting is always good and ventilation always keeps you comfortable. Work is always entertaining because your colleagues are just as charismatic as you are, having done their rounds and accumulated their share of fun and barely-believable stories. Camaraderie is common in this industry. If you have the thick skin to deal with the occasional nasty or disappointed casino player and have a positive outlook on life, this job can be a fun place to work.

Empty colorful casino with poker tables and slot machines

How to become a poker dealer

Know What’s Required: The Blueprint of a Card Dealer

Before you profess your undying love for poker and pursue a career in it, you might want to know what you’re getting into. Here’s what a typical day as a card dealer might look like:

  • Setting up the table before games begin
  • Welcoming players to the table
  • Ensuring wagers are set up accordingly and all chips are ready
  • Giving poker players a rundown of the rules and procedures, ensuring all bets lie within the limits
  • Making sure games remain fast-paced and fluid
  • Keeping an accurate record of bets, and managing the bets accordingly
  • Staying vigilant about illegal activity and reporting to the floor manager immediately when such activity occurs

As you can see, it’s easier said than done and so you must have the following qualities and hone the following skills:

  • Exemplary communication and interpersonal skills
  • Team working skills
  • Customer service excellence
  • Numerical mastery and quick thinking
  • Attention to detail for prolonged periods
  • Emotional intelligence and conflict resolution
  • Carry yourself well
  • Impressive dexterity
  • Stamina
  • Organizational skills, money management, and integrity

Training: Learning the tricks of the trade

We always poke fun at the labor market for placing ludicrous expectations on applicants such as wanting a wealth of experience before even walking into an entry-level job. Unfair as it may seem, to be successful at being a card dealer, you will need more than a passion for poker. Knowing how to deal cards like a casino dealer is non-negotiable so attending card dealer school for proper poker dealing training is a must. As a dealer, you are responsible for managing the flow of play and ensuring an enjoyable experience for everyone at the table.

At card dealer school, you will learn an extensive range of poker games and master them till everything they entail becomes second nature. You’re also required to get a gambling license to become a dealer and you won’t be permitted to deal legally in a casino without it. In most cases, the license fee is your responsibility.

A pair of hands with cards spread across and floating in between them

How much do poker dealers make?

Earlier, we started addressing the question, “How much do card dealers make?” As a professional dealer, your card dealer salary can get as high as $100,000 a year. This is particularly the case at some of the more established casinos in the market. Generally speaking, card dealers make around $30 to $40 hourly. With time, and depending on the casino, this hourly rate could increase to $50 an hour.

To earn on the upper end of the scale, you will have to not only work in a high-end casino but create and maintain an excellent rapport with casino goers.

Lots of 100 dollar bills floating everywhere in front of a plain white background.

Game on: Get in on sports betting today

Becoming a poker dealer is an exciting path to walk down that can open any number of doors. Either as a full-time job or as a side gig for extra money, it’s guaranteed to be an exciting experience.

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You can play online poker for real money or polish your game with our free online poker games. Our online poker games offer the same thrills and test of skills as the real-life counterpart.

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