Working as a Roulette Dealer
By Steve Gillman
I worked at a casino for ten years, and the position of roulette
dealer (sometimes called a croupier) was without a doubt my favorite.
Of course we take to certain games because of our personalities.
Some people enjoy the fast pace of the craps table, others like
the more personal interactions of dealing to blackjack players.
There were several things I liked about being a roulette dealer,
but I'll start with what I call the "gaming atmosphere"
as it compares with the other major table games. On the craps
table it is chaotic and exciting. You have to place bets even
as the dice are being thrown. You can easily make mistakes that
will piss off customers, like not booking a bet that was thrown
toward you at the last moment.
On the blackjack tables the customers get angry with each
other. If a person takes a card when the others don't think he
should, and then the dealer gets a good hand as a result, the
other players complain and insult that person. It is all nonsense,
since just as often a stupid play by someone will result in the
dealer drawing a bad card, but there is no changing the superstitions
of blackjack players (and for this comment I'll get emails from
players with lame arguments defending their superstitious beliefs--gamblers
never understand the science of probabilities or they would be
owners of instead of visitors to casinos).
On the roulette table, the wheel is spun and the ball falls.
It is so plainly random that the players rarely blame the dealer,
nor do they have reason to blame other players. Consequently,
it is a less stressful atmosphere to work in--as long as you
know what you're doing.
You will have to know how to multiply numbers in your head
quickly, but you'll get used to the common bets. Even many years
later I still think "102" when I see six chips on the
line between two numbers (a two-number bet pays 17-to-1).
I also enjoyed being a "chip mucker." Mucking chips
just means helping to sort them back into stacks as the dealer
pulls them in, and preparing payouts for the dealer. I loved
the low-stress behind-the-scenes aspect of this position. This
is where you'll start prior to training on the "front line."
How Much Can You Make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps all "gaming dealers"
together, which is okay, since most casinos do as well, even
pooling tips among poker, blackjack and roulette dealers. As
a group they average about $17,000 according to the BLS, but
this is misleading. Some casinos let dealers take tips in cash
rather than rolling them into the paycheck, and some of those
tips are surely not reported. I personally know several dealers
in small casinos in Michigan who make over $45,000 annually,
and when I recently asked a friend who work in a casino what
the starting pay was there, she told me dealers start at $6.50
per hour and tips are averaging $10 per hour, meaning the starting
wage is about $33,000 per year plus benefits (they get 401k matching
contributions, vacation pay and health insurance).
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
If you work at the rare casino that lets you keep your own
tips, naturally you'll want to try to get shifts that are busy,
and work at the busiest tables in the building.
Qualifications / Requirements
You need to be able to think on your feet and multiply numbers
quickly in your head.
Normally you'll be hired as a blackjack dealer. There are
many more of those positions, and roulette dealers are usually
trained on the job after working the blackjack tables for a while.
Small casinos will often hire and train dealers, so you do not
need to go the dealer school to get started.
- A chapter from an ebook about a man who won $80,000 at my roulette