Have you ever sat in a casino and wondered what it’s like to be a dealer or croupier? Imagine being the person spinning the roulette wheel or shuffling the cards at a blackjack table? Does the glitz and glamour of the high-roller lifestyle entice you enough to do it for a career? Perhaps you’d enjoy the buzz and anticipation of a casino without risking a cent. In this article we reveal what life is really like for a professional dealer or croupier and how you can go about becoming one.
Working on the frontline of a casino is like most careers where there is a clear progression from the bottom to the top. Like many vocations, a professional croupier often starts life in further education and training - either on the job or at one of the ‘gaming academies’ that have been established in the UK and beyond.
As far as qualifications are concerned, few employers will ask that specific programmes of learning are completed (such as an NVQ in Gaming), but a solid grade at GCSE level or higher maths is recommended. Via training courses, aspiring croupiers learn all they need to know about managing their station, from dealing the cards and counting chips to understanding the legal framework for gambling in a particular city, state or country.
There are tangible skills that trainee dealers can work on as well as interpersonal skills, such as clear communication and the ability to handle the occasional rowdy customer. It is essential to look the part in most casinos too, but it must all be backed up with sound numeracy and communication skills, while a warm personality doesn’t go amiss.
Most gaming programs and training courses run for around six weeks, where student dealers learn everything related to a casino and the trade.
Full lessons are provided on how to play games like roulette, poker and blackjack, while participants will also learn about regulations and local laws. Once a candidate has completed their dealer training, they can apply for a position at a land-based or online casino.
In the UK, the Ace Academy in London offers land-based and online courses, while the Online Live Casino Academy (OLCA) in Malta is a great option for Europe.
Some casinos - online and land-based - will offer in-house training programs and live trials for experienced casino game players.
As we’ve mentioned, there are no strict qualifications required if you want to become a casino dealer or croupier in the UK, but there are a number of skills that will help you make the grade:
To be more employable at the start, it will benefit dealers to know how to preside over multiple casino table games, but they may be able to specialise once they have gained some experience.
Learn the rules and structure for all the games you want to deal in, while it wouldn’t hurt to have a good grasp of all the games and slots in your chosen casino.
Originating in 18th century France and initially known as ‘twenty-one’, Blackjack is a simple and fast game where players compete with one another to beat the dealer by forming a hand that’s closest to 21 (blackjack). Dealers will have to juggle multiple players while counting and communicating effectively.
This dice game travelled from London to New Orleans in 1807 and is now famous across the world. Tables often get crowded with multiple players and spectators alike, making it one of the most exciting places of any casino but also a demanding spot for the croupier.
A fast-paced table game that requires the dealer to understand its particular language, players take turns rolling the dice while the rest of the table bet on the result of the roll.
Craps appears to be a complicated game, with a rich history and complicated code of etiquette but it is worth learning for any aspiring croupier because of its popularity.
Dating back to 15th century Italy, Baccarat’s latest version was developed in Havana, Cuba in the 1940s. Punto Banco, as it was called in Cuba, offered bets on dealers’ hands as well as the players’.
Another hugely popular high-stakes casino table game, baccarat is often played in a room separate from the rest of the casino floor.
There are so many different versions of poker, understanding them all is a huge undertaking, but many dealers choose to specialise in this most renowned casino game.
Three-card poker, Texas Hold’em Poker, Pot-Limit Omaha, Caribbean Stud Poker, Razz Poker, Seven Card Stud, Chinese Poker - there is a lot to master but it offers opportunities to dealing at big tournaments and with superstar players.
Spinning the wheel is an iconic move in any casino, at this game of pure chance. Early versions of roulette were developed in 18th century France before growing in popularity across Europe and eventually travelling to the United States.
As players bet on where the ball lands on the spinning wheel, the croupier is at the centre of everything. Roulette has different European and American variants and allows multiple players to play at once.
|1.||Understand the customer - Players need to feel comfortable in the company of the dealer, but a good dealer also needs to be able to deal with tricky customers.|
|2.||Refer to the rules and use the pit bosses - Pit bosses are the managers of the table games in a casino and dealers can rely on them if they have any issues. The house rules are also there for players to follow. As a dealer, if you are unsure of your rules or dealing with an upset customer, always make use of your pit boss. Treat all players equally and remember you never know who a player could be and how much they might tip you!|
|3.||Keep a positive demeanour - Even when things are difficult, you need to keep a positive mindset. Players go to casinos to have a good time and the dealers are there to help facilitate that experience. As a dealer you need to keep people happy by being warm and having an upbeat attitude. Don’t allow others’ negativity to affect you and remember big tips can come at any time.|
|4.||Be professional and maintain a well-groomed appearance - Acting professionally at all times is important because people will take you seriously when you need to enforce rules. Players want to know they’re dealing with a respectable staff member who has pride in their role. Casinos expect dealers and croupiers to look the part and keep good hygiene.|
|5.||Always wear your black and whites - There is a standard look for dealers which constitutes a black pair of trousers or skirt, clean white button-up collared shirt and black shoes. If you show up wearing flip flops, jeans and a basketball vest you are probably not going to get a job in a casino.|
As we mentioned earlier, there are lots of poker variants for aspiring dealers to learn, but the basic games like Texas Hold’em, Stud Poker, Omaha Poker and Five Card Draw are pivotal.
You’ll also want to learn the different rules for Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit Poker and how the flow of those games should be. Understanding Poker tournament rules and how tournaments are played will also be very useful. Poker TDA (Tournament Directors Association) rules can be found online and are good to read regardless if you deal at tournaments or not because many poker rooms base their House Rules off the TDA rules.
Live dealer poker is quite different from land-based poker, the latter being found in the traditional bricks and mortar casinos you’ve seen in every poker movie from 21 to Casino Royale, but live dealer poker takes place exclusively online. That will require a different approach, because as a dealer, you’ll likely be in a green room rather than the casino floor and using a computer to deal rather than doing so in person.
|1.||Communicate effectively - The best dealers have a strong level of communication and are able to speak to all kinds of people with ease. Emotions often run high on the casino floor and it can be an overwhelming environment with flashing lights, flowing alcohol and a diverse and loud range of players and spectators. To communicate clearly and directly, and with authority, is a golden skill.|
|2.||Make players feel at ease - Although as a blackjack dealer you have to always be responsible and be in control, you’re a dealer not a robot and the players want to feel that. It’s important to make any and every guest playing at your table feel welcome and at ease. They are playing to win, but they’re also there to have fun.|
|3.||Provide solid customer service - Punters that come to your table constitute paying customers of the casino, therefore you’ll need an open and compassionate approach to dealing with both praise and complaints. Remember empathy is key and at land-based casinos your pit bosses are there to provide support.|
|4.||Think analytically - As blackjack is a game of numbers and chance, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of the quick maths the pros use to keep track of the game. There are always going to be players who seek to game the system and cheat, it comes with the territory of gambling. So you’ll need to use good analytical thinking to detect any potential threats to the integrity of the game.|
The most popular versions of blackjack include American Blackjack, European Blackjack, Vegas Strip Blackjack, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Perfect Pairs.
Characteristics of a great blackjack dealer are often the soft, non-technical skills that define how they work. These are usually interpersonal, problem-solving and organisational skills. They’re harder to master than technical skills, but mastery of these softer skills will go a long way to guaranteeing your success in not only a dealing career, but other facets of your life.
Dealing in a live blackjack setting is markedly different to real-world blackjack. Online players can be anywhere, from sitting on a beach to lying in bed and they may choose to interact with you or ignore you completely. Dealing in a land-based casino can be a much more sociable affair, as you look into the whites of players’ eyes and interact with them in-person. Playing live blackjack and observing the dealers is a great way to get a feel for what it is like to be a dealer online and how it differs.
Blackjack dealers can start with a salary of around £17,500 a year, which climbs once you prove your worth and get to more prestigious tables. Within two years this could rise to £20,000 a year, while according to Glassdoor the average casino dealer in London earns over £25,000. Poker tends to pay a bit better than blackjack, because the skills and attentiveness required to deal the game are a little more advanced.
However, it’s when you factor in tips that the job becomes more lucrative. Big winners often tip the dealer a portion of their winnings as a way of a thank you, which means around an extra £500 a month in your pocket. It’s common to have a shared tipping pool among dealers at a casino, but most poker table dealers keep theirs themselves, given the specific expertise poker dealers put into games.
To ensure you pick up as many tips as possible keep that warm and friendly persona going at all times when dealing, as a bubbly personality and connection with winning players often translate to good tips. Naturally having more winners on your tables will increase your chances of landing a big tip, but this is more up to chance than anything.
Additionally, live dealer casinos in the UK allow croupiers to become an inspector within five years if they showcase their skills and aptitude. Live casino dealers can get tips too, but probably not as much as in-person dealers.
As casinos - land-based or online - are 24-hour enterprises, dealers need to be flexible with regards to when they work (at least to begin with) and be present behind the table for long periods. Dealers also get a large amount of flexibility when it comes to hours, which means you could do it alongside other work or commitments.
|Transferable skills - Once you’ve become a fully trained croupier with experience under your belt, the world is your oyster. Go and ply your trade anywhere on the planet, from the bright lights of Las Vegas to Monte Carlo or Macau.||Testing working conditions - Professional dealers are typically night owls, with most working evening or even night shifts to reflect the busiest hours of a casino operation. It is a high-pressure job with hundreds of players potentially sitting at your table every day, who all expect the same high standards from their dealer. Retaining your focus and concentration from the start to end of every shift is key to your success.|
|Job security - High streets in the UK are filled with charity shops, discount stores, coffee spots and betting shops. Gambling is a bulletproof industry that has only expanded with the rise of online casinos and live dealer jobs.||Demands of the job - Being a pro dealer is a demanding occupation, physically and mentally. You’ll need to concentrate for hours on end and will be on your feet for the vast majority of that time, dealing cards, spinning the roulette wheel and raking in chips. It can be exhausting, but also rewarding work.|
|Excitement - It almost goes without saying that being a dealer is exciting. The buzz of a casino is unlike anything else, while interacting with a range of gamblers from the casual party-seekers to the professional high-rollers means you probably won’t get bored.||Clientele - Without customers, a casino would not function, and often punters can be tricky customers. Some players are nice but others are difficult to deal with. You can make a great living from being a card dealer but there are going to be times when some of the clientele act up.|
|Promotions - There is a clear path of progression working in a casino, from dealer or croupier to pit boss, dealer inspector all the way up to casino manager.|
|Tips - Up to £500 a month on top of your regular salary (if you’re lucky!)|
Becoming a professional casino dealer is possible for anyone, but requires training either at a casino dealer school or on the job. There are no qualification barriers to entry but you’ll need a certification to get going.
Choosing your casino game is pivotal for any dealer or croupier, with blackjack, craps, baccarat, poker and roulette among the most popular.
Communicating effectively, making players feel at ease, providing solid customer service and thinking analytically are among the qualities of a good blackjack dealer. What’s more, the best poker dealers understand their customers, refer to the rules and use their pit bosses. It’s also important to remain positive and professional at all times, and keep a well-groomed appearance, including your black and whites.
Casino dealers in the UK can make anything from £17,500 towards £30,000 with up to an extra £500 a month in tips, but they should be aware of potentially testing working conditions.
The pros and cons of becoming a professional casino dealer are extensive, but if they suit your personality, it could be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice.
Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.Read Full Bio