I received a follow-up email with additional interview questions after this afternoon’s telephone interview. So either this is going to be a longer article than expected OR I didn’t give her a lot of useable material over the phone. I’m afraid my answers to her email weren’t all that exciting. I tried my best. Here goes…
Q: I have heard it said that men are always trying to hide from their wives / girlfriends how much money they have lost – or won! Did this happen often, or never at all?
A: Yes, more than trying to hide a gambling loss from a wife, it is common for men try to hide their girlfriends from their wife. Seriously, though, wins and losses are usually a trip-based experience and I only see a small window of that entire trip, so I can’t be sure about lies. Also, Vegas keeps wives/girlfriends busy with the spa, shopping, and other amenities, so if a guy wanders off from his partner to play a little blackjack, I typically don’t meet her.
Q: How common is it for people to hide their chips? Is this a problem? Did you ever catch someone pocketing their chips?
A: Yes, people sometimes tuck their chips into their pockets, but this isn’t a problem. If a person has chips, then the money is theirs, so they can put it wherever they want. Some people do try to be sneaky about it, but (1) the small chips don’t matter as casinos don’t usually keep track of these and (2) the larger chips ($500 and over) are tracked just to make sure the rack is balanced, so the boss tends to know who walks away with these chips anyway.
Q: You mentioned that you once witnessed a fight on Easter – was there anything about that particular day, or fight, that had to do with Easter, specifically? Any details you can provide with me about the incident would be great!
The fight I saw on Easter had nothing to do with Easter or gambling. I think it had to do with alcohol and bravado. Three guys and a girl walked passed two guys sitting at a table. There were some “what are you looking at?!” comments thrown around. I guess the two groups had interacted earlier in the evening. Guys at the table had said some inappropriate things to the girl, I believe. Then one of the walker-by guys came back, threw a punch, and got his ass kicked. The casino broke up the fight – but it was a bit messy. I was a supervisor in that area and I just had the dealers at the surrounding tables bring their lids up over the chips and I locked them. One guy ended up in the hospital, but 15 minutes later we were back up and running.
Q: Tips are a big part of your income, you said. Was this greatly affected by whether or not a player won or lost? What was the most memorable or funny tip you ever received? Did players ever try to tip you in chips, etc?
A: Yes, people tend to tip when they’re winning. Most players place a bet for the dealer, tipping as they play. In this manner, the player puts his own bet in the betting circle and puts the tip on top of the betting circle. If the hand wins, the dealer pays the bet and the tip, then says “thank you” and takes the tip. If the hand loses, all money goes to the casino. I believe the Vegas average is 1 tip per 21 hands dealt – or maybe it’s 1 per 21 rounds. I don’t recall off the top of my head. But there isn’t a particular tip that stands out during my time as a dealer. They are all appreciated. Sometimes a player apologizes for not tipping in a large denomination, but I am happy with the kindness of the gesture. A larger amount is definitely nicer, but I tried to be appreciative of whatever I received.
Q: How are blackjack players different from poker players, roulette, etc.? Is there a type of person who is drawn to this game, as opposed to others?
A: Yes, Blackjack is the catch-all game. There are typically more BJ tables in a casino than any other game and I would say we have a wider variety of people playing BJ. Craps is a very fast-moving, high risk game. That game tends to draw a large crowd, mostly men, and it’s rather clique-ish. Roulette is more of a girl’s game and isn’t quite as social as the others. In BJ, all players want the dealer to bust, so the table can band together quite a bit. In Craps, they band together to a large degree, as most players bet the Pass Line and want the same numbers to roll. But in Roulette, it’s every man for himself, as people tend to bet very differently. Poker is it’s own machine. I could tell when I had a Poker player wander to my BJ table. At one time Poker was my second job – I kept accurate win/loss records and took the game very seriously, so I say this with love… Poker players as a whole really suck. They tend to complain a lot, give one another unsolicited advice, be poor tippers, request a lot of comps, and generally think they are the smartest person in the room. (Note: this does not generally apply to tourists. People dabbling in Poker tend to be everyday, normal people. It is the Poker players that sit at the table day in and day out that I am referring to – and Poker has quite a few of those.) The game is part luck and part skill. Sometimes decisions that are mathematically incorrect actually work out – so people are rewarded by winning a pot and will congratulate themselves, adding what they think is evidence to their belief that they are the smartest person in the room. But this is a whole other tangent. Basically, yes – different personality types are attracted to different games. Craps = pure adrenaline, very “team” oriented. Blackjack = your #2 “team” game, a bit slower paced, and fairly social. Roulette = every man for himself – not too fast moving, and to me, quite dull. Poker = every man definitely for himself, as a player needs to beat the other players in order to win.
Q: Finally – Did you have any insider-lingo between dealers, security, managers, etc., to communicate when a player was too drunk to play, out of hand, etc? Is there any type of casino-code you can share?
A: Yes, we definitely have a vocabulary all to ourselves in the business. EDR refers to the Employee Dining Room. “Blackout Day” is a day where you get double or triple points for calling in sick. “My Friday” is the fifth day of your work week, and generally isn’t a Friday. We have Georges (big tippers), King Kong Georges (really big tippers), Stiffs (people who don’t tip at all), and Strokers (people who purposefully make a dealer do extra and unnecessary work by betting in strange increments, using several chip colors (a “totem pole”), etc.). However, we don’t really have “code” words. If a person is too drunk and needs to be cut off from playing, that is not the dealer’s decision – it is up to the boss. The dealer and boss may have a conversation about this particular player, but we can talk in hushed voices and that is usually good enough given our loud environment. We generally don’t try to embarrass a player, but the integrity of the game is paramount, so sometimes uncomfortable situations do arise. One time, I had a player at my Blackjack table who obviously peed in his pants. He was a young guy too, maybe in his early 30s. I didn’t want to say: “Hey dude, you pissed yourself, get out of here.” But it’s also a bio-hazard to allow him to play. He only played a hand or two after I noticed his pee-stained pants and I didn’t get my supervisor’s attention until he left. In that instance, the guy was already gone, so my supervisor called the cleaning crew to take the chair away.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.
Oh, and another cliche for the list… Just like the “mother-in-law” joke, it is cute the first time you hear it, but it gets old… “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!” I don’t know where that came from, but it’s so catchy and definitely over-quoted.