How to Be a Great Blackjack Dealer

Dealer and players at blackjack table
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Want to increase your earning potential and likability as a blackjack dealer? You can learn how to be a great blackjack dealer even before getting hired or trained. The casino or dealing school you attend will teach you the actual mechanics of how to shuffle cards and handle chips, and they'll give you manuals about game protection and efficiency, but they won't teach you about making good decisions, working with the pit bosses, and handling your players.

Blackjack dealing jobs usually start at minimum wage. At 90% of the casinos in the United States, the pay rate stays there, year after year. So dealers can only increase their income by being the most accommodating and friendly ambassadors of the casino they can be. At some casinos, all tips given to dealers are pooled together and split evenly by hours worked (a pool joint). At other casinos, each dealer keeps the tips they make (go for your own joint). Regardless of which type of casino you work for, the first thing you have to do to make money is to get players on your game!


That may seem obvious, but sometimes it's hard to smile when you're tired, sick of sniffing second-hand smoke, or you didn't get much sleep last night because your pet iguana has a cold. No matter what happened before you got on the casino floor you have to smile to get players interested in playing on your table. Stand there like a rock with your arms crossed and you'll likely stand alone. Stand alone and you work for minimum wage while your players head off to play Keno. If it's a pool joint, you're the lump that's driving tips down and your fellow dealers will hate your attitude. Enjoy your lunch alone!

Not surprisingly, that nice smile of yours is likely to help immensely in getting you hired in the first place. Dealers are entertainers, and those doing the hiring know they need to choose employees that can interact well with guests. If you can get through your hiring interview with good cheer and a little levity, your bosses will know that you can handle the players.

Get Along

Casinos have more rules and regulations than NASA, and if you can't follow them you can't fly. It doesn't matter what you did at your last job, whether you were a truck driver or a brain surgeon, you have to follow the rules. Ignore the rules and you make the dealers following you work harder to control the players, and the pit bosses will have to spend extra time watching your game. This makes you a liability and no fun to work with. Which means eventually you will be the root cause of some internal error and you'll be on the hit list. A few black marks and you'll get suspended or worse.

A big part of getting along is treating everyone with respect. Strangely enough, you may find yourself making more money than your bosses, but when they ask you to deal a certain way, don't argue. Just follow the advice, and if you're confused about it, ask them after you get pushed off your game by the next dealer. Don't ever argue on the game with a floor supervisor or pit boss. Sometimes they have a specific reason for asking you to handle something a specific way!

Deal for the Sky

In a casino, the sky is also known as surveillance. Casinos have more cameras than Hollywood, and you're going to be watched incessantly. You'll get used to that, but don't forget that the reason for many rules is to accommodate the sky. You spread the last stack of chips to prove the bet or chips, you don't let the player cover their bet with their hand at any time because the sky can't see through their hand, and you follow the rules so you don't stand out!

The sky and your pit bosses are happiest when every employee deals the same way because that helps them find errors. If you look out of line, you might be out of work because you are cheating. Deal with procedures and you breeze through the day with no questions asked.

Don't Take It Personally

Players come to the casino for fun and entertainment. They often learn to play blackjack on-the-spot, but no matter how long they have played, many are likely to blame you for everything from poor cocktail service to bad room service, not to mention saying it's your fault if they lose even two hands in a row. Don't take it personally. You're the entertainment and the cards come out the way they do, so let the boos run off you like water off a duck's back. Don't carry a player's mood to your next table or it's going to cost you money. And even if the players are mean, don't look at your watch, turn your head in all directions and roll your eyes. Players may sometimes talk slow, but that doesn't mean they're dumb.

New players sometimes need help with blackjack rules and procedures, so give the help pleasantly. Keep in mind that not all players know how to tip, either, you'll get used to that. Don't be overly gushy with the tipper on your table while ignoring everyone else. Again, players aren't unconscious, they're just uninformed. However, to help with those tips and your game pace, a good rule of thumb is to set your speed to the speed of your highest wagering (and sometimes highest tipping) player.

Know Your Players

The final thing that will make you a great blackjack dealer, beyond practicing and being able to carry on a conversation, is knowing your players. Players like to be recognized, and asking and remembering their names is a big step in the right direction. You'll help the pit bosses when you know Mr. Casey Jones' name and you'll help yourself make better tips.

A few more things you can help with include: getting an ashtray for a smoker, getting cocktail service, helping a player find two playing spots together for someone that likes to play to hands, and asking a pit boss for help when you know a player needs reservations for dinner, the hotel, or wants a marker (casino credit). Anticipate your player's needs, and you can anticipate making more money.

Follow these rules for new dealers and you'll have a good start in the casino industry, and you can start making more tips from your dealing.