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Dealer Diaries: Getting Serious About BJ

Updated: Nov 13

Geoff from Strip Walking has started training to become a casino dealer. He will be documenting this in a series of posts describing the process.


A close up of two cards - a ten and an Ace

Training Night # 2

Night two at dealer training definitely had a different feeling from the very outset. Instead of dealer fundamentals like shuffling cards and the handling of chips, my trainer took me right to the blackjack table and we began working on rules of blackjack. Specifically, we started the session by discussing the side bet that is available at our particular casino, the TriLux side bet. If you have played three card poker, it is very easy to understand this bet. It is based on the two cards you are dealt and the one card showing for the dealer. If those 3 cards make a straight or better 3 card poker hand, then you win. Payouts for this bet can vary from casino to casino but our casino is a straight 9 to 1 payout no matter the hand. You have to bet in $5 increments. The bet is resolved before the normal blackjack hand is started.

a graphic explaining the Trilux sidebet in blackjack

After we discussed this side bet, we then moved forward with blackjack training. While I do enjoy almost all forms of casino gambling, blackjack is one of my least favorite table games. Whenever I play it, I get frustrated at how the dealer will seemingly always manage to beat my good hands. Another reason I am not fond of it is that I have always felt intimidated by the serious blackjack players that want the game played according to a certain strategy. Since I didn't really know basic strategy, I am always afraid that my lack of knowledge would lead to an incorrect play and get a negative reaction from others in the game. Now an "incorrect play" can also work to a another player's advantage, but those type of people never want to see that, they just want to complain about how I play my hands wrong.

A meme about not always hitting on a soft 18 in blackjack

So the next step in my training was helpful to me in a lot of ways. My trainer had me “play” blackjack while he dealt. This served two purposes: I could watch his technique and learn from that, and also I could learn some basic blackjack strategy. I played each hand, and as I played, I learned the dealer technique for traditional extra bets such as doubling down and splitting a hand. After we played multiple hands this way, he brought me around to the dealer side of the table.

A demonstration of how a casino dealer clears their hands

He demonstrated the proper process for a new dealer coming to a table. If you have spent any time in a casino or watched any movies or tv shows involving casinos, you probably have seen a dealer clear their hands, showing the security cameras and everyone around them they have nothing in their hands. The old dealer puts the shoe in the middle of the table and clear their hands. Then the new dealer comes in and clear their hands, burns a card (take a card and put it into the discard pile) and off they go.

So now the pressure was on me, as I was going to be dealing all of the hands and my trainer would be playing them. He played different denominations and side bets in ways that would test my knowledge and math skills. Prior to this, though, he showed me the proper process of a new player buying in to the game. When a player buys in, the handling of cash, cutting out of chips, and communicating with the floor was explained.

A meme with a dog saying I have no idea what I'm doing with cards and a pile of chips in front of it

Buying in to the table is a similar process whether the player is using cash or chips, with a few slight differences. When a player buys in using cash, the player places the cash (referred to by the dealer as "change") on the table. The dealer then picks it up and turns it upside down on the table and lays it out flat. He or she announces "change only" and then proceeds to cut out the appropriate amount of chips based on the table minimums and normal player bet. The dealer then announces "changing $500" (for example) and the floor supervisor then looks at the cut out chips and gives the okay to pass the player their chips. Next the dealer deposits the cash into the lock box at the table.

A gif from the movie Vegas Vacation where the blackjack dealer says "Changing 500"

If a player is buying in with chips (referred to by the dealer as "checks"), they place the chips on the table and the dealer announces the highest denomination coming in, even if there are other colored chips in the stack. For example, a player places $600 in chips (a purple $500 and a black $100) on the felt. The dealer would announce "purple coming in" and proceed to cut out the appropriate chips. When done, the dealer would announce "check change $600" and wait for floor supervisor approval. Once approval is obtained, the chips are pushed to the player.

We went hand after hand after hand with me performing as the dealer. My trainer was very patient, as good trainers tend to be. There were a few situations where he had to point out errors that I made. My takeaway on things I need to work on were:

  • making sure I didn’t bring my hands together with chips in them

  • reading the players hands quicker

  • correctly paying winning bets quicker

  • improve in paying bets with my non-dominant hand

One of the interesting things that I learned was “heeling off” a payout. When a stack of chips has multiple denominations or when you are not simply matching stack sizes, the dealer places the chips next to the winning bet but leans a stack half on, half off of the base

chip. This is done so the security cameras can have a better angle to see how many chips are in the stack and the denominations.

A demonstration of chips being heeled off when paid out by a dealer.

After awhile I started to feel fairly confident with the process so we took a quick break. When the trainer returned, we went back to the table for a discussion on a topic I really hadn’t considered..... game security. We went through techniques to help me use my peripheral vision so that while I am dealing to one part of the table, I can still see what is going on at the other end. The trainer showed me different methods that people may try to cheat the casino. A very common and simple cheat is adding or removing chips after betting is closed. For security reasons, I am not going to go into detail on other cheating methods, but it definitely opened my eyes as to how big a problem it is for casinos. It is something that I will be much more aware of in the future, not just when I am dealing, but when I am in other casinos playing or simply watching others play.

A meme about all the different kinds of people a blackjack dealer sees.

After finishing up this topic, the trainer felt it was time to introduce me to dealing the next game. What game was it? That will be in my next Dealer Diaries article! Thanks for coming along with me on this journey!



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