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.
Training Night # 2 (continued)
At the end of day two of training, my trainer had given me a brief introduction to dealing a new game. This game was Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. Anyone that has played poker probably knows the game of Texas Hold ‘Em. But I am not a poker player and had never played the game in person, or even watched it played at a casino. So this was another completely new learning experience for me.
When the game starts, a player places a bet on both the blind and ante. These bets must equal to each other and are required to play. Ante bets are paid 1:1 on winning hands, and the blind pays only when specific hands are attained (flush, straight, etc). They are paid on a posted scale. There is a “trips” option that is an optional bet and does pay on a graded scale based on the hand. Two cards are then dealt face down to each player and to the dealer. At this point, the player decides whether to bet or “check.” If the player bets at this point, they can bet 3x or 4x their ante bet and wait for all cards to be turned to know their fate. If they “check,” three community cards (the flop) are turned over. The player can choose to play again or “check” again. If they play, they can only bet 2x the ante bet. Finally, the last two community cards (the river) are turned. The player can then bet or fold, with a bet at this point only being 1x the ante bet. Then the dealer turns their two cards and the best five card hand between the dealer and each player wins.
The first thing I learned was that preparation of the cards to open a new table was quite a bit different than blackjack. When the table is being opened, two decks of cards are opened by the floor supervisor and they proceed to make sure that all of the cards are present in each deck. Then the dealer must also verify the proper number of cards and make sure all the appropriate cards are present. After this is done, the dealer checks the cards for marks or blemishes. One would think that a brand new deck could not be marked, but I am quickly learning that casinos will leave nothing to chance. Kind of ironic, right? After the cards were prepared, my trainer then went over the table layout, including the bets, rules of betting, and how the cards are dealt coming out of an automatic shuffler or in a hand shuffled game.
After this, we called it a night.
Training Night # 3
My third day was spent entirely on Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. I had a new trainer, so there was a bit of a different dynamic. There were also other new dealers being trained with me. The other two dealers actually had already spent some time on the live casino floor, but had not dealt this particular game. I was encouraged by the fact that though these very nice people has already been on the live floor, it felt as though they were not way ahead of where I was.
The new trainer chose me first to be the “dealer” of our game. She and the other two trainees became the players and took their spots. Right off, I knew this would be different than my previous sessions as the trainer started putting me through the ringer right away. I went to deal the first hand and she immediately asked if everything was correct with opening bets. Obviously, I knew something was wrong because she was asking! A player must have a matching amount on their blind and ante bets, she had put two different denominations so she had already tripped me up. I sheepishly acknowledged that fact, but then I noticed that she had tried betting above table max, which I don't believe she did on purpose. When I pointed that out, she smiled and said good catch!
We proceeded to play some hands and I felt like it was going OK. However, she tossed another curveball my way, by placing a bet with a quarter sandwiched between two nickels. She asked if that was okay, which made me step back. I remembered that when betting multiple denominations, the highest denomination should be at the bottom and work up the stack up to lower amounts. I had her correct this and began to deal cards. She leans over to the next player and shares card information, which forced me to step in and tell her to stop doing that.
I rotated to a player position while the other two trainees took their turns. The process played out in a similar fashion for about two hours, with each of us rotating and taking turns dealing and playing. After this, the trainer proceeded to tell us some of the ways that players had tried to “take shots” at the dealers... trying to fool or manipulate them, using involving adding or removing chips.
We looked at one of the printed manuals concerning the game play, order of payouts, and processes that we had not covered for Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. We then decided to call it a night, as she had to return to the floor soon. She and I discussed how I was doing in training. She said thought I was picking things up well and she thought I would be ready to hit the floor soon. We then watched another dealer be trained on the craps table. I was really jealous at that point because I am anxiously awaiting my chance to train on my favorite casino game.
Training Night # 4
When I checked in, I was told that my trainer for the evening would be there shortly. After a couple of minutes, my trainer did show up and introduced herself. She was the floor supervisor for the evening and will probably be my supervisor for the shifts I will work. After the introductions, she simply said, “Let’s go play some blackjack.”
We proceeded to our blackjack training table and I entered the table as I would if I was relieving another dealer. I cleared my hands, burned a card, and then my trainer “bought in” so I could practice the process from start to finish. I dealt the first third of a shoe. I worked on my techniques of dealing and paying out bets, reading hand values quickly, and improving as we went along.
As we were practicing, she received a call from the gaming floor that her assistance was needed. She invited me to come with her to the floor. I was happy she let me do this as I got to meet some of the other employees that would likely be working my shift, and I got to observe some dealers in live action to see how they handled themselves.
After resolving the issues, we went back to the training facility to resume our session. You may remember from my last article, our casino has the TriLux side bet on our blackjack tables. The TriLux bet is basically a 3 card poker bet based on the players first two cards and the dealer’s face up card. If the three card combination is at least a straight or better, our casino pays at 9:1. However, some casinos have a different pay table for this bet, with a Mini Royal Flush paying up to 100:1. Why do I bring this up? Well, as I was dealing the last part of this shoe, a Mini Royal Flush actually got dealt to my trainer. She wasn't "playing" the side bet at the time, but we had a good laugh over what might have been been... had she been playing it... and.... had it not been training.
Later, a dealer who was on break came by and played for awhile. He gave me some great advice to help with figuring payouts as well as communicating with the floor supervisor when it appears someone might be counting cards. There are certain plays made by a player that MUST be reported to the floor supervisor! He was an awesome guy and I hope that I get to work with him some more soon.
The remainder of the evening was fairly unremarkable until the last five minutes. The trainer asked me how soon I would like to start on the floor. I told her whenever they felt I was ready. She told me that if it were up to her, she would take me the following day. I responded that I would get in contact with the head trainer and she said, “let’s just take care of it now” and pulled out her phone and called him.
And now Dealer Diaries is literally about to get real!