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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Gary Trask

Gary is an expert on all things gambling. The Boston native has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years, including a few at Casino City and was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's Media Committee.

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Top-10 things that make a good casino dealer
 

While the goal of most every casino gambler is the same, there's more to the experience than simply walking away from the table with more chips in your hand than when you arrived.

There's the entertainment value of your trip to a casino. Yes, you want to win, but doesn't it make the experience that much more satisfying if you have a good time in the process? And in that rare occasion that you end up having a losing night at the tables, don't you walk away feeling much better about the evening if the table you were at provided some good conversation and laughter?

The one person who can be a catalyst for an enjoyable casino experience is the dealer. The dealer is the straw that stirs the drink. There's much more to it than simply throwing the cards your way or spinning the roulette wheel.

With that in mind, we decided to ask a few veteran dealer instructors some of the key points they try to instill in their students. So, the next time you're at the casino and you find a dealer that has all 10 of the following attributes down pat, make yourself comfortable because you really have no reason to go anywhere for a while. You're in for a fun night out – win or lose.

10 . Knowledge of the rules
"Knowing and understanding the rules of the game you are dealing is obviously very important," says Henry Brown, the executive director of Casinos Wild, a Michigan-based school for dealers. "Everything needs to be second nature. You don't want dealers who are unsure of themselves."

"If the dealer doesn't know the rules it can ruin the integrity of the game," adds Rick Levin, the director of gaming at the Crescent School of Gaming in Mississippi. "It's all about basic fundamentals."

9. Keep the game moving
"This is crucial," says John Foster, a director of instruction at the Professional Dealers School in New Jersey. "You've got to be crisp and keep the game controlled and you have to move the game along with no unnecessary stoppages in play. But at the same time you don't want to rush yourself or rush the players. You've got to find the right balance."

8. Mechanical skills
"We try to teach the dealer to riffle the cards tight and smooth," Foster says. "You can't raise the cards too high or somebody at the table could see something that could give them an unfair advantage."

"Dealing the cards is an art form," adds Levin. "You want to dealers to put their own kind of body language and personality into it. It's what makes each dealer unique, but it's also probably the most difficult thing to teach."

7. Be consistent
"If a dealer uses a certain style, the player will get used to that style," says Levin. "Once the player gets used to that style, you can't change it up on them. Like I said before, every dealer has his or her own technique. Players like familiarity and by being consistent you help the player get comfortable."

6. Professionalism
"We always remind the dealers that their appearance is important and they want to practice good posture," Foster says. "Another thing to remember is that the dealer should never point at a player – they should always use an open hand – and they should never stare at the player. It's just common courtesy."

5. Know when it's appropriate to help a player
"It's perfectly fine for the dealer to help a player when it looks like they need it," says Foster. "But the dealer isn't there to play the hand for the player. All of the casinos have different philosophies about this, but the general rule is to help when help is needed, but don't disrupt the flow of the game because you are coming to the aid of one player at the table more often than you should be."

4. Restraint
"Sometimes the player doesn't always act appropriately and for the sake of the other players and the casino itself, the dealer needs to know how to handle that kind of player," explains Brown. "The dealer is almost like a referee. They are there to facilitate the game, but they don't want to be part of the action. They have to know when it's time to call a floor person over for help."

3. Handling payouts
"The dealer is responsible for reading the table correctly so he or she knows who won the pot and/or how much the winner should be paid," Brown says. "They shouldn't have to glance down at a pay table every time they make a payout. They need to know how to award the winner and when it's necessary to split a pot."

"Cashing someone out or cashing someone into the game also needs to be done in a timely fashion," adds Levin. "Serious players hate dead action at the table."

2. Call a good game
"The dealer needs to be able to read the action at the table and announce it clearly to everyone that's playing," Foster says. "This is especially important in baccarat. In poker, you need to announce the amount someone is betting or raising and you need to do it without much hesitation. The people playing don't always keep their full attention on what's going on at the table so this is a good way to keep them informed."

1. Interact with the players
"Like it or not, we're in the hospitality and entertainment business so being personable and engaging is important," Levin says. "There was a time when this wasn't so important to the casino because there were only a couple places in the entire country where you could actually go and gamble – Nevada and Atlantic City. But now we've got gambling in 40-something states. The player has a choice as to where he or she wants to play so it's important to make sure the player has a good time. We teach our dealers to always smile, have a good disposition and a good personality. It's one of the most important attributes for a dealer."

"When a player comes to the table the dealer should really do all they can to welcome them," Foster says. "They should learn the players name, ask them where they're from and have a conversation with them if that's what the player is looking for. You'd be surprised how often a casino patron goes into a casino and looks for a certain dealer. A dealer can create loyalty. That's good for everyone involved – from the dealer to the player to the casino. It makes it a win-win for everyone."

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