Confessions of a Las Vegas Blackjack Dealer

job interview I am Antoniya Hamberg and I have been a Las Vegas blackjack dealer for over two years, working at Binion's Hotel and Gambling Hall (which used to be known as the Horseshoe), as well as at a couple of other properties. I'm what they call a party pit dealer; I deal blackjack while wearing lingerie. It is my responsibility to entertain the guests.

Most of the games I deal are really fun, and they make my work day/night go by really fast; after all, I get to play games for a living. It is not a hard physical job and I have room to grow in the company.

I make minimum wage, plus tips. Dealers share tips, which are collected from all the dealers' tables and distributed equally. Most dealers like that because we are on a different table every night and some games or tables make more tips than others. Full-time dealers also get benefits; however, there is a three-month probationary period and a six-month waiting period before those benefits apply.

Since I wear close to nothing (lingerie is my uniform) at my very public job, I often run into people who are compelled to make inappropriate comments. I've gotten used to fending those off pleasantly, but being a blackjack dealer wearing lingerie certainly has its ups and downs.

A typical working shift

It is a wild Friday night; everyone in Vegas is out drinking, partying and gambling. For most people this is the time to blow off some steam; for me it's just another busy night at work. I get to my table and tap out the day-shift dealer, taking over her spot. As she prepares to leave I take a glance at the table.

There he is, in the first seat, the "Inconsiderate Cigar Smoker." To have a good time in Las Vegas, apparently some guys need to have that fat Cuban cigar stuck in their mouths. Someone must have told them that the cigar is a symbol of status and manhood. I, however, look at the cigar smoker and think, "Great, another night full of inhaling his smoke, and coughing, sniffling and watery eyes." On the bright side, sooner or later his cigar will burn out.

Unfortunately I can't say the same about the guy we like to call "Mr. Nasty," sitting in seat No. 2. Every dealer in the world has met this specific type -- he is the highlight of our day. "Mr. Nasty" is the typical moron who has come to Vegas with the brilliant idea to take all the casino's cash, one hand at a time. He is also commonly known as the "F-word Guy," since we hear him swearing on every hand he loses -- or wins. He is the type of player that actually doesn't know how to lose; nothing is ever his fault. He lost a hand, let's blame it on the dealer. His beer is getting low -- hey, how about we blame it on the dealer? The new payout on Blackjack Single Deck is 6 to 5, who should he blame it on? Oh, of course, the dealer. On the bright side, eventually he will run out of money and then he will probably say, "You killed me, no tip for you, dealer." He's the guy that makes it a tough night for everyone.

At third base (seat) tonight is "Mr. Bachelor Party." "Mr. Bachelor" is about to get married and he's accompanied by his crowd of unstoppable crazy pals who have come along to live it up one last time in Vegas. For everyone in the bachelor party, "respect" is not a word they know. They are thinking, "Respect the dealer? What is that? I'm here to party and I'm going to treat every party pit dealer like a stripper, because it's Vegas, baby!" Do I need to point out that we are not strippers? Apparently. Repeatedly. Politely.

What a fun table I have tonight! In my last seat, you will find the "I Don't Believe in Showers Guy." He is the guy who doesn't wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom. He is also the guy that always has something stuck in his teeth and uses his fingers to get it out -- those same fingers that he uses to touch the chips and the cards. This gentleman often has the urge to dig for gold and sticks his finger up his nose in search of a big treasure. He looks very busy and yet, inevitably, demands to cut the cards -- with the same fingers that were just up his nose. These are the same cards and chips that I, the dealer, have to handle the whole night. Did I mention that having a strong constitution is part of the job?

Finally the table is empty. During these free minutes, I try to keep positive, thinking of the benefits of this job: I never bring my work home with me; sometimes I meet very interesting people and hear their Vegas stories; I get to meet people that are looking for that unique experience of a lifetime and I get to be a part of that unforgettable trip.

The end of the night

After a busy Friday night, I go to work the next day and get to see how much I made in tips. Most of the time that magical number puts a big smile on my face and makes it worth it. In the break room, we tell each other the funny stories of the drunks that we met on the previous night. Occasionally, I get to see a chick fight between two hookers who are fighting to work the corner by the High Limit poker room. Fun!

At the end of the day my thought usually is, "We had some grief, we had some laughs, we paid the bills and we made it through smiling."

A little advice in closing. As a player, you should know that it is always nice to respect and tip the dealer. If you are unsure on how to play the hand, ask what you should do. The dealer will never give you wrong advice and will be happy to help. As a dealer, it always helps to smile and try to socialize with the customers, since talkative, upbeat and positive dealers make better tips. Always do your best and stay on top of your game.

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