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Careers in Blackjack

There are many ways to earn a living through blackjack without becoming a professional player. For those who might be seeking a career on the other side of the table, here are some of the opportunities available along with the associated job requirements and likely income levels.

Blackjack Dealers

The most obvious paid employees in the world of blackjack are dealers. The job requires special training, which is usually obtained at a casino dealing school that prepares enrollees for entry-level positions. Skills acquired will include how to deal blackjack and often other games, as well as the proper ways to accept bets, pay winners and collect from non-winners. Student dealers also learn concepts, practices and procedures that are common in casinos and the gaming industry. A solid basic education is required, too, such as a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Blackjack dealers are responsible for handling player transactions, notifying pit supervisors of any irregularities or disputes that may arise during the game, working under immediate supervision and reporting to a supervisor or manager. According to Salary.com, the median expected salary for a typical blackjack dealer in the United States is $15,007. Some 90% of all dealers earn a base of at least $11,313, while the top 10% are paid $17,913 or more. Although the hourly wage can be as low as the mandated national minimum of $7.25, tips contribute greatly and can as much as double a good dealer’s income to the $20,0000~$30,000 range.

Thanks to the proliferation of casino gaming worldwide, blackjack dealers are almost constantly in demand. Newcomers to the field, however, will need to pass an “audition” with casino management and be willing to work any day of the week and any shift. It is useful when starting out to gain some direct experience dealing in a smaller casino before applying for work at a large resort where the competition for positions can be heavy.

To the Top of the Pit and Beyond

Casinos like to rotate dealers and croupiers through various games and tables in order to build their experience and usefulness. Blackjack dealers who excel at the lower level of the pit may move up after a year or two to a supervisory role. A pit supervisor, who oversees one or more tables in a specific area of the pit, will earn $21.39 hourly on average or upwards of $44,000 per year. Responsibilities include making sure customers behave properly and protecting gaming personnel from abuse. They also must ensure that games are conducted in compliance with federal and state gaming regulations.

Depending on the size of the casino, there may be any number of other types of supervisory positions available in the pit area, from assistant pit supervisor to shift manager. The so-called “pit boss” may be known by the title “Casino Pit Manager.” Although the power of this position has diminished somewhat as technology-driven marketing departments have taken over the function of comping players, the pit boss still manages the pit crew, directs daily activities in an assigned area of the casino, watches the casino floor, and looks for players who are card counters or anyone who might be cheating, including dealers.

It usually takes no less than five years of pit experience to rise to this level of management, plus a track record of good judgment and the ability to accomplish goals with a certain degree of creativity. A pit boss can expect an average annual salary of around $59,597. Salary.com indicates that 90% of all employees in this position earn at least $43,539 per year, while the top 10% have annual incomes on the order of $93,583 or more.

Other ways to make a living from blackjack without playing professionally or working for a casino include teaching at a certified dealing school, offering private lessons to players, or producing/selling educational materials such as blackjack books or DVDs. One Las Vegas-based tutor of card counting charges $1,500~$3,000 per private lesson lasting a day or $795 per person in a class of up to six students trained from 10am to 7pm—a lucrative business for the right person.

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