Let's call him Derek (NOT the dealer pictured on the left). My favorite dealer, Derek, has been living in Vegas for the past 20 years. He moved here from Texas, but lost the accent long ago. Unlike a lot of the other dealers I've spoken to, Derek started dealing poker more than 10 years ago. He didn't make the move from blackjack or craps when the poker boom hit, he's been dealing poker for what seems like ever. His first casino job was when he was hired at the Binion's steakhouse working as a busboy. He eventually moved up to a server position and from there he became a dealer in the poker room at Binion's. "It's the best move I ever made" he says.
I see Derek's smiling happy face almost everyday when I go to the Rio, so how does the MGM feel about you taking so much time off from work to deal at another casino? "The management over at the MGM is top notch, they are supportive of the WSOP, they encourage us to make the money over here while it's available and they have such a large staff there that they are able to keep all of the shifts covered."
So, speaking of the money, is it worth your while to leave your day job to work over here during the World Series of Poker? I think most of us heard the horror stories last year about the dealers getting the shaft in the money department. "That's not the case this year, we make VERY good money. I'm clearing more than $1500 a week and I'm having a ball. I actually chose not to play in any of the events this year so that I can concentrate on dealing and making that money".
So, how does Harrahs differ from MGM in the way they treat employees? "Well, here's the thing, I'm older, I've been around a while, I know how to keep my nose clean, I know who I shouldn't piss off, who to be nice to and I'm smart enough to stay out of the drama. The dealers that have problems are the ones that show up late to work, take days off and say no to overtime."
"If you are planning on dealing the WSOP at the Rio, you have to take the good with the bad. You have to understand that you might not get a break, you might be working 12 hour days, you can't say no to overtime and you don't piss off the people who pay you." Working at the MGM is definitely a better job for longevity, they treat employees fairly, and the conditions are great. Derek assures me he would never leave the MGM to work for Harrahs, but during the 8 weeks that the World Series of Poker is being played, he'll put up with "the bullshit" to "make that money".
In my opinion, Derek has the ideal personality for a poker dealer. If he's angry, he certainly doesn't show it. I've witnessed him take a load of crap from disgruntled players, including being sworn at and generally degraded, but he always lets those comments roll off his back and proceeds with a smile. Maybe that comes with age, maybe it's just a great personality trait to have, but it works for him.
If Derek could give any advice to give to a new dealer, he would agree with that you have to roll with the punches and treat this as a new job everyday. "Don't take anything personally, don't take it home with you, leave your baggage at the door when you enter and just have fun with it".