Where Do Blackjack Dealers Go to Get Trained?

Blackjack. One word says it all. This game is widely considered the most popular strategy-based casino card game. Blackjack, or 21, is based on a simple premise. The player is tasked with beating the dealer’s hand total without exceeding 21. An Ace +10-value card equals blackjack, or a natural, but any combination of more than 2 cards which totals 21 is simply called 21, not blackjack, and different payouts result. These are but a small sampling of the many intricate rules inherent in the game of blackjack. Anyone who dreams of becoming a blackjack dealer needs to have an in-depth understanding of all the rules of blackjack games, as well as having an easygoing attitude towards blackjack players.

So where do you get started? There are generally 2 options available to casino aficionados seeking to become blackjack dealers. The first is the casino itself. Many land-based casinos around the world, notably those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City are prepared to train blackjack dealers in-house. The in-depth training takes place over several weeks, depending on the intensity of the training regimen in question. The other option is an accredited blackjack course with a college. Both of these options have their benefits.

What does the Blackjack Dealer do at the Table?

While many of us tend to use the term ‘deal’ cards, the correct term used by blackjack dealers in the United States is ‘pitch’ cards. This is the physical action by which the blackjack dealer deals cards to each of the players seated at the table. The blackjack dealer deals one card to each person in turn, and follows this up with a second card. Player cards are dealt facedown to every player in the game. 

Only one of the dealer's card is face up and that one is visible to all players at the table. Next, each of the players in the round will look at their own cards and decide whether to hit, stand, split, or double. The dealer obliges.

If the player's hand total exceeds 21, the player busts and loses the original bet. Play continues around the table until each of the players has acted. Based on the player’s hands, and the rules of the blackjack game, the dealer will act. Typically, the dealer draws to 16 and stands on all 17s (hard and soft). 

The ranking hand total wins – sometimes it's the dealer, sometimes it's the player. That’s blackjack in a nutshell, but the mechanics of all these actions are made possible by the expertise of the blackjack dealer. Training and experience are paramount – dealers without the requisite skills to manage multiple hands of blackjack simultaneously, understand hand totals, rules, and payouts can be detrimental to the casino, and to the player experience.

Many land-based casinos provide players with training through ‘dealer schools’. These are the equivalent of blackjack academies, where novices can learn the art of the blackjack deal. These dealer schools are open to receiving new students every couple of months, as several teaching programs run every year. There are scores of examples of dealer schools that are currently available, such as Thunder Valley Blackjack Dealer School. 

This particular blackjack dealer school accepts online applications from participants, and the course can be completed in 6-8 weeks. During the blackjack training program, expert casino dealers train students how to pitch cards in blackjack, how to remove cards from the table, how to take bets, make payments, comport oneself, and how to become adept at different variants of blackjack such as Atlantic City Blackjack, Las Vegas Strip Blackjack, 21+3 Blackjack, et cetera.

CEG (Casino Education Group) is another fine example of a reputable blackjack school located in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the first things that players learn at blackjack school is the value of individual chips.  Different colored chips have different values, such as Silver $0.50, White $1, Red $5, Green $25, Black $100, and Purple $500. These color rules invariably hold true in all Las Vegas casinos. Cutting chips is next in line. When blackjack dealers ‘cut chips’, they learn to stack them in a way that is easy to determine their value. 

Chips can be stacked 5 tall for quick and easy counting.  Stacks of blackjack chips are cut into equal portions of 5 chips (also knowns as cheques) for counting purposes. The final quota of 5 chips for each player can either be deposited on the table in a bridge format (2 chips stacked + 2 chips stacked + 1 chip on top of both stacks), or as a ‘splash’ with the 5 chips splashed across one another. 

IMPORTANT BLACKJACK DEALER LESSON: As a rule, red stacks are always cut into groups of 5s. Green stacks are cut into groups of 4 at the casino.

Blackjack dealer training also teaches the following:

  • How to pluck cheques (chips) from the chip tray (done with index finger and thumb and middle finger to feed additional cheques).
  • How to plug blackjack cards from the shoe
  • How to shuffle cards 
  • How to strip cards (4-7 strips known as a top strip) 
  • How to lace cards 
  • Blackjack card placements (players first then 1 to dealer, then 2nd card to players)
  • How to sweep cards off the table
  • How to play the insurance bet
  • How to play split bets 
  • How to double down 
  • How to surrender a bad hand against the dealer’s upcard
  • How to change money
  • How to change cheques
  • How to color up (cashing out)

The Requirements of Becoming a Professional Blackjack Dealer

Each state in the US has different requirements vis-a-vis how to become a licensed and certified blackjack dealer. At the very least, blackjack dealers are required to hold a certificate from a reputable college, or blackjack academy. Professional blackjack dealers must be high school graduates, with a certificate in hand attesting to their blackjack training. As stated earlier, there are typically 2 avenues to becoming a professional blackjack dealer. The first approach is via a reputable land-based casino training program, of which there are many. The other option is a casino school or academy, or a college which offers training for becoming a blackjack dealer.

All students are required to understand the mechanics of blackjack games, including the rules of individual games, the physical requirements of working with players, chips, cards, and cash. Given that basic mathematics is sacrosanct, students must display an aptitude for quick calculation of winnings, hand totals, and multi-player blackjack betting. Beyond the rules of play, and the mechanics of blackjack, blackjack dealers must also be familiar with state gambling rules and regulations, casino rules and regulations, and general casino etiquette. To this end, it is imperative that blackjack dealers have exceptional people skills.

All applicants for blackjack dealer positions undergo rigorous criminal background checks, ID verification, and screening. Given that you are working front and center at the casino, with players and lots of real money changing hands, security considerations are a top priority. Among the many responsibilities of blackjack dealers are the smooth functioning of blackjack games at the table, the accuracy of payouts, and the ability to provide quick coaching tips to new blackjack players. Naturally, blackjack dealers are required to keep their tables running smoothly, with discards collected after every round of play, chips neatly stacked back into the rack, and all cash deposits processed with the utmost efficiency.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Blackjack Casino Dealer?

Blackjack casino dealers get to live the life that so many people dream of. They live, work, and enjoy the casino life – Glitz and glam, lots of pulse-pounding entertainment, and many casino perks like discounts, employee benefits, big tips from high rollers, and interactions with interesting people on a daily basis. Some blackjack dealers get to progress through the ranks to become casino managers, although this process can take a considerable time to occur. Players who are on a roll tend to splash the cash and tip the dealer accordingly. The same can't be said of players who are losing lots of money – they may often accuse the dealer of being behind a casino conspiracy to defraud them.

As a blackjack dealer, you must be prepared to stand for long periods of time. In fact, you will be standing for the full duration of your shift, which typically run for several hours at a time. Since casinos allow players to drink and smoke at the tables, blackjack dealers are required to put up with things like dry eyes, smoke-filled tables, and the occasional badly-behaved drunkard. For the most part, the life of a dealer has improved considerably over the years. Nowadays, casinos feature top-of-the-line air filtration systems and air conditioning systems to purify and cleanse the air of toxins, making it more pleasant for other players and dealers to be in this type of environment. Among the many benefits of becoming a blackjack casino dealer are the following:

•    No college degree required
•    Competitive pay (hourly + tips)
•    Fantastic benefits for employees
•    Transfer to different casinos all over the world

Salaries for Blackjack Dealers

Salaries for blackjack dealers vary from one casino to the next, and from state to state. Typically, the average casino dealer can expect to make $50,000 per annum during their first year. When casinos allow blackjack dealers to keep their tips, their earnings can rise as high as $100,000 + per year. Naturally, your tips will improve dramatically if you treat your players well. That's why it's just as important to have practiced hands as a blackjack dealer as it is to have incredible people skills for the players you're working with. 

The type of blackjack table you're assigned to will also determine your salary. Clearly a $500 blackjack table is likely to generate far more tips than a $25 blackjack table. There are many avenues to explore when searching for blackjack dealer positions, notably casino job offerings at casino-specific job search sites, or conventional options like Monster.com, Indeed, or Casino Careers.

Now that you know what to expect as a blackjack dealer, the next step is to pick the perfect blackjack training platform to learn the skills before applying for a job at a casino.