Tuesday, July 20, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Cramped Hands, Numb Fingers 

Day two of Dealer School with the Canadian Gaming Institute. On the first day we were given a brief overview of the school. Apparently this is the only internationally recognized gaming school in all of Canada. Graduates have gone on to work for cruise ships and casinos all over the world. This is quality training that I'm getting, and I'm really excited about it.

Day one all we did were counting excercises and learning how to shuffle. Today all we did were counting excercises and learning how to hold and handle chips. These are full eight hour days with few breaks. With all the abuse that my hands have undergone in the last two days, it's a miracle that I can type at all. (Just goes to show you that I am part of the Instant Messaging Generation) There is a specific way to do everything with no room at all for individual style. By making sure that every single dealer does everything exactly the same way they can ensure several things.

1. The Customer must be able to see everything
The way we shuffle ensures that the side of the deck facing the customer is never obscured at any time. At the same time, the customer must not be able to see the value of any cards within the deck. The whole deal where you take the two halves of a deck, put your index fingers in the middle and use your thumbs to noisily alternate the cards with one another is (contrary to popular belief) not the way to shuffle. For one thing, it wears out the cards too quickly, which is a security hazard because then the cards lend themselves to marking. For another, that method raises the cards to a height above the table at which the customer can see card values. If you have a savvy customer, they could use that information to count cards. The reason that the side facing the customer is never obscured at any time is that it allows the people sitting at the table to see that the cards are indeed being mixed and that there is no possible way that I can removed/add/alter any of the cards.

2. The Cameras must be able to see everything
Every inch of the gaming floor is montiored via closed circuit television. Not to mention that surveilance is maintained also on the areas surrounding the gaming floor. The cameras used for this purpose are so powerful that the ones mounted on the outside of the building (for to secure the carpark) can read a license plate number off a car 2 km away. Obviously security is paramount when you think about the large, large volumes of money that are being exchanged, untraced in the casino. Not only does the casino want to maintain safety within, they are also concerned with the safe passage of their customers in and out of the casino. More importantly, the cameras are a good way of proving to the Gaming Commission that we are not running a scam operation. The way that I deal cards and chips are such that the camera can see exactly how many chips I have, who I'm giving the chips to and how many. They can see that I am shuffling according to regulation, and they can see that the cards are being properly mixed. If a customer suspects a dealer of shortchanging them, the casino wants to be able to pull the video of that table and that specific game and prove that nothing shady was going on.

3. The Table must be SECURE
The chips used for gambling purposes are as good as cash. The chips typically laid out in front of me are in excess of $30 000. It is my responsibility to ensure that the chips are secure. If someone was to wave a gun in my face and demand the chips, well, then of course I hand over everything I have. It wouldn't matter anyway, security is never more than a shout away and you can bet that those powerful cameras have recorded the perp's DNA. I never have to endanger myself to protect the chips. No one would be able to get away with anything like that. What I am guarding against is the more subtle sneaking away of a few chips here, correcting a bet after a hand is revealed, stealing from my tray when I'm dealing with a customer on the other end of the table, etc. Things that are harder to catch. This translates into a myriad of rules that govern my posture, my hand movements and how my fingers move.

All-in-all there is more to this than I would have imagined in my wildest dreams. In fact, this is a five-week Blackjack course. That's all I'm learning from July 19th-August19th. Blackjack. Initially I thought that a ridiculous amount of time to learn a game that primary school children play on the sly in the courtyard. I retract that statement as of now.

posted by Joie! at 9:06 p.m.


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