How to Become a Poker Dealer in California
If you are passionate about poker, there are many ways to involve yourself in its professional waters.
Playing poker can be a lucrative profession by itself – the best players out there make millions of dollars every year.
However, poker dealers are also very much respected in the poker community since poker games wouldn’t be possible without them.
These skillful individuals have salaries of between $20,000 and $100,000 a year. California is a land of opportunity, and people can make money in all sorts of ways, including dealing poker cards.
So if you already know the rules of poker and you have sleight of hand, here is how you can become a poker dealer in the state of California.
A Few Tips To Becoming A Californian Poker Dealer
Read these tips carefully and you will have already completed the first step in finding your new profession.
# The Essentials
To become a poker dealer in California, or anywhere else in the world, you need to learn the rules of every poker variant. While Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker game in the world right now, you might not find a job offer for that particular game. Instead, you may be put at an Omaha table or a 5-card Stud table.
As a player, you are not required to know when and how your cards are dealt; you just need to play them. However, a dealer must know everything, from the position of players who take action to potential rule breakings and penalties.
Apart from the general knowledge of poker and table rules, you also need to be quick to count chips and read poker hands. If a player goes all-in, you need to count their chips as quickly as you can. All of this can be easily achieved through lots of practice.
Shuffling the deck and dealing the cards might look easy when you’re watching a pro dealer do it on TV, but it’s much harder when you try it yourself for the first time. Get yourself a deck and practice.
Another important aspect of becoming a poker dealer is being sociable and patient. Be friendly but not too much. Act professionally but smile from time to time. This will also work toward you getting some tips and making extra money.
Poker sessions can be very long, so you need to be very patient, especially when you’re dealing a high roller game and the players are particularly cautious. A good sitting posture is a must so you don’t develop any back problems during those long sessions.
# Poker Dealer Certification
While it’s good to practice at home or during a local poker game at your friend’s house, it is advised that you get some professional dealer training as well. In fact, some casinos won’t even give you a chance unless you attend a poker class and get a certification.
There are many poker dealer schools in California, and the length of the courses varies from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The prices can also vary; the price is usually related to the length of the course. If you’re lucky, you can find some free classes from time to time, but you will usually be required to pay, sometimes more than $1000 per course.
Note that although poker dealer classes can help you learn a lot of new things and help you find a job, they are sometimes not enough. Some casinos have their own in-house training programs you will need to go through before you get on their payroll.
# Acquiring a License
If you feel like you have a skill set to become a poker dealer in California, you need to look for a dealer license.
Working in a licensed casino in California will require a gaming license issued by the state. This document is given to an individual only after all the necessary background checks have been completed. The background checks include passing the drug test and not having any felony convictions in the past, among other things.
Of course, you will also need to provide some legal documents and prove your American citizenship. You will leave your fingerprints and photo ID to the regulators, as well as pay a small processing fee. The renewal of the license takes place every several years.
# Searching for a Job
Knowing the rules of all poker games – check!
Attending a class and getting a certification – check!
Getting a dealer’s license by the Californian government – check!
Now, the final step toward becoming a dealer in the state of California is exploring the market and looking for job opportunities. Honestly, it’s not easy breaking into the poker industry. There are a lot of people who will be looking for the same job as yourself, considering that it pays well and it can actually be a lot of fun.
The best way to approach your job hunt is to try and find a nearby casino, maybe half-an-hour drive from your home. Locate a small casino that’s looking for dealers and try your luck there. This will give you some much-needed experience to put on your CV before you start searching for positions at high-stakes tournaments and live events.
Finding a job at a large tournament can sometimes be easier than looking for employment at small casino rooms. When somebody organizes a big event, they tend to be short on staff because there are a lot of tables that need covering. Luckily for you, there are plenty of big poker events in California.
Don’t be afraid to make compromises. If a casino is not looking for poker dealers right now but there’s a position open for blackjack or baccarat, take it! This will give you a chance to meet the people from the casino world and earn their trust, which will put you high on the list of getting a poker dealer job once it is needed.
# Maintaining a Professional Appearance
It should go without saying that you always need to look professional when you show up for interviews or an actual job. Casinos normally have strict dress codes for their staff, so make sure to always follow the rules.
In theory, dealing cards at a poker table is easy. However, you also need to consider your working environment and everything that goes beyond a game of poker.
Sometimes, the players can be rude to dealers, especially if they’re a little drunk or they keep losing. If a player goes over the line, they will be kicked out, but until that happens, you need to stay calm and try not to make the situation worse.
You should also be wary of the fact that this job requires long working hours, and that more often than not, you will be working during the night. Poker rooms are dark and can be filled with cigarette smoke. Add that to the fact that you will be sitting in a chair most of the time, and you will realize that this job can have plenty of negative effects on your health.
Make sure to work out, eat well, and get enough sleep, as you will need concentration to count cards and chips all night long.
I hope this guide has helped you understand what is necessary to become a poker dealer in California. You can say that this is an easy high-paying job, but there are many hoops you need to jump through before you actually get it.
The most important thing is for you to have a passion for poker and to want this to be your profession. If that is, in fact, the case, you will easily go through all the remaining formalities. Other than that, good luck!