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The education of a blackjack dealer, part 4

"The latter days of dealing"
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After receiving word that I had been offered a position as a dealer, I was automatically scheduled for a 3 day orientation class. Thankfully all my friends were also there, so it was tolerable. After that ended, we returned to the gaming academy to learn more card games, except now we were being paid to attend.

I was among a small group that were fitted for uniforms almost immediately, it seemed there was a shortage of uniforms in general and I was lucky they had them in my size. I soon discovered that dealer uniforms have no pockets, anything like gum, breath mints, cigarettes and lighters had to be stored in your sock.
The academy classes continued, we learned to deal 3 Card Poker and Let It Ride, we laughed and joked more as the worst was behind us, or so we thought. Then one day in late September the coach came upstairs and called a group of us aside, and we were given our shifts. I got the 4:00 am to 12:00 noon and it was to commence the following week.

That first day is etched in my memory. As I walked from the parking lot to the employees entrance, fear and doubt crept into what little self-confidence I had. Was I ready for this? I clocked in and waited with the others for the Buzz to commence. The Buzz was a bi-weekly occurrence where important information was passed on to the dealers. All of us new dealers were introduced to group and we were made to feel welcome.

I was introduced to Tina, she would be my shadow for about a week. She would stand off to my right and monitor me and assist if needed. We headed up to the gaming floor, the sweat began to roll and my heart began to beat wildly. We made our way to my assigned table where I tapped the dealer there out.

Tapping out in casino speak is placing your right hand on the dealers left shoulder and saying that you were ready. The dealer then vigorously claps his hands a few times and shows them front and back to the overhead cameras, this shows they are not attempting to take any chips with them.

I stepped up to the dealer position and repeated the hand clapping and hand showing routine, this proves that I am not bringing anything to the table. I asked the players to place their bets and I swept my hand from left to right to indicate that it was safe to bet. After a few seconds I announced no more bets and swept my hand from right to left to indicate that betting was closed.

All this is done for the overhead camera a.k.a. the eye in the sky, it can see you but not hear you, so the gestures are important and were drummed into our head from day one. I then begin to pull cards from the shoe, we had done this for almost two months straight so it wasn't too bad.

Now all the players get 2 cards up, I get one card up and one card down.I go to each player to see if they want a hit or are going to stand. I flip my bottom cards, its a 10 and the top card is a seven. Dealers hold on a hard 17, that's any picture card and its worth 10 points and a seven card. The table wins, everybody gets paid. I collect the cards and begin the dealing process again.

You deal for an hour and 20 minutes, then you are tapped out for a twenty minute break. Tina said I did good. We took a break and returned. The rest of the day was uneventful. At just a little before Noon I am tapped out, its time to go home. The next day was a repeat of the first, and the third started out the same, except about 2 hours into it they took Tina away to deal a different game, I got a new shadow named Bill.

Two hours later they took Bill away, and I was on my own. The pit boss said, "If I had trouble to call out." I had no problems. There had been visiting bosses from a sister casino that had been on the property since by first day, they would randomly pull both new and experienced dealers off a game and take them back to the training academy for a pop quiz.

Then they would stand and observe mostly the newer dealers for about an hour or better. As I was leaving one day about a week after my pop quiz, the table game supervisor for the property called me over. I was introduced to one of these observers, seems he wanted to say something to me.

 "I was a little concerned about you", he stated, "you had this deer-in-the-headlights look when you first started dealing. Now you're laughing and joking with your players, and I now believe that you will be all right.", he finished.

That was the end of my having a shadow.

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