The Most Thankless Job in Poker — Dealing
Seems like the only time most of us think about poker dealers is when one makes a mistake.
Think about it.
In my twenty-plus years in this business, I can’t remember too many players coming up and saying, “you know, the dealers in this tournament were wonderful.” But if there’s a mistake or a misdeal, the controversy can generate a 50-page thread on 2+2.
Millions of hands are dealt out at the World Series of Poker every year. When you add up not just what happens in the gold bracelet events, but all the satellites, sit-n-go’s, and cash games running 24-hours-a-day across 400 poker tables, that’s almost an incalculable number of cards pitched and pots pushed.
There are bound to be some mistakes, people. Get over it. Dealers are human too (most of them, anyway — I’m not sure about Chris Quan).
Over the years, I’ve come to know some poker dealers as my dearest friends. I’ve seen the frustration in their eyes when they get ripped by a player and felt the disappointment they experience when things aren’t going well. When one dealer makes a mistake somewhere, that story gets told and retold and is sometimes even reported. Unfortunately, the reputation of the entire staff suffers even though the number of sub-par dealers is very small. I can’t tell you how many times players have come up to me protesting about mistakes made by dealers (which are inevitable), prompting the unfairly harsh collective judgment that “these dealers suck,” or “this bunch is the worst ever.” Strange too, that I usually hear this from poker players who are losers and tell a lot of bad beat stories. Coincidence? I think not.
Oh, but what about Dealer X who did this or that? Sure, dealers sometimes make bad mistakes. With millions of hands dealt, it happens! Out of a thousand, a few are even incompetent and should be released. But don’t let the mistakes of a few tarnish the hundreds of great dealers who are essential to this business.
Fact is, WSOP dealers have a tough job and as payouts increase and there’s more on the line, there’s a lot more pressure on the dealers who are assigned to Day Threes. high-stakes cash games, and final tables. By the way, the high-stakes players are usually the worst assholes and biggest complainers. The dealers can’t say that, but I will. You so-called “professionals” should be ashamed of some of the stories I’ve heard. One of these days I’m going to collect all the stories and put them in a book, and leave some of you swinging by your balls.
Do you think the job’s easy and they make lots of money? Think again. Most dealers come to Las Vegas and can barely get by on what they make, once all the travel expenses, hotel/rental housing is paid, meals are consumed, and the bills back at home add up. Some dealers even work two jobs in order to make ends meet — dealing 40 hours at the WSOP following by shifts at some other property. You try working 70 hours a week for five straight weeks and not make a mistake. This is the reality of a life spent as a tournament dealer. It’s not the life of a rock star. It’s not even the life of a groupie.
Here’s a two-part video expose on what it’s like dealing at the WSOP. While the job can sure be fun at times and has its rewarding moments, it’s also a grind.
Will you please join with me and pledge to say “thank you” to our dealers. Treat them with respect, because they’re professionals who in many cases have put many years into their craft. If a dealer is especially efficient or helpful and you notice, then by all means tell a supervisor. The best way to make someone’s day is to recognize hard work and excellence with a compliment.
Remember — dealing is the most thankless job in poker.
Here are two of the best poker dealers in the business — Miranda Miller and Andy Tillman. I hope you enjoy their thoughts on what it’s like to deal with the series every year.
Note: Both videos were shot and edited at last year’s World Series of Poker by WSOP.com staff video production guru Collin Christenbury.