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Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 in Blog, General Poker, World Series of Poker | 23 comments

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 staff video production guru Collin Christenbury.


  1. some of the dealers were great, but wsop should not put dealers at Omaha 8b tables when they dont know the game!

    • @nick
      I been a player for 12 years and I’ve dealt the game for 6 of them. Omaha 8 is my favourite game, I know it inside out and I can tell you it aint easy to read showdowns quickly from multiple hands and quarter/sixth/half the pots super fast. It’s not even a breeze to deal 4 cards to every player every time without getting the number of cards wrong. It’s hard and it’s always going to be a slow game. The players spend a lot of time thinking and the dealer has a lot of work to do compared to simple games like Hold’em.

    • I have been both a semi full time player and a dealer for over 20 years and I will agree with about 90% of what was posted. There is a MAJOR problem with dealers though. Saying that a small portion of them is incompetent is incorrect. Faaaar too many do not do their job the way it’s supposed to be done but in their defense it’s not completely their fault. Dealers school is a complete joke and needs to be severely upgraded, They come into a tourney after “passing” dealers school with no more dealing skiils then when they came in other than NOT dealing counterclockwise. This of course is a slight exxaggeration but seriously not off by much. I’m sorry but casinos simply cannot put dealers in games until they’re fully trained. This is OUR money and an inexperienced dealer can cost players their money. The problem also comes from the floor and management, right up to the tournament director. So very many times an issue comes up where the floor needs to make a ruling and you have to cross your fingers a floor person who actually KNOWS the rule is the one making the ruling. Furthermore, faaaar too many times a different ruling will be made depending on which floor person is called!!! This is completely unacceptable!! As a player this is OUR money we’re spending and supervisors need to get their shit together and COMPLETELY know the rules 100% of the time. I’m sorry but even 99% of the time is NOT acceptable. I actually once asked one of the poker room supervisors at THE biggest poker room in the northeast about a new rule that was announced and he looked at me like i asked him the square root of 3972! Point being is How the hell do you expect your dealers to know the rules if YOU don’t!! As far as the dealers making “mistakes” Ie: flipping a card over accidentally, math mistake, calling a wrong hand etc… Yes it’s going to happen and whenever I’m at the table and a dealer gets ridiculed I will always be the one to defend them BUT when a dealer is losing control of their game because they’re chit chatting or not paying attention, sorry but I’ll be the first one to call them out on it and once again faaaaar too many times when it’s brought to their attention their natural human instinct is to defend themselves even though what their doing is UNDEFENDABLE so naturally the floor has to get called because now they’re arguing with players… once again UNNACCEPTABLE. This happens A LOT and needs to be addressed.

  2. Thank you Nolan for writing about this, it is one of the toughest jobs fir sure, give them major props 🙂

  3. Nolan u are amazing!!!!! Thanks for writing this. I stayed away from the WSOP for my own reasons, but my better half is a dealer, a restart dealer too. He’s a truly great dealer ( I actually can say that without bias cause I used to be his boss BEFORE we were a couple. He works very hard and makes very few, if any, mistakes and has still had people call him stupid, right to his face. Thankfully, he’s calm and has a way about him and gets people back in line. (he’s also 6’4 so that helps) The point you made is accurate, mistakes are made, and they WILL happen, but it’s part of the process. It’s unavoidable as we are human. Players think it’s easy to deal and I’m sure the view from the other side is that it IS easy. However, it’s not as easy as some think. Most players wouldn’t survive a single down in the box before they would snap or crack. I wish more people stuck up for us like you did with this article. I applaud you Sir!

    • We have some rude people dealing in our area.

      Some know what they are doing,bigtime. Some, great but nasty.

      Personality conflicts, arrise.. lol. Booze (not I.. bd daddy is a happy drunk and I rarely play poker boozing).. ahhh.. “clicks” “buddies” “regulars”…

      Most dealers rock.. others are just such nice people.. most non obnoxious players usually try coach a new dealer.. (Ill even give em a pep talk… say they are doing great.. “tell em, NOT to mind any asshole poker players at the table..” n in and on.)

      It’s a complex problem for poker rooms, must be hell to organise the dealers needed for gigs like wsop. …

      “No way they are all pros, my guess”


      Dealers, please, just deal and keep action going.. love yas.. appreciation will be shown in bd’s tip(ssss)

      Be honest Nolan. Some dealers are the assholes.

      Not all. Bahhhhtt.


      Great post.

      Love poker.

  4. great piece Nolan I wholeheartly agree with you. it is tough to be perfect , nobody can too all dealers thank you

  5. If it pays so little, why doesn’t Harrah’s pay them more?

    • Dealing is a service industry job and rely on tips. Casinos pay dealers less than minimum wage

    • Good luck trying to get a company that filed bankruptcy recently to pay ANY of their employees higher wages……Not gonna happen.

  6. Because they pay the dealers minimum wage, they would pay less if they could. Also they do not put the best cash dealers that are experienced everyday in O8 cash section also known as the snake pit to them because those tables are where they make the least money. Why would the best dealers want to make less money?

  7. Thanks Nolan!
    Can you post this in the “Snake Pit?”

  8. Thank you Nolan for those kind and thoughtful comments made. We appreciate this doesn’t happen all that much. One of my dear friends is a wsop dealer she loves what she does. Doesn’t make a lot but truly is here passion in life. This is a job for most people but for a few of use this is the career we chose and hope to continue to do it for many years to come.

  9. I playing a Parx BigStax this pass year and we had a dealer that clearly didn’t deserve to be at the table.
    I had to interject a lot of the players for berating this dealer. I told them this job is not easy and your not making it any easier for this dealer.

    So please treat your dealers with respect and politely correct any mistakes.

    Would you rather self deal?

  10. The wrong questions are being asked. Why did Caesar’s have meetings discussing how to line their own pockets from the WSOP profits? This resulted in the dealers not being represented. If the WSOP is run so well, then why do 100s of quality dealers quit annually? Why are the auditions ran by someone who can’t count a pot down in PLO? Why is Caesar’s more interested in facial hair, earrings, and tattoos than providing a fair wage? Why is Caesar’s more interested in firing someone for forgetting to take a drop than providing great customer service? When the house takes a drop for Open Face Chinese, there is no auto-tip worked in for the dealer like there is at the other casinos – why? These are the right questions! Whenever labor and management are involved, Caesar’s NEVER picks labor!

  11. dealers get totally no respect we can sit in the lowest on the totem pole comes to casinos casinos make all the money$$$$$$$$maple
    the money we treated like garbage we are replaceable commodity ny time in semen do loses job is 5 people waiting for it supervisors and floor people need to be better training handle customers card should I be thrown in dealers curse words should not be allowed but yet to get away with it because you’re like a line lion in a cage 90 percent these people wouldn’t say a word to you in the street because they probably get their asses beach beat but in the casinolisten casino the protected she knows she told a higher standards for their dealers it should not let players get away with it today want players like dragon diction alcoholics gary dick did they are a d******* they should all go f*** themselves casinos in the players

  12. Most dealers get paid pretty damn good for the overall deliverables for the job. A cash game dealer makes min wage plus average of $1 hand dealing cash games at about 35 hands a hour.. More than many jobs pay in Vegas… Tourney dealers def make less per down at WSOP but it’s a resume builder for many… You gotta give to take

  13. Ive been seeing the media back our dealers up more as of late. I love it. It should happen more often. I was considered one of the fastest and best in the business. Ive dealt many final and feature tables along with the Big One and PPC. Numerous WSOPC stops. Considered for Nov 9 and dealer of the year. I dont deal anymore. In fact the last 3 years i dealt i didnt decide to go the week before the WSOP started because i didnt want to deal anymore. I loved my job. It took its toll on me. The players changed my outlook. Is it my choice/fault in the end? Yes but every human has their breaking point. I remember once I was berated during the PPC because I didnt spread my stub so every card could be seen? Really? I can think of one pro that knows my name. Erick Lindgren is the only pro that would greet me by name every time I sat down. It made my day to see his table in my string. Ive only ever seen one player post about me but they didnt know my name. My last year a player told a floor “in my 10 years at the series ive never seen a better dealer than that guy over there”. The floors response? “Oh well this is his last day, hes quitting” What these pros dont realize is the cycle. They want more chips and more play then the house will charge more juice. The tournaments last longer so the dealers get paid less. This combined with less tips and tokes because players dont tip as good or at all because more juice is taken or because “the dealers are horrible” means the dealers make less. The great ones leave the business or get off the road. This leads to an influx of new dealers which in return piss off the players. The players then group us all together and say the dealers are horrible and they tip even less. Even more of the greats quit. Which leads to more new/bad dealers. They blame the WSOP for hiring bad dealers but they dont realize their constant complaints and stinginess with tips is continuing the cycle. Great ones quit, new ones come in. The cycle will never end because the players complaints and tips will never get better, only worse. There has to be a reason for the great ones to stay to stop the cycle but unfortunately that will never happen. I make about half of what I would as a dealer and I am happy with and love my job. As to Johnnie Walker, almost every job in the world can be trained and taught proficiently. Dealing poker is one of the few you can only teach the basics as there are so many gray areas. Most of what a dealer learns must be through trial and error or the pain of losing money while learning to play in order to learn more about the game. What they make is well earned and in most cases they deserve more. I like to compare tipping in live to tipping at a restaurant. If the waitress brings out food that doesnt taste good is it her fault? No its the cooks. If you lose a hand or get bad beat is it the dealers fault? No, play better. Even with bad food when the waitress does what she can to fix it and provides great service do you tip them less? No because the food wasnt their fault. Did i provide you with great service? Did i deal fast and efficiently? Was i friendly? Then why wont u tip me? No u dont have to tip me cause u never won a hand while i was in the box but as im leaving throw me something and say hey good dealing. People will tip the same everytime for a service that they will never see a return on. But here i am dealing fast and efficient giving great service to give u every chance possible to get a return on ur investment and all i get is “ur the worst dealer ever” because u play bad? U spend 100 at ruths chris and tip 20 but i push u a 500 profit pot and u painfully give me a dollar or nothing? I understand variance so if that is ur arguement. (Keep in mind that if i give u more hands per hour ur variance goes down) Tip according to my service and not the size of the pot. U sat at that restaurant for an hour and saw the server for 5 minutes combined if that and she gets 20? I just sat in front of u for 30 minutes and i get a couple bucks if that? My parting words. We will always and i mean always have someone to deal to. You will not always have a good dealer.

  14. Great comment Billy Bob. Jennifer has a great idea. I was a poker room manager who came up through the ranks in L.V. and once a year I had a dealers appreciation tournament with the regular players volunteering to deal. The house put up the money and the winners were allowed to tip the dealers. There was always a newfound respect for the dealers and players alike. Not to mention a lot of fun was had by all, not a lot of poker hands, but a lot of fun. After the tournament the final 10 players would play in a private tournament for employees only. Each would pick one of the more notorious players from a hat and was supposed to imitate them for the duration of the one table tournament. The point was not to poke fun but top blow off a little steam and for each to realize that they can be taken in stride no matter how difficul;t they were to fade on a day to day basis. A little house appreciation and recognition goes a long way.

    P.S. the bubble guy would get to deal the employee only tournament.

    #burn’t out but still swinging for improvements.

  15. Great article, AS ALWAYS!!!!

  16. I worked as a cash game dealer at WSOP 2011..cleared over 9k for the 7 weeks….2012…7k…..2013..5k…2014..4k….The WSOP hires 500 more dealers than they need..maybe more than that..because it sucks so bad…. hundreds walk out within the first week…this leaves people working 5 downs a shift for weeks at a time till it all weeds out…it was worse every year I worked there and I’m glad to be out.

  17. Why don’t they have dealer competitions and rewards for them. I know some great ones that would love the chance.

    • Might even be fun to narrow it to 20 or so, let people bet on the outcome and televise it?


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