Poker dealers usually make $10 to $15 per hour plus tips. This translates to a minimum of $10,000 per year (for part-time dealers who receive very few tips) to over $80,000 per year (for those who work full-time and get excellent tips).
This applies to the US, the UK, and any other high income country provided there is enough demand for poker dealers.
While poker is very popular in America, which means there will always be jobs available — the same is not true for countries in which the game has not gained the same popularity.
And although some poker dealers make a living by dealing private games, it is usually best not to rely on those alone.
Generally, tips will be much higher in the US compared to the UK and Europe. This is true for all casino games, not just poker.
Poker dealer salaries compared
For the record, everything you’ll read in this article comes from actual experience and isn’t just copy paste from other sites.
I have worked in a few different casinos and have had the chance to meet many other dealers including freelancers.
Still, I had a look at a few job ads on different sites to check the actual salaries in the US and in the UK, and I have pasted them in the following table.
Keep in mind, this refers to the hourly pay excluding tips or bonuses.
This means the actual money earned per hour will be either slightly more (e.g. £12 instead of £10) or significantly more depending on gratuities.
Some casinos pay extra for every night shift (or every hour worked after, say, 10pm) but it won’t be a big difference.
|Room||Hourly Pay||Full Time|
As you can see, this pretty much reflects what you read in the first paragraph — $10 to $15 per hour excluding tips, and in some cases these will end up being higher than the hourly wage itself (especially in the US).
As for the working hours, it all depends on the room or casino you work at.
Busy poker rooms will offer full-time contracts just because 1) they are open every day until late, or even 24/7, and 2) they will always get games even on a bad night.
This means there must be enough dealers available, and those dealers must work enough hours to cover different shifts.
Conversely, smaller casinos may only offer part-time jobs. In this case, casino dealers (e.g. roulette dealers) may be trained to deal poker as well, just so there is no need to hire a bunch of full-time poker dealers.
Casino employees vs freelance poker dealers
The majority of poker dealers are employed by a single casino, or poker room, and don’t need to travel to work.
Then there are freelancers — dealers who make a living by working at different events, such as big tournaments, and/or private games.
Generally speaking, freelance dealers make more than those employed by a casino.
And if they deal private games as well, they can earn significantly more. Especially if the players tip well.
The issue with private games is, they are not as reliable as actual poker rooms or casinos. They are occasional — you won’t get a full-time contract for them.
Plus, they may be illegal, or semi-legal (I don’t encourage anyone to break the law, I am simply saying some states/countries do not allow them in which case both the dealer and the players run the risk of being caught).
Do poker dealers share their tips?
In short: it depends!
It’s a frustrating answer, I know, but it does depend on the procedures of the casino.
In some casinos, poker dealers will keep their own tips and cash them out at the end of their shift.
In other casinos, poker dealers will share their tips with the whole poker team. And in some cases, tips from all departments will be shared between all employees, including management.
In this case, poker dealers will usually receive their share at the end of the week, or month, after the amount has been worked out based on how many hours they worked.
In general, if poker dealers get to keep their own tips, they will be much higher.
Like dealing? How much you make is irrelevant
“If you find a job you love, you’ll never work again.”
Sounds crazy, right? But the truth is that working in a casino is usually a love or hate thing, and those who love it often end up working in casinos their whole career regardless of the salary.
I have met many dealers, including poker dealers, who have had the opportunity to get a different job and earn more money, but kept their job in a casino just because they enjoyed it so much.
Plus, as you’ve seen, the pay is actually pretty good if you get to keep your own tips and work full-time.
My advice: do not become a dealer because you think it pays well. Do become a dealer if you genuinely enjoy poker and want to make a living off it (that is, dealing rather than playing).
Poker dealer duties
And just in case you thought dealing poker was the easiest job in the world, here is a list of all the tasks and responsibilities of a dealer.
- Track the pot and work out the rake of each pot (a small percentage that goes to the casino)
- Control the table (tell the players it’s their turn to act, keep the game going, tell off any player who does something wrong)
- Call the floor over whenever there is a major dispute or whenever they’re not sure about a procedure
- Work nights (or other shifts, of course, but it’s usually nights, for instance 8pm until 4am)
- Shuffle the deck, deal the cards, move and cut down the chips quickly (they make it look easy but it’s not)
- Monitor the game and focus for long periods of time
- Have excellent knowledge of poker rules (this goes way beyond the basics and includes managing side pots, dealing with player’s mistakes, etc.)
- Have a thick skin (most players are nice but occasionally you’ll have to deal with a bad loser)
How much poker dealers make: summary
Although the average hourly pay for poker dealers is quite low, usually $15 or less, the tips make up for that, and in some cases poker dealers end up having a pretty good income just because of the gratuities.
This could be $70,000 per year, or even $100,000 per year — not bad, considering most dealers enjoy their job.
Poker dealers may have to share their tips with their colleagues (either the whole poker team or the whole casino), in which case they probably won’t be very high.
When poker dealers get to keep their own tips, that can increase their income quite significantly.
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