I’m a casino dealer. I deal poker as well as all other casino games.
Based on what I’ve seen and experienced throughout the years, I would say dealer abuse is still tolerated from time to time but it’s certainly not as bad as it used to be.
Whereas in the past things like throwing cards or the most offensive words seemed to be the norm, nowadays management is a lot stricter, and the dealers a lot happier.
Being a casino dealer is still a stressful job, and you still have to put up with a fair amount of abuse. But some things are not tolerated anymore and all dealers have the right to not deal to a certain customer if they feel uncomfortable.
Dealer abuse in the 70s and 80s
This is what Jan Fisher — former poker dealer who worked her way up to management and eventually founded the TDA — told High Roller Radio in an interview…
Back in those days, there were no policies against abuse. Players could pretty much treat you any way they wanted to, they could say awful things to you, they could put their cigarettes out on you.
Eric Drache really stepped up and saved my butt when I would not take some abuse and walked out in the middle of a shift, and he did not fire me, and he actually patted me on the back and said “way to go”.
So while the management back then would not stop the abuse, they at least did not expect the dealers to tolerate it, and they would back the dealers who backed themselves.
And then Linda and I later, twenty years ago, decided that no abuse was the way to go, and she started writing in the magazines. She told people that this was going to have to happen. Back in the 70s it was awful, in the 80s it was awful. In the 90s it was just starting to change a little bit.
Verbal vs physical dealer abuse
In general, verbal abuse may be tolerated while physical abuse is a no-no. That being said, it all depends on the room, and it’s not always clear whether a player has actually crossed the line or not.
Verbal abuse that includes racist/gendered insults or obscenity, or any verbal abuse that crosses the line either because of the tone or what is said, is obviously not acceptable.
Physical abuse that’s more of a joke, such as a friendly slap on the shoulder by a regular who knows the dealer, may be acceptable (although personally I would never do that).
I’ve been dealing poker as well as other casino games for years, and although I’ve never been punched or spat at, there have been a few occasions where the player’s behavior was clearly abusive.
Here are some of my worst stories as a dealer…
Worst abuse I’ve experienced as a dealer
- I was working the graveyard shift and this guy showed up at the roulette table. Drunk and possibly high as well. He would play the same ten numbers every spin, and they never came in. You could tell he was a miserable/mean person in general, but after losing so many times he turned into one of the worst persons I ever saw in my life. He called me every single word imaginable, threatened to kill me, and basically behaved like an aggressive drug addict. The pit boss was watching and did nothing.
- I dealt to a poker player who was known for being abusive and really mean in general. When he was winning, or breaking even, then he was alright. But he was a very bad loser. He threw the cards at me more than once and called me names countless times. He once lost an all-in preflop with aces and when I was about to count his chips (his opponent had slightly less) he threw them toward me on purpose so I would have to chip up and count them again.
- One of the poker players in a casino I worked at was a pathological gambler. He would play all casino games, but he was obsessed with poker for whatever reason. He would play every single day and got to the point where he was always in a bad mood. Again, this guy clearly had a gambling problem. I remember one time where he had been card dead for a while and he would constantly stare at me, which was very uncomfortable. He also acted aggressively (e.g. when pushing his chips forward) and kept calling me names. It looked like he was going to kill me. It was so bad another dealer eventually refused to deal to him.
Worst abuse I’ve seen as a dealer
- I once saw a blackjack dealer cry. She was a young girl, about 22, and she had just started dealing, which means she couldn’t possibly be confident and assertive enough. A guy at her table got angry after a few unlucky hands and basically treated her like dirt and even started shouting at her, and she broke into tears. The worst part was, although this guy would be mean with all dealers, he clearly took advantage of the poor girl as she didn’t have the confidence of the more experienced dealers.
- I heard a guy use a gendered insult to a female dealer. The word begins with B and it was so loud the whole floor heard it. I don’t think this guy realized what he just did. And to be fair, the tone wasn’t even aggressive, and the dealer didn’t really care. But obviously it crossed the line, and I was glad a manager stepped up and walked to the roulette table, and kept an eye on him. The guy never said a single word again and left ten minutes later.
- A trainee poker dealer once made a minor mistake. Like a misdeal or something like that. Nothing that would actually cost a player money. But apparently this dealer had been unlucky for one of the players, who then used that mistake as an excuse to start shouting at him aggressively. You could tell it was an overreaction as all other players were surprised to say the least. This guy left the table and kept shouting and said the dealer was the worst dealer he ever saw, and said he was going to speak to a manager so they could fire him.
- I once saw a roulette player say he would kill the inspector. For those who don’t know, the inspector is the person watching the table. I was dealing, and the player made a late bet. I did not accept the bet and he complained. So the inspector stepped up and told him we technically couldn’t accept his bet. Somehow the player took exception to that (I believe he was drunk) and shouted and pointed at him. As security kicked him out, he said he would wait outside the casino and take his head off.
Dealer abuse is still tolerated…
Especially if the player is a “whale”. But thankfully, it’s now the exception rather than the rule.
I’ve also found that some casinos will not tolerate any abuse regardless of who the player is and how much they gamble.
There are casinos where management simply doesn’t care (this applies to all aspects of the job, not just the player’s behavior) and then in other casinos management actually ensures all dealers are protected.
This means either talking to the player who is abusive and telling them to stop, or banning them temporarily or permanently depending on how bad they reacted.
I believe it gets tricky when a player is whispering or staring at the dealer just because there is no actual proof/evidence of the abuse. However, the dealer does have the right to say they’re not comfortable dealing to that person.
Casino dealers are definitely in a much better position now compared to a few decades ago.
Casino dealers must be patient
Just like any other job, the job of a casino dealer has pros and cons. It’s usually a love it or hate it thing, so if you love it you’ll put up with the cons, and if you hate it you’ll quit after a month or so.
Now, in general, casino dealers must be patient. Most customers are nice. Some customers are not so nice. Especially if they have a problem and they’re unable to control their emotions when playing.
So whether you deal poker, roulette, or blackjack, you must learn to detach from those things, keep your mouth shut, and just deal the games.
Of course — anything that crosses the line, or even anything that makes you uncomfortable to the point where it interferes with your job, should at least be reported to a supervisor. And abuse should never be tolerated or accepted.
But as a dealer, you need to be aware that some people lose their mind when they lose their money and subconsciously believe you are the one to blame. Whether it’s obvious or not.
It’s one of the disadvantages of the job, but it’s a disadvantage you can learn to simply ignore because 99 percent of the time it can be ignored. A player who acts like a child (or like… something else) is annoying but doesn’t affect you in any way.
Again, I’m not referring to actual abuse here.
Thanks for reading! Can you share any stories about dealer abuse that you’ve heard of or seen personally? Or would you like to share your thoughts on this? If so, please leave a comment below 👇