On-the-Job: Casino Gaming Expert
Max Rubin was involved with the gaming industry in Las Vegas for more than thirty-five years. He was a dealer, pit boss, and shift manager at some of the best casinos in Vegas. Over the years Max worked his way up to the top job of casino manager, where he was in charge of overall operations. Then Max began working the other side of the tables as a professional gambler; he’s also the author of Comp City, a guide on how to receive complimentary meals, rooms, and reduced airfare from the casinos. Max shares his experiences and offers insider tips for aspiring casino workers.
The most significant change I saw over a twenty-five year span is the shift in attitudes toward the customer at the casinos.
It used to be they weren’t interested in you unless you were a high roller or a wiseguy. They weren’t interested in women coming in the casinos either. Now the casinos are going out of their way to cater to women and families.
It used to be pretty much only men were at the tables in the casinos, and there were only male dealers. Then a couple of places added slot machines to keep the wives busy while their husbands gambled. Now slot machines make up 60 percent of all the revenue at most of the casinos. And they found out that gamblers like women dealers. I remember it was 1972 when the first woman on the Strip was hired. Now there are almost as many women dealers working the Strip as men. The casinos also found that women dealers on the whole make better employees. They tend to steal less, don’t abuse drugs as often, and generally work harder.
Employers are looking for people who have enthusiasm, those who can work well with people. This is the entertainment business, not a straight gambling business anymore. It’s more like you’re throwing a party for the people who are coming in. You’ve got to be good at entertaining.
The jobs [being a dealer] themselves are simple to learn. It’s a fun, fun thing to do. You can be a professional dealer after a month or two, making close to $100 a day at some of the new places. In terms of how to get the best tips, or tokes as they are called in this business, there’s no secret really. You just give the customers a lot of service, try to be funny, or amusing, or keep it light. It’s really the same as delivering good service if you were working as a waiter or at any other service-related job.
It is true that in Vegas, you usually don’t start out dealing in one of the major casinos. You start out at one of the break-in places off the Strip and work your way up to better-paying jobs as you gain experience. However, at some of the new casinos they are opening in other parts of the country, they train their own people [at the company’s training school]. If you get a job there, you could be making top dollar right away.
Surveillance jobs are very low paying compared to other casino jobs. They only pay about $14-$18 an hour. It’s a good job if you are going to school and want to study at night. That’s what most people do. You basically sit in front of a hundred TV consoles or computer monitors that scan the casino looking for trouble. It’s simple to learn, but there’s little opportunity for advancement.
One of the best jobs to have in the casino is that of host or in casino marketing. That’s the person who handles giving out comps, the free passes and extra perks. You’re giving out free stuff, and that’s fun. There’s no stress in that.
From dealer, the next step up is that of floorperson or floor manager. The interesting thing is if you take a job as a floorperson, even though it’s a promotion, you usually are taking a cut in pay. Floor managers don’t make as much as dealers because they are no longer getting tips. From floorperson the next step up is pit boss then shift boss then casino boss. It’s usually a ten-year process to make it to casino boss, but definitely worth it if you want to make a career out of working in this casino industry.