You gotta know when to hold ‘em

Thousands of dollars move through a casino every day, so hiring untrained staff is not an option. Whenever a casino is built, the search for experienced bartenders, servers, slot technicians and dealers begins. 

Often owned and run by veterans of the gaming industry, gaming and dealer schools teach staff to not just become aficionados at everything from poker to roulette; they also train them to be responsible, professional frontline representatives of the casino for which they work. 

Michael LaFroscia, owner of Casino Career Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says that whenever a new casino is opened, it just makes sense for a casino school to be in place beforehand and certainly for a significant period afterwards. 

“If a casino tries to go with in-house training instead of using a dedicated school, it is taking its own experienced staff away from their jobs for periods of time that will impact their production,” he says. 

“Workers will also tend to be more dedicated and take the job more seriously if they’ve had to pay for their courses.” 

There are other benefits to using schools to train workers. “People will have different capacities to learn,” continues LaFroscia, “and some may need more training than others. 

“When they attend the school, they can stay as long as is necessary for them to perfect their skills, but if they are trained in the casino, they may be put on the job before they’re ready, and it won’t be long before they are demoted or let go.” 

Some casinos offer training incentives in the form of reimbursement programmes. “Casinos recognise that people have made the effort by paying for their dealer course,” says LaFroscia, “and so some will offer to reimburse those workers for the cost of the course if they are with a casino for, say, a year and have done well there. 

“This also forms a bond between the casino and the worker.” 

Charles “Chaz” Allen is ex-military and owns Professional Dealer And Player School Inc. in Jacksonville Florida. He has played poker for over 40 years and was a poker and blackjack dealer in one of the top casinos in the world for four years. His main training focus in his school is poker dealers as they tend to make more money than others, but they have to have the mental capacity for the game. When asked his opinion about setting up a casino in the Cayman Islands he is quick to state the positives of doing so. 

“If they are going to pass a law [allowing for a casino], which I think they should, they should look at other islands like the Dominican Republic, which now has the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. The Cayman Islands are losing a lot of money not having one.” 

Allen said that even setting up a temporary school would be a necessity to train local staff without casino experience, rather than training them in-house or overseas. 

“Setting up a training room for these purposes is not complicated. All you need are the tables, cards and accessories and you’re ready to go.”
Allen says that having a casino in an area raises the revenue of those residents, and LaFroscia agrees that people can make good money as dealers. 

“I have dealers that are making 70,000, 80,000 dollars a year in casinos,” says LaFroscia. 

Much like workers in the service industry, casino dealers rely heavily on tips to subsidise their hourly rate, so it doesn’t just come down to mental skill; personality is also a big factor. 

“As far as I’m concerned,” says LaFroscia, “I always let dealers know that in order to get tips, you have to give customers their money’s worth. If you keep them entertained, even when they’re losing money, they’ll feel the time at the table has been worth it.” 

Example costs of casino courses 

Blackjack – US$550 

Poker – US$1200-US$1400 

Roulette – US$950 

Dice – US$1800 

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