According to nationalcareerservices.co.uk a croupier makes between 14K and 25K sterling per annum. A decent wage for a career with opportunities for upward growth, and that’s not even factoring these fortunate ‘right place right time’ moments in a croupier’s life when some wealthy patron, perhaps a Texas oil baron with a bullhorn belt buckle and a gut full of cow pie, decides you’re responsible for his sudden good luck turn and voices his appreciation in cash.
Poker is doubtlessly on the up, even if the glory days when silly money flowed like Buckfast along the Spanish Arch are years behind us. With a wealth of untapped opportunity for future generations to carve their niche, a career in poker is now, more than ever, a feasible and legitimate path.
Keeping the format from our How to Become a Twitch Streamer article, I’ll be breaking the career path down into sections; first talking about the training required to excel, then briefly speaking on which requirements make an outstanding croupier, and we’ll finish up by mentioning the great game’s most famous table boss.
Goals aren’t just for Trello boards, football managers and depressed people on New Year’s Eve. Everyone should create goals, whether it’s a career milestone, finishing a short story, creating a flash game, completing a photography course or getting in shape for a mini-marathon – both for your own sanity and those around you. After all, the devil prefers his hands idle. If you don’t believe me, believe doctors who say accomplishing short-term goals is great for mental health, giving a sense of accomplishment and restoring can-do spirit.
In context this heading seems less relevant than the one below, which details the checkboxes you’ll need to tick moving towards your career goal, but in another sense it’s even more relevant. If you’re like me, your brain will occasionally attempt to convince you things cannot be done, that new skills aren’t easy to pick up so you shouldn’t bother trying, which is of course nonsense. Tell that pulsing thoughtfootball that contains you, everyone else and universe inside it, who’s in charge; it’s time to make dreams reality, if it’s possible to say that without sounding like a jet-addicted Televangelist.
It’s all ticks and boxes. Gone are the days of cooly entering, walking right up to the foreman and demanding an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Confined to history are labourers whose calloused hands acted as a curriculum vitae. Many modern occupations have rigorous training procedures in place to weed out the chaff; intricate interview processes across departments, committee meetings and aptitude tests. Croupiers are no different. You’ll have to prove you have the strong personality and requisite charm along the interview process, even before game knowledge and skills are tested.
Becoming a croupier strikes me more as a vocation than a summer job, so keeping in mind other interview candidates will likely have run the full gauntlet of casino training, having sent away for the full DVD run of Phil Hellmuth’s Casino Paradise volumes I – XV, it’s best to master as many as you can.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Patience – In this game you almost need more than patience, beyond even what monks and stoics attained. Anywhere large amounts move freely tensions are high but nowhere is that energy more palpable than the poker felt. Brunson himself said it best, poker’s just war with cards instead of guns.
From the good days counting handsome tips right through to bad evenings spent in the company of boorish stag parties, you must learn to maintain the same standards of professionalism and decorum. While the poet has lost some shine in recent years with a global revaluation of colonialism and untapped jingoism, Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘IF’ comes to mind; if you can keep your cool no matter the situation, when everyone else has lost their marbles and sense seems bound for elsewhere; if you can stay frosty you’re more than halfway to becoming the croupier Gotham deserves.
High-stess tolerance – If you melt when the mustard get spicy this mightn’t be the career for you. On the stress scale, it’s somewhere between working in an electronics store on Black Friday and escort quests in Resident Evil games. With the size of the raises and stacks matched only by the size of the egos sometimes involved, it’s no surprise that chaos occasionally spikes and, as a trained croupier, you have to ride that wave, good times and bad.
Customer service skills – It’s one of the cooler CS jobs and sometimes you get a fancy jacket but ultimately it’s still a CS job. Don’t be resistant to assistance, have a help-based mindset and learn to love the feeling of delighting your customers, and often they’ll return in kind. Even the frostiest heart melts with a kind word or an extra step that shows you’re fully tuned in to their needs.
Quick maths – Supersonic at sums? This one’s a must. If your friends figure you for a human calculator and you love playing cards, you may have inadvertently stumbled upon your dream career. Beware, this will be tested in the interview. Dust off the old Action Maths textbook, stick the phone on flight mode and brush up on your multiplication times tables, the writer says as he lapses back into childhood neurosis about getting sums wrong in front of everyone I know and then realizing I have no pants.
Manual dexterity – Along with maths, this is another tick they’re definitely going to check before giving the all clear. You might slip through without prior CS experience or hide the fact you have a low-stress tolerance by pushing all your feelings deep down until you can feel the anger in your toes, but you won’t get past the interview process without fanning and shuffling a few decks. If the only trick you know is 52 pickup, it’s time to close the door on your croupier dreams.
Game knowledge – All croupiers, at least from a Vegas casino perspective, are required to be able to control the following games: blackjack, baccarat, roulette and poker.
Now some of these are intangibles, you either have them or you don’t, but that doesn’t mean you should dissuade yourself overmuch if you don’t fully satisfy the conditions. If you’re great at maths, calm in the storm’s eye and have more tolerance for stress than an officer’s horse during the Great War, but think your CS skills are lacking, or you have immense passion and knowledge of casino games but are afraid, despite trying, that your most concentrated efforts aren’t thorough enough, you should still go for gold. If there’s a chance to interview for a role you’ve always dreamed of, jump at the chance and if you fail, ask the interviewer to provide feedback on what positive changes you can make going forward, or what he/she expected to see that was missing from your CV.
Although we have more raining days than training days here in the emerald isle, we’re a nation of poker players. An island of chancers willing to risk anything for glory, even if that means relying on the national gift of the gab and faking it until you make it.
Select colleges and non-collegiate third-level educational institutions now offer croupier training courses, formally dubbed Casino Operations Training, which when put it in an historical context is a milestone achievement for the legitimization of poker in the mainstream. Besides courses, there’s a host of private lessons available on social media, poker forums and classifieds sections worldwide, which could serve you even better than attending an official course, giving you that one-on-one apprentice-master attention.
Casinos may also offer an in-house training program. However, sometimes it serves better to get a ‘general qualification’ than to be trained exclusively into one companies way of operating. Prospective employers often prefer candidates without fully relevant experience over a candidate highly-experienced in the idiosyncrasies of another operation.
Croupier Hall of Heroes
Despite exhaustive google searching it seems there’s no comprehensive list of the world’s most beloved or infamous croupier so let’s just run with one most people are already familiar with, or better yet, use the above advice to become the croupier people want write about 🙂
Here’s a clue, he’s yellow and red and isn’t a crashed submarine.
Homer Simpson, the inimitable good luck charm and stalwart of the once-glorious Monty Burn’s Casino Empire, from whence Gamblor came and the typically-ordered mind of Springfield’s own town mother Marge Simpson fell prey to his wiles and charms.
While the dream of Springfield casinos lasted only the length of an episode, there’s so many memorable moments peppered throughout, from Goulet’s treehouse experience to Homer’s unlikely encounter with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise reprising their respective Rain Man roles.
That’s about all we’ve time for this week. Let’s take the Spruce Moose home.
Until the next one,
Mike at GGPoker