March 12, 2014

Diana Rowland Discusses Dealing

Diana Rowland is the author of the White Trash Zombie series, including My Life as a White Trash Zombie, Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues, and White Trash Zombie Apocalypse.

Where, when, and for how long did you work as a blackjack dealer?
I worked at the Copa Casino in Gulfport, MS for about five years. I started out dealing blackjack and roulette, and later learned craps (though I never dealt that game enough to get very good at it.) After about a year and a half I was promoted to what was called a “dual rate” which meant I could be scheduled as either dealer or a pit manager (pit boss), and after another year or so, I moved up to full time pit boss. About a year before I left the casino industry I switched from graveyard shift (2am to 10am) to swing shift (6pm to 2am) and had to go back to being dual rate, but by that time I was already looking for a way out of the casino industry.
Were you specifically trained in how to interact (or not interact) with customers?
Generally speaking, yes. Most dealers go to a gaming school to learn how to deal the games, and part of that process includes some of how to deal with customers, what to do with belligerent or unruly players, and hints and tricks for how to get good tips (since the majority of a dealer’s income comes from tips.) Also, whenever a new dealer is hired on at a casino, the more experienced dealers will give advice of that nature as well, since in most casinos the tips are pooled. In other words, it made sense for *everyone* to earn as many tips as possible!
What did you enjoy most about the job?
I enjoyed seeing a wide cross section of humanity. Most people tend to be fairly sheltered, and seldom have to interact with people outside of their own social strata or culture. I was certainly quite sheltered in that respect, and the entire experience in the casino was very eye opening in many ways. I also enjoyed the whole subculture of being a night shift worker, living a parallel but separate life from most of humanity. But most of all I really liked being >good< at what I was doing—fast and accurate. Oh, and the money and benefits rocked as well. ;-)
What was your most irritating experience on the job?
My most irritating experience was the superstitions. It blew me away when my bosses would throw salt under tables where someone was winning big, or drop pennies, or change out dealers because so-and-so was “running hot.”

Why did you stop dealing?
I stopped because I grew oh so very tired of watching people destroy their lives. There are many people who can go and enjoy an evening at a casino and control themselves and their spending, but there are FAR more who truly cannot stop, even when they’re winning. It’s an addiction, and I lost count of the number of people who would come and cash their paychecks and then lose >every penny<. The bleak expression of someone who’s staring at the table as they realize they’ve lost the money to pay the rent, buy food, care for their children, is one that I’ll never forget. After a few hundred of those I decided that I needed to get into a business that I could be proud of, one where I wasn’t a legal drug dealer, and one where I could look at myself in the mirror in the morning. Basically, I decided to salvage what little soul I had left.

And that is why I took a 60% pay cut and became a cop. :-)

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