Thursday, 8 April 2010

Not eccentric, just an asshole

Just got in from my first night back and after getting over the initial weirdness of being back I'm sorry to report that it was actually a fairly boring night. Rumour has it the owner pissed off half our regulars some time last week, so it was deadly quiet and although a few of my favourite players were in, the only half interesting game I got was on blackjack.

I knew the guy was loaded before he even bought in, because he had the table minimum adjusted just for him and the inspector referred to him personally. I made a joke when he came to the table but he didn't respond so I figured we weren't going to hit it off. We didn't. He was picky as hell about his bets and I couldn't put a foot right. When they took me off as soon as they could and I felt nothing but relief.

Later I was talking to an inspector about it and commented that he must be an eccentric millionaire or something.
"He's not eccentric, he's just an asshole." As I was laughing he added, "He is a millionaire though."

Someone asked me recently if I think you can be rich and still be a good person. At first I wasn't sure, but the more I do this job the more certain I've become that you just can't. I don't just mean the nastiness: of course I've dealt to some very rich people who are respectful and kind. But I can't help thinking of all the real people in the world who are desperately in need, all those charities and causes. At the risk of sounding really self-righteous, I just don't know who can hold onto millions of pounds - and sit wasting it away in a casino - with a clear conscience... but I suppose even the most philanthropic millionaires have to enjoy themselves sometimes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Back to the wheels

So I've been on holiday for a week and have caught up on sleeping, eating and seeing friends, things which do not come easily to me when I'm working. Unfortuntely for me, tomorrow night is my first night back. I have a sick feeling in my stomach which I know won't go away until I step into that pit at 10pm.

Even after just two normal days off the first night back sucks, so this is going to be really bad... though to be fair, I don't know just how bad as this is the first holiday I've taken. As I'm still quite new to the business, I figure I'm apt to fall out of practice pretty quickly - the no-spins (where instead of flying smoothly round the rim of the wheel the roulette ball goes - well, anywhere else) are going to be spectacular...

I've done some pretty good ones in my time, though unlike my trainee pal I've yet to hit a manager.


Monday, 5 April 2010's about ignoring reality

In Croupier, Clive Owen plays Jack, a croupier/writer who is struggling to find an appropriate subject for a novel.

So far, so cliched.

While the film has a few good lines: "gambling is not about money, it's about ignoring reality", to tell the truth, the attempt at gritty reality is more likely an imaginative punter's wet dreams.

Of course films do not have to mirror life exactly, but one unexpected and unpleasant side-effect of becoming a dealer is being unable to watch any film featuring a casino without red-eyed, vein-popping frustration. The roulette scene in The Invention of Lying is appallingly inaccurate, 21 is riddled with errors and the lack of research is nothing but pure laziness. I'm well aware how geeky I sound, but why bother putting all that energy and time into making a film without getting a few facts together?

It's not little things, either. In the table test scene (the equivalent of an interview), Jack counts out £1700 when the casino owner asks for £1800, and then claims to be keeping the count in blackjack when very very few - if any - dealers would do this. Firstly, it's utterly pointless as you aren't playing, but then you have cards, bets, and table security to think about. There's no advantage to the casino in you having this ability so it certainly wouldn't expected or asked of you.

To dispel another myth: when Jack returns to the business he gets a manicure. Not only have I never heard of anyone in our place getting a manicure, most seem to actively keep their nails scruffy - me included - by biting them to the quick. Any length makes chip work tough and the table tops are so ingrained with dirt that after twenty minutes of dealing your nails are totally clogged with this black, greasy substance that I spend half my break times scrubbing off.

Anyway, enough of the glamour.

I do actually have a dirty little confession: casinos can be pretty soulless places when you work in them full time and being a dealer can be very hard, thankless work. When a brand new gambler comes to my table, full of Ocean's Eleven myths, it doesn't matter if you both know you're part of a game: it's one of the pleasures of dealing to be seen as just a little bit cool.

The Table Test From Croupier: