How to Become a Poker Dealer

  • Avatar for the CardsChat Editorial TeamWritten by  the CardsChat Editorial Team

If you’re a fan of poker and looking for a job, but aren’t necessarily cut out for a career as a poker pro, then a job as a poker dealer could be the ideal career option.

Aside from having the opportunity to travel the international tournament circuit and meet some of the top players in the world, proficient poker dealers can make a steady income regardless of how the cards fall.

If becoming a poker dealer appeals to you, check out our guide that covers everything from how to become a dealer, requirements and qualifications to employment prospects and perks.

Is Poker Dealing for You?

What Does a Poker Dealer Do?

A poker dealer is responsible for the distribution of cards and chips to players during a poker game. They maintain the flow of the game and ensure that the rules are followed.

Becoming a dealer is a great way to make a living from poker, but before you spend hours researching you’ll want to make sure that it’s the job for you.

As with any occupation, there are certain aspects of it that you should consider before going all-in. Some of those main considerations include:

1. You will need to know all the different poker games, not just Hold’em

2. You have to learn how to closely follow the betting and quickly read winning poker hands in order to stay in touch with the action

3. In a public-facing role like this, some good people skills are an advantage

4. A love of poker is a must, as sessions (known as ‘downs’) can be long

Being a poker dealer can be an extremely rewarding job, but to ensure you get the most out of the industry you’ll want to make sure that you have the right skill set.

From a practical perspective, there are very few formal qualifications you’ll need to become a poker dealer. But, not everyone is suited for the lifestyle it involves, so it’s important to recognize the abilities that will greatly help your development in this occupation.

Mental Arithmetic: The ability to calculate bets and pots is an essential skill.

Patience: A brilliant virtue at the poker table, especially with cautious or new players.

Sociability: Something that will greatly affect how much you enjoy working, as well as impacting how many tips you may receive.

Attention To Detail: Hand-reading skills and an ability to determine hand rankings quickly is also a must.

You don’t have to be a world-class poker player to be a world-class poker dealer; however, if you have some prior knowledge of the game you’ll find it a lot easier to learn the skills of the trade.

How Do You Become a Dealer?

The path towards a career as a poker dealer is a varied one and it’s no different when it comes to securing a job. If you were to talk to a selection of dealers at a casino, you would probably find a selection of various different routes they took to find their role.

The most popular way to become a poker dealer is to complete a 4-8 week training course and then apply for a vacant position at a land-based casino. If you already have some experience in the industry (as a player or dealing home games), then you can visit your local casino and start to learn on the job.

In both instances, you’ll need to pass a dealer audition. This could involve dealing a live game for 15-20 minutes as the poker room manager assesses you.

If you’re not quite ready to deal with the complexities of aspects such as split pots or pot-limit games, then some pre-job training is a must. An online search will bring up various training centers around the US, including The Casino Institute. This California-based institute is recognized by casinos across the US and offers formal qualification on completion of a 12-week course that costs around $2,600.

Casino Dealer License (Requirements & Qualifications)

There are a number of requirements to obtaining a dealer license (although this varies by state). It’s important to note that each casino may also have additional or individual standards.

Here are some general requirements to qualify for a dealer license:

  • You must be at least 21 years old (or 18, depending on the state in the USA)
  • You must have a high school diploma or GED
  • You must not have a criminal record
  • You are able to pass a pre-employment drug test
  • You are able to obtain a Gaming License (fingerprinting and background checks are required)
  • You are flexible with working hours (including nights, weekends and holidays)

Poker Dealer Job Descriptions

Job descriptions and requirements for dealer jobs will vary from one to another. However, the duties and job functions will often be very similar to one another.

Here are some examples of tasks you would expect to come across as a poker dealer:

  • Dealing cards to players and shuffling decks
  • Distribution of chips or credit to players
  • Ensure winning hands are announced to players
  • Verify pay-outs with accuracy
  • Verify starting and ending chip and cash balances
  • Monitoring of the game and maintaining fairness of the game
  • Ensure any suspicious or unusual activity is reported
  • Develop and promote positive public relations
  • Deliver quick service efficiently
  • Must appear presentable in appearance
  • Responsible for maintaining a clean and safe working environment
  • Ensure you are working in accordance with the Gaming Commission Regulations
  • Attend meetings and training when required

In addition to training, all poker dealers working in licensed US casinos need a gaming license. This license is issued by a government agency and is only given after various background checks have been completed.

In Las Vegas all casino employees, including poker dealers, must also have a Sheriff’s card and other states will require a similar state gaming license in order to work legally.

What Are My Employment Prospects?

Before you take the plunge and decide to become a poker dealer, it’s worth knowing what your employment prospects will be. It’s one thing being able to make a good salary, but are there jobs for you?

In the US, a well-qualified poker dealer will always be in demand and should be able to find work in a variety of casinos both as a tournament and cash game dealer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of registered dealers in the US is set to grow to around 68,900 by 2024. Additionally, over the next decade, the BLS estimates that around 19,000 job openings will be listed by casinos in the US in order to cover new positions and address replacement needs.

Poker dealers fall into two main categories: cash game dealers and tournament dealers. Although you can choose to do both, opportunities for cash game dealers are often more stable than tournament openings due to the fact cash games run consistently inside a casino. However, if you’re able to make a name for yourself on the tournament circuit with an organization such as the WSOP or EPT, you should be able to find regular work throughout the year.

The Extra Perks

On top of the salary there are a number of other benefits available if you decide to move into the business of dealing.

The Social Aspect

Working in a lively casino environment breeds a feeling of camaraderie between dealers, as well as being able to converse and socialize with the players at your table.

Lucrative Tips

Once you’re trained up, you’ll find the tips flow regularly. It’s not uncommon for dealers to earn double what they’re being paid per hour at a good cash game table.

Flexible Hours

As 24-hour places of business, casinos often require their staff to work odd hours. However, this allows you much more flexibility when it comes to needing time off.


Poker dealing is a skill that can be used at almost any casino, as long as you know a wide range of games, giving you the option to work around the world.

How Much Does a Poker Dealer Get Paid?

At most casinos in the US you will receive minimum wage payments for the duration of your shift.

According to a 2019 study, the average poker dealer salary in the US was $18,663, or $19,344 for a dealer working in Las Vegas.

This can obviously change year on year depending on many factors, from general economic growth to the popularity of land-based casinos. Experience also plays an important part as it can lead to salary increases.

In essence, poker dealers earn the bulk of their pay from tips and, like any service profession, the amount you’re tipped is largely dependent on your attitude, your skills and the customer.

It’s All About Your Tips

  • $1/$2 Games

Most dealers will look to deal around 30 hands per hour and earn an average of $1 per hand in tips, meaning it’s possible to earn an additional $30 per hour on top of your base pay. This figure is based on the fact that the average cash game player in a US casino will tip one small blind at low and mid stakes when the pot won is more than 10x the big blind.

  • Big Wins

If the pots are much larger or the stakes are higher, the tips will be adjusted accordingly. A high stakes player may tip $100 or more per hand. Additionally, if a player has earned a significant profit during their session (regardless of the stakes), they may also tip a proficient and friendly dealer when they leave the table.

In high stakes cash games this could easily be $500+ if the player has won $100,000+.

  • Tournaments

When it comes to tournaments, tips are handled in one of two ways: mandatory tips and personal tips. At low level local events it’s usually the case that players who make the most money (usually the winner) will give the tournament director a certain amount of money to be shared among the dealers. In contrast, at major events such as the WSOP, EPT and WPT, the organizers will withhold a certain amount from the prize pool for tips (usually between 2% and 5%) and these contributions are used to pay each dealer.

The Positives and Negatives of being a Poker Dealer

Poker dealers can earn in excess of $30 an hour, get to sit alongside some of the top players in the world, and have an intimate insight into the game.

But like with anything, there are certain things you need to watch out for so that they don’t hinder your dealing experience. That’s why it’s always important to consider all aspects of the job before taking the plunge.

The parts you’ll love…

  • A great way to enjoy poker without spending a penny
  • A steady way to earn a living
  • Meet some of the top poker players in the world
  • An effective way to improve your playing skills
  • Chances to travel the world

Things to watch out for…

  • Mastering the rules of so many poker variants can be tricky
  • Sorting out split pots takes a lot of focus
  • Players on tilt can be difficult to deal with
  • The hours can often be long and unsociable

What Makes a Good Poker Dealer? – Tips from a Pro Vegas Dealer

As you can see, the poker industry is about a lot more than the players; becoming a dealer can be a rewarding experience if you’re able to get the right training.

So, with this in mind, here’s a final flurry of tips from some Las Vegas pros:

  • Start in a small poker room to gain some valuable experience before you move to a more established venue.
  • You don’t always need training, but it helps.
  • Focus on accuracy first and speed second.
  • Develop a thick skin, as frustrated players may take their frustrations out on you.
  • Be friendly and personable at all times – it makes the game more pleasant and will help you earn more tips.
  • Don’t get fixated on high stakes games, people usually tip more in those with low-to-mid stakes.
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Poker Dealer FAQs

What does a poker dealer do?

A poker dealer is responsible for keeping gameplay moving, so an expert knowledge of the game coupled with excellent mathematical and interpersonal skills are a must. As a poker dealer you’ll be required to shuffle the deck, deal cards, turn over community cards, and collect folded hands as play progresses. On top of this, you’ll also need to keep track of the pot, announce bets and raises, quickly identify winning hands, and ensure the correct cut is retained for the house. It’s a complex role that puts you at the center of the action, so a cool head and ability to remain calm under pressure are essential attributes for anyone who wants to succeed as a poker dealer.

What are poker dealers called?

Throughout the United States the term dealer or poker dealer is used most commonly, but outside of the U.S, particularly in parts of Europe such as France and Britain, a dealer can be known as a croupier. Some U.S casinos have also adopted this term but it’s less common outside of Europe.

Do casino dealers make good money?

Base salaries for casino dealers are usually in the region of around $21,000 per year, but poker dealing is a service industry and so tips are common. This means that although your base salary is relatively low, the amount you make in tips can make a significant difference to your take home pay.

Players normally tip the dealer per hand during the game, so the more hands you can get through during your shift, the higher your earnings from tips is likely to be. It’s not uncommon for experienced dealers to make up to $30 per hour in tips alone, and that’s just in low stake games.

For hands where the stakes are much higher, some players have been known to tip $100-$500 per hand, so it’s easy to see why salaries of poker dealers can vary so dramatically from one month to the next.

Obviously tips are dependent on the level of service the player feels they have received, so a professional and courteous manner will go a long way to helping you secure more tips during your shift.

Do poker dealers make more in Vegas?

You’d think so, but no. The only way for a poker dealer to earn more is to get bigger tips. For this to occur you need to be dealing at a high stakes table and even then there’s no guarantees you’ll automatically be tipped well. It boils down to the attitude of the player, and how well you’ve impressed them. Remember, a more personable approach and professional conduct will help you on your way to better tips.

Do dealers keep their tips?

The tipping policy depends entirely on the casino you work at. Tipping a poker dealer is permitted in the U.S (it’s strictly forbidden in some parts of Europe) but some casinos will allow the dealer to keep their individual tips and some operate a pooling policy, whereby all tips are collected and then split equally between the dealers working that shift. The latter approach can be less favorable if you’ve earned good tips but some of your colleagues haven’t, as it will leave you worse off. If you’re dealing in a tournament, rather than a bricks and mortar casino, then tips are normally divided between the dealers in this instance as well.

How do I become a poker dealer?

There are two ways you can approach this. If you’re an experienced poker player who knows the game well, then you could try contacting some local casinos and enquiring about job opportunities as a dealer. They may bring you in for a live trial, which will involve you dealing in an actual game while the casino or pit manager watches you to see how you perform. If they’re sufficiently satisfied with your performance they may offer you a job. The other way in is through a poker dealing academy or school whereby you’ll gain recognized accreditation. This will definitely further your employment prospects as a poker dealer and is looked upon favorably by most casinos. For some it’s a pre-requisite of employment. There are various training schools that are endorsed by the industry, including the Casino Institute. All poker dealers are also required to have a gambling license by law.

What do poker dealers wear?

Typically a poker dealer will be required to wear a shirt, trousers, waistcoat, and have an overall smart appearance. The casino you are employed by will determine what you wear, and in the most instances provide you with a full uniform, though you may have to pay a deposit initially for these items.

Why do they wear visors?

This is to lessen eyestrain from harsh overhead lighting, as being a poker dealer requires intensive concentration and attention to detail.

Why do they tap the table?

This is a non-verbal signal that can be detected by the casino cameras looking on that can see the action but not hear it. The timing of the knock and the number of taps will have a bearing on what the dealer is communicating.

How does it compare with other casino dealer jobs?

It’s pretty much the same, though poker, like blackjack can have long hands so you can be sitting for large periods of time. That’s also where having a passion for the game you’re dealing is a benefit.

How long does it take to become a casino dealer?

The job of poker dealer is a skilled one, and not one that can be immediately walked into. Instead, the best casinos will expect potential dealers to have completed their training. Most prospective dealers will complete a course that runs for up to two months, which the jobseeker has to pay for out of their own pocket.

After the two-month course, it can then often take months to find a vacant job as a dealer. Of course, this can be quicker when looking for a job in cities with many casinos though, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Once an applicant is accepted for a position, they’ll then receive further poker dealer training from their new employer. So, overall, it can take up to six months for some to land their dream job.