Meeting the Casino's Cast of Characters
A vast and sometimes complicated hierarchy of employees with a variety of titles, responsibilities, and even different styles of dress populates a casino. These workers simultaneously cater to the needs of the guests and the casino owners. No matter who they are, the casino employees all have one goal in common: to provide you with ample opportunities to try your luck against the unevenly-stacked house odds.
Casino employees are usually pleasant, professional, and well-trained individuals (after all, if you're treated with courtesy and respect, you're more likely to stay — and spend — longer).
In the pits: Serving the table players
As you explore the responsibilities of the various casino personnel, it helps to split the casino into two parts:
- The area where slot machines appear in endless rows.
- The area where you play table games, such as blackjack, craps, or roulette.
The casino arranges the tables in pits, similar to wagon trains encircled to protect against an attack. Each pit is designed to be an autonomous, fully functioning business, equipped with a variety of table games and a small community of casino personnel that is always willing to usher your dollar bills into the casino coffers.
Pit bosses are smartly attired, experienced professionals who are responsible for all the gaming operations in their assigned pits. As the name implies, pit bosses supervise floorpersons, dealers, and the gamers within their pit. Theirs is a very detail-oriented job, requiring not only intimate knowledge of all aspects of the games but also the ability to keep track of thousands of dollars flowing through their spheres of influence. In the event of a serious dispute, the pit boss is the one who steps in to settle matters.
Among other tasks, pit bosses monitor credit markers, or the amount of credit extended to you, and they dispense comps, such as free meals or shows, doled out according to an elaborate formula based on the number of hours you play and the amount of money you wager.
Winning or losing vast sums of money often ignites supercharged emotions. Another responsibility of the pit boss is to make sure those emotions don't explode into conflict. The pit boss is there to congratulate as well as to calm, to soothe as well as to strong-arm. The pit boss's job is part security staff, part supervisor, part gambling expert, and part public relations manager.
Reporting to each pit boss are several other suits known as floorpersons. The main difference from pit bosses is that floorpersons are in charge of only a couple of tables in the pit and report directly to the pit boss. They dress and act like the pit boss, and you typically can't distinguish between the two without asking. Both of them make sure that proper casino procedure is followed.
Dealers have their fingers on the pulse of the casino — figuratively and literally. Theirs is a high-pressure job with a demanding audience. Overseeing several players at a table, dealers must be confident in their gambling knowledge. They must know who wins, who loses, and how much to pay out on each hand. Many gamers mistakenly believe that dealers simply shuffle and deal cards, but dealers must also handle dice, chips, and money — accurately and quickly.
Dealers have a wide range of personalities. Some are polite and ebullient, others efficient and brusque. Although finding a compatible dealer doesn't change the cards or the size of your winnings, it can make your gaming experience more enjoyable. When you find one you like, sit down, but remember the dealer has no control over the outcome. Most dealers prefer that you win because they make their money primarily from tips.
Slot employees: The reel dealers
The average American casino makes nearly two-thirds of its profits from its various slot machines. Therefore, casinos are diligent when it comes to maintaining and stocking them for long-term play.
The person you're most likely to deal with if you have a problem or question about your machine is a slot attendant. Slot machine attendants are on constant vigil, ever watchful for the next jackpot or flashing light requesting service. They're usually wearing a uniform and sometimes push carts with oodles of money so they can give change to bettors in need. The attendants are the perfect people to ask if you're not sure how to play a particular machine; they know every bell, cherry, and bar like the back of their hand.
The slot supervisor rules the realm of the slot machines, managing employees and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the machines. The slot supervisor generally has several slot attendants as direct reports. For casual gamblers, slot supervisors normally play a part in your life only if you hit a jackpot that can't be paid out in coins.
Management: Running the tables
A host of other casino personnel contribute to the success of the house.
Modern casino hosts best resemble a successful hotel concierge: They're at your service. A typical casino host is an affable and professional employee whose mission is to serve your every need. Hosts are hands-on people who greet VIP guests at the door and pamper them throughout their stay. Depending on the size and popularity of the casino and the thickness of your wallet, a casino host may
- Comp your rooms
- Arrange for greens fees at the golf course
- Get tickets to sold-out shows
- Give away free meals
If it's your first time in a casino, don't expect to have the keys to the Rain Man suite at Caesar's Palace handed to you. But even low rollers can make a relationship with the casino host profitable:
- Join the club: The casino host expects you to be a casino loyalty club member before you're offered many comps.
- Express yourself: Don't wait for the host to find you in the penny slots area; go introduce yourself to the host.
- Be loyal: Find your favorite gambling locale and stick to it. Even small-scale visits can make you a valuable customer if they're repeated regularly.
- Just ask: The players who get comps are the ones who ask the casino host. Don't be rude or demanding, just ask politely and see what benefits you qualify for.
As in other walks of life, every casino employee has to report to somebody, and those somebodies are the shift managers, who are responsible for their areas of casino expertise (such as slots or table games) during a particular shift. The only position above the shift manager is the casino manager. The only time you may ever interact with the manager is if you win enough money to buy the casino.