THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Remedial School of Blackjack Dealing

As I said in my last blog, I'm going to add more personal information from my adventurous background, especially writing about mobsters and working in casinos.

Here's how I got into blackjack dealing. Well, it was 1996. The owners of the TV station where I worked as manager in Santa Fe, New Mexico sold the station to the local Fox affiliate. Abruptly, we were all out of work as Fox already had its own employees.

New Mexico is beautiful, but it's like a Third World country when it comes to wages. There were no other media jobs available so I looked for something else that paid fairly well.

Now Indian casinos were springing up like tumbleweeds around Albuquerque where I lived and I'd heard through the grapevine that casino dealers received great tips. I decided to investigate. I interviewed every dealer who would give me the time of day. They all said that dealing was where the money is in this town.

Next step: I decided to enroll in A.C.E.S. Casino Dealers School owned by Larry Smith. From the minute I stepped inside the school, I knew I was out of my element. Don't get me wrong. I'd done so many different things in life that I lost count. And I sure was no kid. But this was different. I was intimidated and even a little scared since I hardly knew how to hold a deck of cards.

Well, I signed the contract (can't remember how much) and plunged in, determined to become a blackjack dealer or bust. I was so lousy, I swear they put me in the "remedial school" of blackjack dealing!

Dealing any of the casino games is strictly procedure. You learn a standard method of doing everything from how you shuffle the cards to how you pitch the cards to how you cut chips (take chips from your tray and pay out), etc. Eighty percent of those procedures are the same no matter where you deal and twenty percent change from casino to casino. The reason it's this way is to protect the house. So when a supervisor or the eye-in-the- sky looks at a dealer, they can tell exactly what's going funny business.

This one day several weeks into the class, a very goodlooking guy came to watch our class. When my turn to deal came up he watched my fumblings with a little smirk. Finally he fixed his baby blues on me, leaned over and in a loud whisper said, "Honey, just relax and pretend you're making love." Instantly the cards went flying all over the floor and everyone roared with laughter. It just made me more determined to get this dealing thing right.

Next time I'll tell you about my first hilarious audition! You won't believe what I did.

Yours truly,


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