A little back story
It is a bit of stretch from where Ace and I started to where we are now. We started with a passion for traveling together and purchasing a travel trailer so that we could be on the road full time. We had the dream, but weren't able to follow through as well as we wanted. We tried work camping, Amazon Fulfillment, and working in Yellowstone National Park (which was amazing). In the end though, none of these jobs paid us enough to sustain our full-time RVing lifestyle.
Ace had the idea of taking the trailer to Las Vegas and giving table games dealing a try. We both enjoyed the gaming industry and turns out we were pretty good at it. Then.....the entire world shut down for a bit. The trailer become even smaller and we decided to move into an apartment and figure out what our next steps were going to be. We had jobs we enjoyed, but they were starting to ge a little monotonous.
How did we find out about travel poker dealing?
We actually kind of stumbled across travel poker dealing while researching different jobs within the gaming industry. Ace and I were looking for traveling opportunites and temporary job placement in table games because we wanting something that would allow us to travel, but also work together. While job searching, we found several openings for "Temporary Poker Dealers." Digging a little further, we found out that casinos around the US that host different poker series, will hire temporary dealers for their big tournaments.
How or Where did we get training for being a poker dealer?
There are several ways to learn how to deal poker. There are online classes available, learning from a mentor, taking classes from a poker room or casino, or going to a dealer school. Ace and I went to West Coast Dealing School in Las Vegas, which was the best fit for us at the time. We were able to attend the classes while still dealing table games full-time.
WCDS has a very comprehensive lesson plan that teaches over 30+ poker games in both tournament and cash formats. You learn at your own pace and they have all the equipment in the school so that you are familiar with all aspects of being a poker dealer. The "cherry on top" for Ace and I was that WCDS allows there ulumni to come back if they ever need refreshers or to practice. While attending, alumni would return and help the new dealers, even creating a tournament or cash game for real experience.
What was my first experience dealing poker?
My very first experience dealing poker was at the 2021 World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas. I got my poker dealing certificate from WCDS and a month later the owner, Chris Tidmarsh, set up auditions with the WSOP recruiters.
The WSOP is where I got my start. Keep in mind, I've only been dealing poker for about 6 months. During the WSOP I dealt THOUSANDS of hands of poker and met a lot of interesting people. Talking to dealers and supervisors helped Ace and I make the connections we needed to start traveling poker dealing careers.
PROs/CONs of being a traveling poker dealers
Traveling: Ace and I get to do what we love. I get to work and spend more time with my best friend.
Change of Pace: We are not stuck in the same place all the time. Our workplace and "home" changes monthly. Monotony does not get a chance to sink in.
FREEDOM of Choice: Tournaments usually on last a couple of weeks. Once you are established with a series, you can pick and choose which events you would like to work. Essentially you can work as little or as much as you want.
Logistics: Traveling poker dealers cover their own expenses. Most of the time, you have to arrange for your own transportation, housing, and food. You also have to make sure that you have an up-to-date gaming license for every event your dealing.
Long Hours: Although you can pick the events you would like to work, you will be working long hours. Most shifts will be over 8 hours with breaks sprinkled in and you are generally working everyday in that 2 week event.
Creature Comforts: You can start to miss the creature comforts of home when you are hotel hopping for several months in a row. Not having a kitchen or a coffee maker can start to be expensive too.
Let's talk about 💸
How much do traveling poker dealers make?
Let's go over how the pay is calculated.
First: You have a base rate hourly pay that is usually the minimum wage of the state you're working in.
Second: You have what is called a down rate. A "Down" is every 30 minutes you are actively dealing at a tournament table. Down rates are calculated depending on type of tournaments, how many players or entrants are in the tournament, how long it takes to complete the tournament, how many dealers were in the tournament, and how much money was tipped by the players. (This number is usually published to the dealers after a tournament is completed or every 24hrs of the event)
Range of pay
Hourly pay is $10 with a down rate of $20 (this is the average I have experienced since dealing)
That would give you a combined hourly rate of $50 per hour (if you're dealing for the entire hour)
So.......there it is. As a traveling poker dealer, your pay can range from minimum wage to upwards of $50 per hour.