Not too long ago, casino craps was very much branded as a “boys’ game. ” The players were male and so were the casino craps dealers. That male exclusivity has changed, and I was part of that change when, in 1995, I moved to Las vegas from 777 slot online my hometown of Mt. Pleasant, MI. Before moving across the country, I had been a blackjack dealer at the Soaring Eagle before deciding to raise the stakes and go see the elephant, so to speak.
During my first weeks in Sin city, I perused many casinos and I saw that no women were dealing the craps games. This instantly added to my curiosity about craps, which i had played a few times and was still scratching my head over what had happened. I gathered that dealing craps was for men only, which only made the idea of being a craps dealer enticing.
I soon decided that i wanted to enter the boys’ club, and I was off to dealer school and signed up for a craps course. I studied hard and went to practice every evening and three weeks later was set up for my first job audition at the infamous El Cortez in downtown Las vegas.
El Cortez was considered the best place to break into craps because it had three low limit dice tables, starting at a quarter, as in $0. 25, on the line with two bits odds. Needless to say, this was a busy place with layouts stuffed with bets and a proposition box that teemed like a Manhattan street at lunch time. This was the notorious El Cortez “bird game” that was supposed to teach you how to deal the bigger games at nicer places where players bet in $25 units.
I was so nervous for my audition. To get a dealer job you have to audition on a live game. Lots of gaming companies have screening and interviewing processes for job applicants — some don’t, but it all boils down to getting on a game and showing the pit boss you can deal. It’s the only way to truly judge if the person can work a game.
The July evening I went for my audition it was 112 degrees out and I was dressed in the appropriate long-sleeved white dress shirt and black slacks. On a side note, I’d trade a Las vegas summer for a Michigan winter any day. I felt like I would turn to ashes in the heat as my nerves stoked my furnace of anxiety, but I really needed the job. I was so broke that putting money in the parking meter was even a hardship and I went in to my audition.
The game was busy and I was told to go in on stick. Everyone was looking at me, pit staff and players alike. Then the players began to exclaim about the aberration of a women dealing the game. People called me bad luck and jeered as i started to move the dice with the awful awkward shaking slowness that every wannabe craps dealer exhibits the first time on a live game. A couple players took down their bets. I would later learn that players often stop betting when a dealer, man or woman, is auditioning. Bad luck you know. But that was fine. I focused on dealing, doing what I was taught. I moved the dice with a painful lack of style, navigating the pass line bets and don’t pass bets and crossing a crowd of field bets thick as cow pies in an overused pasture.
I got the job and started the next day. My pit boss, Tony, had a private conversation with me about being the only woman in the pit and he didn’t want any problems. Apparently this meant I was a problem, but I told him there wouldn’t be any problems.
I proceeded over the next few months to learn to be a competent dealer. As a woman, there was a lot of pressure to prove myself capable. Although most of my fellow dealers were nice, some even becoming my friends, there was an underlying animosity toward my presence from the pit boss and boxmen. I was supposed to fail. So i paid attention on game and, at all times, I tried to be a better dealer than everyone else. After all, dealing craps is not some kind of lumberjack chainsaw juggling contest. Men and women can do it equally well.
The reaction among the other dealers and bosses to my presence was mixed. Most of the dealers were positive although they collectively asked me if i was married. They were disappointed when i said that i lived with my boyfriend. Overall, my fellow dealers were enthusiastic about my addition to the staff because it meant they could take days off.
One boxman in particular, Jim, was very old school and hostile to my presence. Jim called me a “skirt” so i called him “old. ” Casinos are very law of the jungle places and biting back when you get bit brings you respect. Jim sweetened up after that presumably because he didn’t like having mean things said to him. And having a 23-year-old woman call you old is unpleasant for any man.
Eventually, Jim turned out to be very protective of me. Unfortunately, his old school style often meant that he would kick a player out of the casino for being too flirtatious with me. Still it was sweet, and I got over his initial discrimination mostly because he was a spear-waving demon to the male dealers. I had had it relatively easy.