Interview: Life As A Live Casino Dealer
Life as a live casino dealer is never dull!
Live casino has become one of the most popular games available at UK-licensed online casinos, combining the convenience of online play with the thrill and excitement of playing in a land-based casino and the interaction that can be enjoyed with the dealer and other players.
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Malta-based Authentic Gaming is one of the most innovative live casino providers in the market and not only streams from its state-of-the-art Live Arena studio but also from the floors of prestigious land-based casinos located around the world.
The provider has also built a team of professional and passionate dealers that play a huge part in bringing the experience to life for players accessing its live casino games.
To learn more about what it is like to be a live casino dealer we sat down with Tessa-May Attrill, live dealer and team leader at Authentic Gaming.
Find My UK Casino (FMUC): So, what does a live casino dealer actually do?
Tessa-May Attrill (TA): A live dealer commands and guides the game in front of a camera which is then broadcast to online casinos and their players. Essentially, we are the point of contact between the player and the game, be it roulette, blackjack, poker, etc.
We announce when the betting time is open and when players should think about finalising their bets. We also deal cards, spin the ball – which is not as easy as it looks – and any other action required to run the game.
There is a real technique in learning how to spin a roulette ball in a way that makes it look effortless and powerful all at once. Then there is the most important part of the game round, announcing the winning number.
A dealer must learn what that number means to a winning player, explaining all the facts of that number and where it’s situated on the wheel and table. This all needs to be done with passion and flair. You have to work the cameras and present with style.
FMUC: How long do you deal for and what shifts do you work?
TA: We are at work for eight and a half hours. A shift is eight hours long, but we also have to allow 30 minutes to get ready (makeup, hair, costume and at least one cup of coffee!). We have just the one roulette table in our studio, so we have two dealers that work a shift and split the live sessions.
We do 30 minutes live on the table, then 30 minutes off and repeat that for eight hours. Most live casino providers operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means that all dealers work shifts. We have three different types of shifts to cover a full working day – morning, afternoon and night.
Our morning shifts start at 8:00am on the table, getting ready from 7:30am. Afternoon shifts start at 4:00pm so we would start getting ready from 3:30pm. Night shifts are from midnight, so of course we are there from 11:30pm to do our makeup and get ready.
FMUC: That sounds like hard work. What made you want to become a live dealer?
TA: In all honesty, it was never something I planned to do. I started my working life as a singer/dancer and had just finished a contract with an entertainment company here in Malta.
After an eventful first year in the entertainment business I decided I wanted a short break to try something different. I’d always had my mind focused on becoming a performer and had never even considered a career in a different industry. I was curious to see what I could find.
I applied to become a live dealer because I knew it would still have an element of what I loved doing – entertaining people. After a lengthy application process I succeeded in joining Authentic Gaming.
After six months working as a dealer I applied for a promotion to be team leader as I wanted to test my management skills. I got the job and couldn’t be happier in the role of team leader for the most wonderful and diverse group of individuals who love roulette and dealing just as much as myself.
FMUC: What skills does a live dealer need and what qualifications and training do you undertake?
TA: You are trained in the basics to begin with. As this was my first experience in online casino dealing, I had to be taught everything. The first element is to focus on how to spin the ball; which as I mentioned before is not as easy as it looks.
There is a real technique that you have to master before you can say ‘Yes, I’ve got this’. Practice really does make perfect. I spent hours upon hours trying to make my spin impeccable but now I am really proud of it.
The learning doesn’t stop there, of course. There is so much knowledge to gather for payouts, types of bets, columns, dozens, sections of the wheel as well as the technical aspects of working in a studio filled with top of the range equipment.
As mentioned before, performance and presentation are vital parts of the learning process, too. You have to have a certain manner; proper and strict but still make the game enjoyable and entertaining. I spent ten days training before I went ‘live’ and it didn’t feel like enough.
But it’s like learning to ride a bike, once you nail it, you’re able to cycle for hours and the same goes for working as a live dealer.
FMUC: Can you talk us through a typical day for a live dealer?
TA: A typical day is relatively straight forward. You arrive at the studio and go to your break room where there is a vanity mirror and desk to sit at and do your makeup and get dressed.
Five minutes before your first live session on the table, you walk up to the Live Arena and get yourself a microphone pack and a headset, making sure you have put fully charged batteries in there. You don’t want your microphone cutting out mid-session.
You then walk down the small corridor that leads to the table and wait there until the current dealer on shift welcomes you on stage to present with what we call a ‘dealer change’.
Once introduced, you walk up to the platformed stage and say your welcomes to the players. Then you spend the next thirty minutes presenting and guiding the game, entertaining the players and congratulating the winners.
After your thirty minutes are up, you introduce your second presenter to the table and then you leave. You repeat this for eight hours.
During your time off the table, your duties are to keep in contact with the dealer on the table via the company phone, which is linked to a Skype chat that you have access to whilst you are on the table from a tablet.
Other duties are to watch the stream from the studio which is broadcast on a TV in the break room. You must also fill in the daily reporting sheets with information on the shift (who is working, were there any technical difficulties, any dealer mistakes, etc).
In addition, you must maintain your appearance, re-apply makeup if and when needed, reply to company emails and use the video library to assess your performance from the past few days. Your duty doesn’t stop when you step off the table.
FMUC: How difficult is it to achieve the right live dealer look? How do you do this?
TA: I always start with a coffee as this helps to wake me up, then I do my makeup and hair. This is one of my favourite parts of the day, getting to take my time and really make myself feel and look elegant and classy.
The trick is not wearing too much makeup, as the camera picks up detail really easily, but to not wear too little, either. Your hair must be styled in a way that won’t hide your face but still looks like you are ready for a red carpet. Everything must be perfect.
Lastly, I change into my dress. All the girls have individual dresses picked out with them in mind. They have two ‘day dresses’ each, with the addition of a gala/ball gown dress and any other dresses which the company buys for certain promotional events.
I like to wear heels on the table as it really completes the feel of the overall aesthetic – although it’s not a compulsory rule for all the ladies. Once fully made-up and dressed, I put on my microphone and I’m ready to go live.
FMUC: What is the set-up behind the camera? What controls do you have at your disposal?
TA: The table itself is pretty impressive, but what you can see in front of you as you deal is really cool too. We have a set of monitors in front of us which are attached to a custom-made frame so that they can be moved around to where they are needed.
On these monitors you have the live stream of yourself from two different camera views, the Skype chat between yourself, the dealer on break, your managers and the surveillance team. On another monitor you have something called a Dealer User Interface – this is your guide to the game.
It shows you the countdown on when to spin, when bets are closed, the confirmation of the winning number, the speed of the plate, the number of revolutions your spin makes, hot and cold numbers and so on.
In addition to the monitors, you also have the cameras and you can see they are live from the red indicator light placed on top. Beyond the monitors and cameras, you can see the rest of the studio and the automatic wheels we also offer.
Around the studio are multiple wires, lights and gadgets which our head of tech, George, is always monitoring and managing to ensure our live games run smoothly.
FMUC: Being a live dealer sounds like incredible fun. What is the best part of your job?
TA: The best part of my job is that I get to learn new things every day. Because we are a small team, my job is not just being a live dealer. I am a team leader, so my responsibilities are significantly increased compared to what they were when I started.
But this means I’ve learnt things about lights and cameras that I wouldn’t have even considered before. I’ve also learnt to love roulette and appreciate its beauty as a very visual game.
In addition to this, I’ve learnt how to manage a team of people and most importantly look after them. Lastly, I love performing for the players; knowing that my style of dealing is popular amongst them and feeling that I’m doing a good job is a reward in itself.
FMUC: What do you do to keep your personal life separate from players?
TA: We all have ‘dealer names’; this means that we never use our real names on the table. With it becoming increasingly easy to find someone by a first name and location on Facebook, everyone has to make sure they have a dealer name completely different to their real name.
We have also recently just launched an Authentic Gaming Instagram account, which means that it’s even easier for players to find us on social media. Having a dealer name means that we can keep our personal lives separate from our dealer lives and stay safe in the process.
FMUC: What three tips would you give to someone that wants to become a live dealer?
TA: Number one: make sure you do your research, know exactly what the job entails and make sure you are going to stay interested in it. After all, I won’t lie to you, this job isn’t for everyone. Be sure you know the world you are stepping in to.
Number two: practice makes perfect. When you are first learning how to be a live dealer it can seem a little overwhelming and the only way to overcome this is to practice your trade and then practice some more. If you do, you will quickly get the hang of it.
Number three: self-belief and self-confidence. A confident dealer is a good dealer. Glow with pride and show players you are the one that’s commanding the game. Welcome them, of course, but let them know that this is your table.