Most World Series of Poker dealers are full-time cardroom employees, many of whom have been plucked from casinos throughout the world to fill the WSOP’s ranks, but some are seasonal help that use the poker festival as a chance to experience the annual event in a way that’s much less risky to their bottom line.
“It gives me two months to be immersed in poker without having the stress of playing,” said Christopher Kingman, a Tucson resident who’s spending his fourth summer in the past five years dealing at the WSOP. “I love poker, which is why I like to go. It also really is like a summer camp for adults.”
Kingman, 29, is a recreational player who works as a cab driver. He admits the game has passed him by in terms of his playing skill, but when it comes to dealing bad beats and nut flushes, Kingman said he’s at the top of his game.
The WSOP looks for dealers with six months’ experience working in a poker room or completion of a dealer-school course. Kingman had both, spending time in the past as a dealer in a small room in Washington and later graduating from the ABC Casino College in Phoenix. The idea to apply for a gig in Vegas came on a whim in 2009 when he saw an online advertisement.
“After a month or so, I had forgotten about the application but got a call from Caesars to come audition,” Kingman said. “I passed the audition and once you finish your first year, you have a job for life with them if you so desire.”
Dealers split their time between cash games, satellites and tournaments during eight-hour shifts and Kingman said each has merits. Kingman prefers to work satellites, which is where he says his personable nature and dedication to customer service shine brightest.
“Satellites will always be my favorite,” he said. “I’m a people person, so watching a tournament where I’m the only dealer from start to finish is exciting for me. Also, sats (are) where I make the most money because I’m probably one of the best when it comes to customer service. The first thing I do when dealing sats is to make sure I memorize all 10 players’ names and it really just makes it a more enjoyable time for me and the players.”
That isn’t to say he hasn’t had players who have been unhappy with him, for whatever reason. But Kingman said the WSOP is so big that any issues don’t tend to linger.
“The great thing about the WSOP is if I don’t like a player, for the most part I deal with them for 30 minutes and then the rooms and fields are so large, I probably will never see them again,” Kingman said. “There are definitely dealers who take the insults more seriously and personally than I do, but I can understand some of the people getting emotional about it.”
— Email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.