Angela Wyman Interview
Question 1 - [00:05]
Mike: Hi. This is Mike Shackleford with the wizardofodds.com, and I’m here with the lovely Angela Wyman who was formally a Party Pit Dealer, and we’re here to talk about that profession and how to get started in it and how to advance and what she might like players to know about it. So, first of all can you, thank you, and can you tell me, how did you get started in that?
Angela: There’s two basic ways that everyone gets into Party Pit dealing. You either go through a staffing agency and if they like your look they will train you to be a dealer. Or you can go directly through the casino which is a little bit harder, but again, if you go in for a call and they like your look, the casino will train you. I think it’s easier to go with a staffing agency.
They send you to a dealing school as well setting up auditions for you. There are only so many party pits in town and are always opening and closing. And with the staffing agency, they not only know what’s open but they know what is opening and what each pit is working for. Party pits are extremely Vegas creation. It’s a bunch of [unintelligible 00:01:13] clad, young ladies dealing things to you alternating with go-go dancing directly inside of a pit.
So, the most important thing that either the agencies or the casinos look for is your look. You have to be fit and in shape and an attractive young lady. But they also they really care about your personality. You’ve got to be bubbly. You’ve got to be able to talk to people. You have to be comfortable running around in bikini.
And you have to be a decent go-go dancer. So, you’ve to be that whole little package. And if you are all those things and the agency, and they like you, they’ll send you to dealer school. It’s a little bit different than if you’re going in as a Black & White House dealer. You will probably go to school for a much shorter amount of time. I went for two days.
And I had never held a deck of cards before in my life. But it doesn’t take very long to learn Blackjack which is the main game part of the course.
Question 2 - [02:09]
Mike: So, you learned Blackjack in two days and maybe not even knowing the rules of the game going in. Wow. They obviously liked your look so did they train you themselves or they sent you to a crash course? How did you learn it in two days?
Angela: The staffing agency I went to, sent me directly to the dealer school here in Las Vegas. There’re several so it just depends which agency you’re with. What school you’ll go to? The schools are open nine to five or longer. You go in when you want to go in. It’s a very, unstructured, kind of learning which is great for some people. You learn at your own pace.
So, for a quick learner, you can go spend eight hours, and an instructor will work with you from, “This is how you hold a deck of cards.” “This is how you shuffle.” “This is how you fill a rack.” They’ll start you right at that beginning and then work you all the way up. And if you’re willing to really put the time into it and the effort, you’ll learn very quickly. You can go slower.
A lot of people start out doing it around in other jobs so they only have one or two hours a day to go in. I went to school from nine to five at first day. I went home, set up my ironing board and practiced dealing on board for several more hours that night. I went back in the next day. You repeat the process and then I went back to my staffing agency, and they sent me an audition.
Question 3 - [03:27]
Mike: And where did you go for the audition?
Angela: I broke in at Binions which is one of the historic downtown hotels and, of course, again with party pits. It’s a little different. Your skills don’t have to be as polished to start with. You have an unfair advantage because you have [unintelligible 00:03:43]. [Laughs]. They’re looking a little bit less at how neatly your cards are displayed. They’re more interested with how you engage with the people and can keep a smile, and can you count? And that’s a great tip when you’re learning.
Take three decks of cards. Take all the 10s out of them and sit there while you’re doing something else so that you are distracted. Television, radio, your animals, or kids, whatever and just flip cards as fast as you can and count them, and every time you get 21 or over just start again. And you get to where it becomes just automatic and always doesn’t bother you. You just get used to seeing the patterns.
Mike: And that’s also how one will learn to be a card counter.
Angela: I didn’t say anything about counting.
Question 4 - [04:25]
Mike: So you went to Binions and at the time did they have like the western theme for the Party Pit that they do now?
Angela: Yes. Yes. They did. My first job is a Binions cowgirl. It’s one of the only jobs that you will go in and get less dressed than you left the house for. And a lot of time they’ll have a very green Party Pit Dealer doing the Big Six Wheel just so that you get comfortable handling money, handling checks and dealing with people all at once.
Question 5 - [04:48]
Mike: So how long were you with Binions?
Angela: I was only at Binions about three months. And then another one of the casinos further down the road downtown opened a party pit, and I happened to hear about it, and I was one of the first seven girls that went in there. They had much larger nicer pits. Getting in the ground floor’s really neat because you build a team with the girls. And that’s what matters.
Question 6 - [05:12]
Mike: You pull the tips as a Party Dealer. And let’s say that you feel that you’re providing great service and you’re getting tipped well, and there’s another girl that’s not being friendly, and she’s not getting tipped and she’s repelling players. How do you communicate to this girl if she’s not your friend? I think you could be doing more for the team here.
Angela: One of the great things about party pits is that they police themselves. The girls are very aware who the big tip earners are, and anyone can have an off night and anyone can have a great night. But across the board, you’re very aware of what the other girls are doing.
Are they smiling? Do you hear laughter from their tables when they’re up dancing or they’re really trying or they’re [unintelligible 00:06:00]? And if you get someone like that who’s just not pulling her weight, one of the girls, usually, someone has been in the pit the longest will pull them right aside to the dressing room and let her know. Maybe that’s not what the casinos want us to do but it seems to work.
Question 7 - [06:17]
Mike: So, if a young lady, if she wants to be a Party Pit Dealer for a long time. I would imagine it much like being a regular dealer she wants to move up to the better casinos and probably get the better tips so what would be your career advice about how to do that?
Angela: Don’t drink, and don’t do drugs. That sounds really odd. Party pits in Vegas, and you just go crazy. Don’t do those things. All of the casinos have the right to drug-test you at any time. The nicer pits do it all the time. And I’ve seen some really fantastic dancers and dealers go down that way because they were an idiot on Friday night, and came in to work on Saturday. Adjust your lifestyle, then you’ll take it more seriously, and you’ll spend your breaks learning other games.
If you’re through a staffing agency you can always ask them to send you back to school to learn more games. So, every Party Pit Dealer can do Blackjack. But you have to do something more to distinguish yourself. If you want to move up, take care of your body. Take care of the other girls in the pit and learn more games. And smile. There’s nothing worse than a pit full of pretty young ladies in tiny outfits, and they’re [unintelligible 00:07:24].
Question 8 - [07:25]
Mike: Now do you think that a lot of dealers in party pits move on to the conventional dealer or do you think the money is better as a Party Pit Dealer?
Angela: Money’s definitely better at Party Pit Dealer. You will want to stay as a Party Pit Dealer as long as you can. There is a definite shelf life on it. There’s something sad about a 40-year-old woman [laughs] in a tasseled bikini dancing out with 22 year olds. They make as much money as you can. Get as much education as you can while you’re doing it. And if you find that the casino lifestyle is for you, try and move up to the not a regular dealer so much. They don’t think most Party Pit Dealers enjoy that. Be a VIP hostess or even a floor supervisor.
Question 9 - [08:15]
Mike: Now, is there like a top of the mountain for Party Pit Dealers?
Angela: It’s a little bit harder with the party pits. One of the party pits that the girls make the most money is in one of the dive casinos downtown on Fremont Street. Because they don’t get just minimum wage and tips, they get a guaranteed amount per hour, and it’s $20 an hour. So, if they make more than that, they get to keep it. But if for whatever reason they didn’t, they’re still going to make that much. And you wouldn’t expect it’s a little dive pool downtown.
The strip isn’t always better than downtown for party pits and there’s very different rules. If you are the party pit in a major strip casino, excuse me, you are probably going to have to do weekly and monthly wins. Get measured. They’re going to check your nails. They’re going to check your hair.
They’re going to check if your boots are shiny. You’re not going to run into that, downtown. And especially for a lot of the younger single mothers or the girls that are putting themselves through school that little bit of extra freedom to not have a perfect manicure every day or to not wear eyeliner every day more than makes up for the dollar to an hour.
Question 10 - [09:18]
Mike: Do you have much interaction with the other dealers in the casinos that don’t work in the party pit?
Angela: Most of the time Party Pit Dealers just interact with each other. As far as tips go, it varies from casino to casino whether the pit just pulls with the other party girls or if you pull for the whole casino. I’ve never worked in a party pit where we were tapped out for our breaks but Black & White. It was always just the rotation of the girls. You don't really have a chance to.
Question 11 - [09:46]
Mike: I understand that for the industry one advantage of hiring Party Pit Dealers is that they’re not part of the dealer's union, and you can fire them at any time. And do you think that the regular dealers might resent this change in the industry at all?
Angela: Yes, very very much. At the last casino I worked, it was a little bit different because the black and whites and the party pit dealers didn't make an effort to socialize together and very often, the older house dealers were worried that the party pits were going to take their job. There's like two party pits in town right now, they have a daytime shift, so it's only the nighttime shift that is usually affected but it makes the black and whites a little nervous. They don't like that you make more money. To be perfectly fair, we are not part of the dealers' union, you don't get any benefits, you don't get holidays, you don't do double time, overtime, sick days, there's none of that that you'd get as a regular dealer.
And as a regular dealer, you'd get a 20-minute break every hour, as a party pit dealer, there are absolutely no guarantees with that. Very often, you would be on the table for an hour, and 40 minutes, then you'd dance 20 minutes or 40 minutes, so now you're looking at two hours, and 20 minutes and then you get a 20-minute break. They balance that you make a few dollars more an hour but I definitely don't think we're going to take their jobs. [Laughs] They're two very different things.
Question 12 - [11:10]
Mike: What is proper tipping etiquette at the table games in general and do you think that players are expected to tip more in a party pit? Because basically they're getting more in entertainment value.
Angela: Yes, and tip please. Tip, tip lots and tip often. Dealers make minimum wage and tips. It's like anything else in the service industry, the living wage part of it comes from the tips. Especially in a party pit, you're providing a service, you're dancing, you're lighting their cigarettes, it's very, very interactive. There's no just standing back there, dummy up and dealing. So, absolutely players should be tipping for that. And it shouldn't matter whether you're winning or losing, as long as the dealer's still providing their service.
Party pits are lower limits, we don't expect you to tip $5 when you're only betting $5 but, you know, every 10 hands that you play a five dollar, tip us a dollar. Then, many players don't know, which I'd love if they did know, at least in the party pits I worked in, if the player asks the dealer, “Do you want me to bet it for you or do you want to take it?”, the dealer is required to take it. And most dealers I think prefer that you bet with them, it gives them an extra stay, I think it makes their night a little more exciting but if you ask, they have to just take it.
Mike: In my opinion, I think that the girls go through a lot of trouble to look great, and I think they deserve to be rewarded for that. So, I can't speak for everybody, but I think that's it's appropriate to tip even more for that additional service that you're getting.
Angela: I love players like you.
Angela: I agree. We have different rules that we have to abide by than the black and whites. If you ask us if you can smoke, we have to say yes. If you ask us to take a picture, we have to say yes. We have to have our hair right, we have to have our make-up done, you can't stand there and frown. And dealing is not a particularly physical job generally, if you're on your feet, your shoulders might get sore but that's all about it.
But in the party pits, not only are you on your feet, you're on your feet in six-inch platform boots and a tiny outfit, and then after you're done dealing and smiling, you've got to go up on a go-go box and smile and shake it for 20 minutes. So, it's a much more difficult job and for people who do it well, yes, you should get more.
Mike: I love the party pits, the only thing I don't like is most of them only pay six-to-five on a blackjack. I would like to put in a good word for the Golden Gate which, at least has of this interview, pays three-to-two on a blackjack in their party pit, and the whole casino is a party pit except for craps. I would recommend to players that enjoy the party pits, try to look for a blackjack game that pays three-to-two. It's going to be tough to find but be on the lookout for that. If you can't find it, I would bet in minor ratio because those six-to-five payouts are going to cost you a lot, so take it easy, I would play more for the entertainment value than the gambling.
Angela: There's actually a couple of terms that people use for that, that six-to-five instead of three-to-two. It's not too rude but one of them call it the booby or they call it the tit-tax.
Angela: Please excuse the name. But you'll hear people referring to that because of that very reason that the odds are definitely against you. And very, very often they want to get as many hands out as possible with the smallest margin human error, so often in party pits the girls don't even shuffle. They have a continuous automatic shuffler, so that the girls don't have to take time or possibly mess up the shuffle, which is not that hard. [Laughs] But yes, you're definitely paying a little extra commission for that.
Mike: Well, you said that I didn't.
Mike: And with that I think that will do it. And thank you very much for having me and this was Angela Wyman. Thank you very much.
Angela: I hope to see you guys at my table.