“Some of the students here have no clue about casinos and gambling,” Sloane said. “A lot have never been to a casino.” But for those determined to land casino jobs, “We’ll be able to make good dealers out of them.”
He glanced at a blackjack table, at which several students were fumbling chips, then revised his prediction: “We’ll make good dealers out of most of them.”
Twelve students ringed their usual craps table, nine of them wagering pretend money on the outcomes of individual throws of the dice and rounds of multiple rolls.
Each time the dice landed, one of the three student dealers called a number, announced what to do with the bets and collected the dice with a 48-inch rattan stick.
Taysha Shaw and a second-base dealer then dragged in the losing bets, paid off the winners and began booking new wagers for the players.
At least that’s how it was supposed to work.
“You left one out there,” instructor Letitia Hilferty said after Shaw forgot to collect a losing bet.
“Nope,” Hilferty said when Shaw placed an incorrect payout on the felt. “Every $5 is going to get $7.”
“Nope,” she admonished again. “Wrong.”
“Why aren’t you using both hands?” Hilferty asked. “Keep the red [chips] in that hand and get some white in your other hand. Then put the white back and get some green. Come on, I need to see you do this.”
Shaw thought she was a quick study, but the game was coming too quickly. Like most of the rest of the craps students in the room, she was struggling to keep up.
“It’s coming together,” she said. “But it’s harder than I thought. There’s a lot to remember.”
The vivacious 38-year-old mother and grandmother from Prince George’s County didn’t necessarily need the casino job. She owns a successful hair salon in Oxon Hill.
“But you can never have too much money,” she said — and she wanted the casino’s benefits package and its glamour, too.
“I’ve been doing hair for 16 years,” she said. “I need some more excitement.”
So she came to dealer school every day from noon to 4, even on the day her uncle died because, she said, “I can’t afford to miss any time.”
She was still seeing clients at night and on weekends at Hair Xpress, and she was still taking care of her three children — ages 2 to 21 — plus a grandchild who wasn’t yet 1, plus her 71-year-old mother. “I’m overwhelmed,” Shaw said. “I’m running around like Benny Hill.”
There was barely any time to study and practice — a common lament at dealer school. Students looked for ways to improve whenever and wherever they could.
Cara DeRosa, who was still trying to master the complexities of craps after her February meltdown, would shake a dice-rolling app on her smartphone and make the corresponding stick call while watching movies with her fiance. Mike Lukoski, a 36-year-old Essex bartender, used an online craps game to roll the digital dice and paid out bets on a piece of felt stretched across his ottoman. Dana Trantham, the 37-year-old from Greenbelt who had been unemployed for 19 months, tried using speed-math drills on YouTube and enlisted her 13-year-old son to play craps in their kitchen. Maggie Neiss, the 23-year-old Cheesecake Factory waitress, was constantly fiddling with chips at home in Glen Burnie.