|Hilariously, most of my co-workers have only ever seen me wearing black pants and a white button-up shirt.|
I still really like my job. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. Today I had this sort of "a-ha!" moment where I realized that I was putting far less thought and effort into what I was doing than ever and was just letting my movements happen naturally, which was allowing me to engage more with the people at my tables. And I was receiving a lot of positive feedback from both my players and my supervisors, which felt really good.
I spent my car ride home thinking about my approach to my job and why I think I like it so much. And with the benefit of thirty minutes of lettng my mind wander, I came back to one of my favorite older posts in this blog about RPG Analogy.
If you haven't read that old post and don't have time - don't sweat it, you'll figure it out.
|I've always been able to harness magic, this is more about learning new schools of it ;)|
When we last saw Shelly Moonbeam (my character-self), she was coming to grips that she wasn't going to be able to complete her quest to support herself as a Blog Writer. Through luck and determination she was accepted into the local Table Games Dealer's guild, and for the last few weeks her quest has been to go to the casino for ~30ish hours per week and guide other adventurers (my players) through the Card Tables of Chance (my tables) where they will attempt to find treasure (win money). If she can do this well, she can support herself of the treasure that they share with her for her assistance.
As time went on she gained a bunch of levels in dealing cards. You gain skills by screwing up, and at the beginning there was no shortage of mistakes to learn from. For literally the first few weeks of the job, at least one person would remind me to breathe and/or say that they could tell I was nervous - getting to the point where people were no longer saying those things to me is an example of one of her early quests to gain a Dealer Level.
As she gained experience (points), she started to be aware and respectful of the magical powers of the cards she wields. Everyone comes in with dreams of how awesome it'd be to win every hand and fears of how much it would suck to lose every hand. Once she started to tap into that nervous uncertainty, she realized the true nature of her job:. to make it as fun as possible for players when they win, and as painless as possible when they lose.
|The cards in a blackjack shoe are as easy to control as the waves in the ocean.|
In all seriousness, one of my favorite things about dealing cards is that I constantly get to try new ways to interact with people. While I would never do anything like telling that whole backstory above to one of my players, there are certain little tricks that I've found myself doing that definitely seem to allude to it: I like to think of these things as the abilities that my character has as the result of gaining levels:
- I'll constantly refer to the "Blackjack Fairies/Gods/Spirits as the imaginary entity that controls what cards appear. Blackjack (entities) are the ones who are responsible for dealing players nothing but 12-16s. They're the reason people are always dealt blackjacks after they lower their bet to the table minimum. When players are generous tippers, they're the invisible force that send down an aura of good luck. ;) It's always done tongue-in-cheek but players usually seem to have fun with it.
- Whenever possible, I try and rally the table to view each other as a team of people who are working together against me, the villain. Having positive interactions with strangers is a universally fun experience, so to me it's one of the most surefire ways to help ensure that people are having a good time. There really is no funner experience as a dealer (at least in my opinion) than busting a hand at a full table and having a bunch of strangers all shout "OOOOOH!" in unison and high-five each other!
- When people are going through rough stretches and are frustrated, I do my best to channel 22-year-old me after I had gambled away a paycheck in the span of an hour. It sucked, and fifteen years later I'm still able to channel that memory and put myself in their shoes. This helps a lot when players are angry and taking things out on me - gambling can be a really frustrating experience when you're losing at it, and so I do my best to maintain empathy while not taking any negativity personally.
- Now that I can shuffle efficiently without looking down or having to think about it, I like trying to use the time in between shoes to get to know the players. This job is an extrovert's dream come true - I have no issues talking about myself and love asking people questions about who they are / what they do / why they're here.
|I imagine that one day I'll go on an Avatar-like quest to find the Blackjack Fairies and learn their ways?|
"I needed a word to describe what human beings do when they act like humans, not small machines. What we do when we are out there putting our stamp on something, something that might not work. And most of all, I needed a word to describe the generosity and human connection that this kind of work makes, so I called it 'art'. Because we can agree that a playwright is making art, and that Jackson Pollock was making art, but it's also art when you go to a restaurant and they serve you a dish made with care, just for you." - Seth Godin (full quote)
Obviously, not every hour on the job is an epic adventure. Sometimes I'm put at a table with people who don't speak English. Sometimes people are losing and the best thing I can do is shut up and deal the cards. Sometimes, given the hours that I work, there simply aren't any players at the table and my job is to stand still for forty minutes guarding the chips. But I feel like as long as I continue to find ways to make the environment more fun - for me, for my coworkers, for the players - I'll be satisfied doing this for a living. And at this point, I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to keep this up for a pretty long time.