The well-dressed and impeccably groomed men and women who run the table games in casinos are known as croupiers. However, the croupier is more than just a friendly-faced card shuffler.
It’s a job that demands skill, flair, an acute attention to detail, and more than a little personality.
The term has its origins in the word ‘croup’, which is the name given to a horse’s rump. In the sense in which it was originally used in gambling, it referred to the person who rode behind on the back of a horse, because ‘croupier’ actually was used to describe someone who waited behind a player who was gambling, to back him up with extra cash, should he or she need it during the game.
Later, the meaning of the term changed, and referred to the casino employee who collected the money at the tables.
What a Croupier Does
Basically, a croupier runs one of the table games in a casino. They would explain the rules of the game to players, and then deal cards, throw dice, or spin a wheel and drop the ball into it.
Needless to say, the job requires a certain affinity with mental maths, as well as a keen eye. The games they would run include baccarat, blackjack, craps, poker, pontoon, Punto Banco, and roulette, among others.
Among the first duties on a shift would be to get the table ready before the game begins, and then to welcome players to the table. Another initial duty would be to ensure that players have got all their chips on the table. This happens before the game starts.
In addition to explaining the rules of the game to players, a croupier also needs to ensure that the game runs smoothly, and that all players stick to the rules.
When the game has ended and the winner has been announced, they need to collect all the chips from losing bets, and then work out the winners’ payouts.
In most casinos, croupiers seldom work alone, in that they are supervised by gaming inspectors, who report to a games pit boss. Gaming inspectors are also on the watch for suspicious behaviour, and ensure that all the rules and regulations are adhered to.
Training a Croupier
How a croupier is trained depends on what country they’re in. In many European countries, the very first game they learn is roulette, while in the USA and Canada, they usually learn blackjack first.
As croupiers grow in skill and experience, and if they prove they are up to the job, they take on more difficult games such as craps.
In some places, they need to obtain a license from the relevant country’s gambling commission once they have completed an initial training course, which is usually offered by the casinos.
During the course, a prospective croupier learns game rules, skills, and techniques, as well as customer service and how to interact with players. They would also learn some casino or gambling legislation.
Tips and the Croupier
One of the questions asked most frequently about playing table games in land-based casinos is whether or not players should tip the croupier. Basically, the answer depends on where in the world players are.
In some countries, tipping, at least by players who’ve been successful, is not only encouraged; it’s expected. In such places, croupiers do not earn incredibly high wages, so tips, which are often pooled and divided among the staff, go a long way in supplementing their incomes.
In other countries, casinos strictly forbid tipping croupiers.