I have a lot of fun writing about how to win money in the casino — I’ve written posts about winning at blackjack without counting cards, winning at online casinos, and winning at gas station slot machines. But today, I want to look at how to become a pit boss, which is veering into a slightly different direction.
How do you become a pit boss?
Start by getting a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada in gaming management. Another option is to get a bachelor’s degree in business. The degree isn’t a requirement; in fact, most pit bosses don’t have any kind of bachelor’s degree. But such a degree will give you an edge over other applicants. The other route to take is to get training as a casino dealer and climb the ladder from there. Either way, becoming a pit boss can be a stepping stone to a career as a casino manager.
How to Become a Pit Boss – The Job Description
What does a pit boss actually do, though?
In a casino, the pit is a group of gambling tables arranged in a circle or oval. The casino staff, including the pit boss, work inside that oval. The players all sit or stand outside the pit.
Many times, a pit consists of all one game — for example, you might have a pit that consists of four craps table or eight blackjack tables. In a big casino, some games will have multiple pits, but in smaller casinos, you might have a single pit for each game.
I’ve been to one casino where there was a pit just for card games, but they weren’t all the same game. The staff working in the pit are the “pit critters.” (Obviously, that’s informal.)
The employees dealing directly with the gamblers are the dealers. Another employee, the floorperson, supervises multiple dealers and tables. The pit boss is the employee who supervises the floorpersons and the dealers.
The pit boss might or might not be friendly; he’s supposed to be extra alert because he’s responsible for anything that goes wrong at any of the tables in his pit. Most gamblers deal with dealers and floorpersons. When someone tells you about the pit boss giving them a free breakfast, they’re usually dealing with a floorperson and just don’t know it.
From the perspective of becoming a pit boss, the career ladder starts with being a dealer. You’ll specialize in a single game at low limits, first, and later move up to bigger stakes and more games.
The next step on the career ladder is to become a floorperson.
How Much Do Pit Bosses Make?
The average pit boss earns between $35 and $70 per hour. That can equate to well over $100,000 a year. It’s a high-stress job, but it pays well. Obviously, pit bosses at bigger casinos tend to make more money than pit bosses at smaller casinos.
How much do pit bosses make?
Where you work is important. Pit bosses on the Strip in Las Vegas make more money than pit bosses in Thackerville, Oklahoma, for example.
Of course, the starting salary for a dealer — which, remember, is the first step on this career ladder — is more like $25 per hour. Since dealers earn tips, at higher stakes, they can make almost as much as a floorperson or pit boss.
But the higher stakes tables are competitive.
All the casino dealers want to work at those tables.
Where Else Can You Go on This Career Path?
Becoming a pit boss doesn’t have to mean the end of your career, either. Many pit bosses move up to work as shift managers. In a casino that’s open 24 hours a day, shift managers take one of three shifts –day, swing, or graveyard. All the pit bosses report directly to the shift manager.
Most shift managers are area and game specific. For example, you might have one shift manager in charge of all the craps pits, and all the pit bosses in those pits report to that shift manager. You might have another shift manager in charge of all the blackjack pits, and so on.
The next step on this career ladder, of course, is the casino manager. That’s the employee responsible for the entire casino during a shift. Most casino managers don’t deal with customers at all.
What Skills Do You Need to Succeed as a Pit Boss?
Most pit bosses start as dealers and get promoted from within. This can take some time, as you need to learn how to deal multiple games. A degree from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas can help, too, but it’s not necessarily a prerequisite.
You should be good at math if you want to be a pit boss. In fact, that’s probably the most important hard skill for a pit boss to have — expertise in mathematics.
Interpersonal skills are also important. Being able to stay calm during heated situations is important because pit bosses deal with disputes between players and dealers. When money’s on the line, these kinds of interactions can become intense.
In many ways, all the skills that are important in hospitality management are important in casino management, too. You need to know how to deal with gamblers who’ve had too much to drink, too.
Learning How to Count Cards
One skill pit bosses need is the ability to count cards. If a dealer suspects a blackjack player of counting, they’ll look to the pit boss to verify. After watching a gambler play blackjack through an entire shoe, a good pit boss can count along with the player and know whether the player is counting or not.
Of course, if a card counter offers a serious threat to the casino, the pit boss is responsible for confronting the player and backing them off. At most casinos, the pit boss just asks the player to stick with the other games in the casino. In some casinos and in some circumstances, a pit boss might have security escort the counter out of the casino.
Applying for Casino Jobs
Applying for a job at a casino isn’t hard to do. Just go into the casino and ask someone who’s working there where you need to apply.
Finally, if you know someone working at the casino, you can always ask them for a referral.
Understanding how to become a pit boss isn’t hard. Get the qualifications and start climbing the ladder. Be sure you’re good at math.
All the usual stuff that applies to a career in any industry applies here, too — be punctual. Take pride in your work. Be a team player.
Being a pit boss can be a satisfying career choice, but it can also be a stepping stone toward something bigger.