Casino Stories with Sterling
Heather: Hello and welcome. I am so excited for today's livestream. We are joined with a guest who is from across the pond. Sterling?
Heather: Sterling, why don’t you introduce yourself.
Sterling: Thank you. I am Sterling. Originally I am from Nottingham and currently living in Belfast. I was a dealer for about three years. I’ve worked in Nottingham and Edinburgh. I mainly dealt roulette, blackjack, three card poker, four card poker and different variants of the games.
Heather: Thanks so much for joining. Thank you for coming on and sharing your stories. I am really excited to hear what you have to say and your experiences and everything. For those of you who are watching we are doing Casino Stories UK version.
I guess the first thing we should do is do you want to tell us how you got into the industry? How you got into dealing? Where specifically you dealt? Did you enjoy it? Did you like it?
Sterling: I did really enjoy the job. At times it was difficult and there were times that I was like I can’t do this. I’ve had enough. Looking back on life, I actually – the best part of my life was working in casinos. I got started through a friend. I was working at a bar. I really hated the job. Rarely there were enough hours. I actually hated it. I just went on a night out with one of my mates. He bumped into one of his mates who worked at the casinos. He got us an interview and I started as a cashier, working at the cash desk, or the cage. Basically I was like, dealing looks really fun, because I didn’t have a license at this point. I couldn’t do anything. I was out drinking coffee and reading the manual, just enjoying life and getting paid for it. In the case of – I was looking over and everyone was dealing, that actually looks fun and challenging. So I spoke to management they got everything through and basically started training school.
Heather: Nice. So you went through the casinos training school? Was it a free training school that they had?
Sterling: Yes. So basically it was all inhouse. It was a case of look just come along. Because nine times out of ten, if you pass the training school you basically were guaranteed the job. As long as you pass your probationary period it was like, come work for us.
Heather: Was it one of those things where if you don’t pass you would have to pay them back for the school?
Sterling: No. I think the only time we would have to pay anything back is during that time in training school. They wanted us to start applying for our license. So it was then a case of, okay your license has been paid for and it was a case of you left within the certain amount of time you had to pay the casino three wages to pay back the cost of the license.
Heather: Okay. So what was the process of getting the license? And then how long did they have to stay in order to not have to pay back the cost of the license?
Sterling: So I think it was a case of – I think it was three years. Or possibly under two years and the license was paid for. So it was a case of after two years you didn’t have to pay for it. I think if you left after a year you had to pay half.
Heather: Okay so it wasn’t the full amount?
Sterling: No. But to be fair it only cost about £200.
Sterling: It’s not too bad. I think $150 I think. Don’t quote me.
Heather: What was the process of getting the license? What were some of the things they looked out for?
Sterling: So to get your license you have to fill in forms, send in my passport, my provisional driving license, my birth certificate, proof of address. I had to give them an extensive list of where I had lived for the past 10 years. It was quite easy because I had just moved out of my parents house at that point. So I only had like two addresses. Then they are like – education, for the past ten years. I had to remember like the time frame that I was at school. So I was thinking, I was nine. What school was I at when I was nine years old? I have to remember the dates. And basically the entire employment history. I was like now we are talking – because if he was out of work for a bit, you have to put that you were out of work. It was like going through your mind with all this information that they are asking. It was like, I have never had to give this information before. Then I ended up getting a phone call for something, I can’t remember, basically I got a phone call from them to ask stuff I was like – then I had to wait for two weeks for the actual things to come through.
Heather: Did you have to do fingerprints or a drug test?
Sterling: No. Because at that point I believe when the UK was still within the EU. I think a lot of companies were like no we don’t do wide scale drug test.
Sterling: I think, again don’t quote me, I think it was case of – because we were subject to random locker searches. So it was the case of if you were found in possession, you may have had to take a drug test that you was not on the drugs.
Sterling: No we didn’t have to fingerprint or anything. What was really annoying was if I moved address, I would have to get in contact with the gambling commission. I say, I have moved address. And they would be like say ok just send us proof. It’s like talking to a brick wall trying to get a hold of them. It is physically impossible. No one knows how to get into contact with the gambling commission at all.
Heather: Remind people really quickly where this was located again?
Sterling: So I worked in Nottingham for two and half years. I then got an internal transfer up to Edinburg Scotland. I stayed there for about five months. Not long at all and then I came back. Back to Nottingham to carry on. Then I taught redundancy shortly after. At that point – as much as I loved the job, I can’t do it anymore.
Heather: What were some of the differences between the United Kingland and Schottland?
Sterling: The money. Because obviously in England it was case of you have your 5, your 10 and your 20 quid and £50 notes. And recognize – fivers were green, tenners were like an orangy brown, 20s were purplish, and 50s were red.
But then obviously going to Scotland because they use four different banks. So each bank produce their own notes. So it was case of getting thrown a bet that was £100 and getting thrown two notes. You think oh two 50s, but they were bright green so it was like no – I called no bet. Like it’s not valid. We cannot accept it. It comes in, customer kicks off like this is the valid bet. Management comes over and says what is the issue. I genuinely thought – because I turned to him and said this customer is throwing me a bet, but they are using € (euros) not £ (pounds). He had to explain why this is the £50 notice up here. I was like okay.
So I was taken off table and was given a low crash course on all the different notes that I will end up seeing. I was like – why can’t it just be universal?
Heather: Did you have to check them for counterfeit? Was counterfeit money ever used on your table?
Sterling: Everytime we got cash. Because obviously we changed from the paper ones to like the plastic notes. So during when we were using the paper ones it was case of whether it was £20 or £2000. It was a case of counting it out and get a pen to run it along to check.
Regarding counterfeit, I have had a few counterfeit notes on the table. Luckily the bet didn’t come in so it was like not valid anyway. So when I went to check you see this big black line across the note and I was like that wasn’t meant to happen.
Heather: That’s not normal.
Sterling: No. So basically you have to stop the entire game. When you have 10 or 15 people around the table getting angry because you are not dealing out. I was like there is a black line on this note, that is not meant to happen! That is why I am stopping the game. Then you talk to the inspector and say Hi, I’ve got – Then they basically check the cameras to see who threw it. Then basically go to them and say what is occurring? I think it may of been a case of may have to call the police because obviously possession of counterfeit money. Something that doesn’t look good on us if we are accepting it. I will admit there was some dealers that wasn’t as vigilant as others when it comes to counterfeit notes.
Heather: Oh man.
Sterling: So when you are stuck in the count room, counting all the cash for yesterday's drop. And you put it in the machine and it keeps spitting the note out. Then you go to use the pen to double check and then you see that black line. That is why.
Heather: That is really interesting. Now we do have a couple questions from our viewers.
Q: Greg: Do you have any memorable drunk people stories?
A: Sterling: Oh because obviously quite a lot because we are a 24 hour casino. Open every single day apart from Christmas day. So it will be the case of 5:00 a.m. You will have people stumbling in from the night clubs. I think I had one guy – I think he just came back off of holiday and he tried to use € on the table. I was like, “Mate we cannot accept that at all.” He was adamant, this is the money you use in the UK. I was like No, it doesn’t have the queens face on it. It’s not legitimate. He was adamant to the point he was getting very aggressive. He was swearing and this, that and the other because, I wouldn’t take his money. He then went off on this massive rant like all casinos what to do is steal your money and they want to rob you blind. But as soon as you offer them the money they don’t want it.
Heather: I am glad to know that the players in the UK do the same thing the players do in Las Vegas do and accuse the casino of stealing their money. It’s like this universal thing.
Sterling: Oh yeah. A lot of – when they drink they don’t seem to comprehend. One time I remember I was on blackjack dealing and a guy had 20. He decided to hit and ended up getting a 2. So I was like, “You lost!” I was a bit more professional when I said it. But he was arguing with me the whole time, “No that’s 21, you don’t know how to count that!” I am thinking, neither do you but we will ignore that. He was adamant – I can’t restrict the cards. I have to call my inspector over. He was like what is the issue? I was like the customer here thinks he got 21 when he obviously got 22. He’s not believing me. I showed him the cards. Now I have to get your permission. He was like yeah just do it.
Because we are based in the city center. The weekday nights, especially Wednesdays is student night. So we have a lot of students come in. I think the best one was a guy again playing blackjack, he bust and he again argued that I couldn’t count. It turns out he was doing the math degree. I was like you are doing a math degree and yet you can’t even count. I don’t know why drunk people just lose all forms of normality. And just love to basically lower the IQ points.
Heather: Yes. Yes.
Sterling: How did you get dressed in the morning with that level of IQ that you are currently showing me? How?
Heather: We had a drunk woman on our table one time. She was so wasted. She kept touching her face. She had this bright red lipstick on. So she was getting lipstick all over her face. She had a smear here, and a smear here, and here. There was lipstick everywhere. She got it all over her hands. This was the annoying part, when she touched her cards she would mark the cards with the red lipstick. The floor supervisor was like, “Now we have to change the cards!” And then she would do it again, and we would have to change the cards again. And then she would do it. Finally it got to the point where it’s like, you just need to leave! Go away!
Sterling: Obviously the casinos I dealt out customers could not touch the cards on blackjack at all. It was all dealer. Only the dealer could touch them. Obviously there was one drunk woman at a roulette table I was dealing at. Now in the nicest way she was quite a large girl on top with a very low cut dress. So I just basically dollyed the number to indicate the winning number. I’m starting to clear, she bends over, everything falls out, chips are flying. I am just like (covers his eyes). She didn’t realize this had happened. She didn’t realize her poppies are basically fell out. How do I tell her? Dude, do I like signify to one of the guests to be polite. Do I say something? Do I get my inspector to be like can you tell her she like exposed herself? I just felt really awkward. I don’t know what to do.
Heather: What happened?
Sterling: The inspector had to basically in the nicest way say, “Excuse me love, can you put your bops back in, they have caused distraction on the table and basically distracted the dealer from his job?”
So then she realized, then she was like, “Oh!” So she put everything back. Luckily the chips she knocked, it didn’t interfere with the chips I was taking away. So it was like here are your chips back. She then just cashed in due to the embarrassment. I was like, “I don’t blame you love.” Honestly.
Heather: Oh man! I swear that is just part of dealing. You see naked people sometimes. It’s just like shocking. But they are there and you can’t do anything.
Sterling: What makes it worse is as I was clearing I was still at eye level. As I was scooping, eye level contact. Do I look? Don’t I look? What do I do?
Heather: How can you not look if they are right there?
Sterling: In the nicest way they are a bit hard to miss. Like –
Heather: Oh man drunk people give us the best stories. We have one more question from the chat.
Q: Alex says what is your favorite game to deal? Mine is craps!
A: Sterling: Mine varies because sometimes it would be roulette because it is very fast paced and always thinking all the time. Like just basically in the zone game. At times I love that. It was a lot of my time there that I absolutely hated blackjack.
Sterling: I think it was like the joke, like what’s green and has seven assholes (pardon my French)? A blackjack table. That’s how it was, it was everyone that sat there. They were just absolutely not nice people.
Heather: I completely agree with you. Roulette was one of my favorite games to deal and blackjack was one of my most hated games to deal. Blackjack was so boring. I just wanted to fall asleep. At least with roulette there was math and you could do stuff, and you had to watch the table. I loved it.
Sterling: Even when I stood on the empty roulette table I had chips to play with. I was able to keep myself entertained. What else on blackjack? I couldn’t do that. The float was locked. The cards were in the machine. I was like –
Heather: You would get into trouble. If you were on a blackjack table playing with chips, you would so get into trouble.
Sterling: Like it was the case of I got told, someday I look pretty. So it was the case of I was just board. So nine times out of ten I just play on the system thing on the tablet. Oh who is in tonight? Oh they are in. Yeah they are annoying and they are annoying. Oh they are not bad. Well they don’t play blackjack much. Oh he’s in. Oh my!
I absolutely despise 3 Card Poker. Throughout the entire time I was there I despised it! I don’t know if it is the same over there but especially as you have the older generation. We sat there. We started three cards, but they take about 20 minutes to look. They would do it millimeter by millimeter and you are like, just take a look ok! It would make the game a lot faster. Because we got told that you need to deal so many hands an hour. It’s like I would but we got these people here who take five minutes to take a look at the first two cards. How can I deal that many hands?
Heather: That is one of the things about being a dealer is like you have to keep your game pace up but at the same time you can’t pissoff the players. You can’t be like, come on dude, move! You have to do it nice and gently and not offend anyone.
Sterling: On roulette you could. You could speed the game up –
Heather: Well you have the ball spinning. You can be like it’s going to drop in two seconds, you have no choice. You know.
Sterling: I mean it’s like when I moved to Edinburgh. I came from a casino that was based in the city center and moved into a casino that was quite out of the city. So what they would consider a very busy Saturday night would be a standard Thursday afternoon for me. So it was to the point, if a table was losing money in Edinburgh – I would come onto shift and be like (bord face). See that table over there it’s losing money, go source it. If you can clear it in 15 minutes we will let you go home a half an hour early. I was like, my time to try!
Heather: We can do this. Right!
Sterling: Nine times out of ten I just basically pick up the pace of the game by literally calling numbers left right and center. Most people are like, yeah can I cash out now? Yeah no bother. Here you go! So nine times out of ten when I was in Edinburgh, I stood on a really empty table. I would go join a busy table and leave with an empty table.
Heather: You are the cooler.
Sterling: Basically. My mate, he got dogs and the angel of death for 3 Card Poker. Because there was one customer who would literally take, take, take all the cash out of the float. And then they just send him on. And he would get the cash right back. So like I feel like every dealer has their own game that when they get put on it they sort it. The casino knows they are in safe hands.
Heather: Yep. I was a blackjack one. It would be swing shift. They would want to close a table and the table was dumping, dumping, dumping. Oh just put Heather on there. They put me on there and I would seriously get a 5 card 21 every single time. The players hated me so badly.
Sterling: I love when you get the multiple card 21. Like the most I got was an eight card 21. And they are like how? How? And I am like, I don’t know. Just lucky I guess.
Heather: And you can’t do it when you are a player. You can only do it when you are a dealer. It does not happen when you go play the game.
Sterling: Exactly. You go to a different casino, you are like, “I’ve got the luck!” No, you just turn into another player.
Sterling: And you faithfully feel like – I used to like going to rival casino. Basically tormenting the trainee dealers. The brand new dealers are like…Because there would be a group of us like four or five. We are like, in the nicest way as much as we complain about the idiots that we have to deal with. For five minutes let’s be them idiots. But the way we see it is the case of, we are training them. This is how customers are…deal with it.
Heather: Okay so last part of the show. Have you ever had anyone throw anything at you? Any player throw anything? Now I have told this story a couple times on my channel. I am sure people are sick of hearing it, but I had an ashtray thrown at me. Have you ever had anything like that thrown at you?
Sterling: I have had cards thrown at me from 3 Card and 4 Card Poker. I have had roulette color chips thrown at me because this customer wanted a certain color because it was their lucky color. It was a busy Friday night, I couldn’t just go, “Oh yes Sir, give me one second.” Like excuse me could you bring me all your chips so this customer complained? No! So I had to give him – He wanted dark blue, so I gave him light blue. I think I got a stack thrown at me because it wasn’t the right blue. I am like, “I am sorry you have to be an adult to be here not a child!”
I have had someone throw their hat at me. Pens. Mainly pens thrown at me by the inspectors. We just get bored and literally grab a pen. And just throw it at each other across the tables. Especially both of us working there.
Heather: That brings a new meaning to cross firing.
Sterling: Basically. Also we have like four tables in a pit. So we would have a set of keys for one pit. A set of keys for the next pit. A set of keys for the next pit. So I have to lock up on blackjack and the keys were on the second roulette table and it was diagonal. So I asked for the keys. It got thrown. I went to catch it and it smacked me in the eye. So I was like, “Cheers for that!” I was like keys thrown at me. I was like that for a bit. But yeah!
I had someone spit at me once. While I was on break. I was enjoying my break, I had my coffee, I’ve got my cigarettes. I'm happy as Larry! A Customer comes up to me starters giving me all of that. I was like sorry we have no control, we can only do so much. He cursed like a sailor at me and he went like (spit!). I was like EWW! So I just ran to the (inaudible). Drunk guy over there. Can we kick him out? He just spat at me. Showed him my waistcoat. Big bit of spit. Yeah you are finished in a half hour, do you just want to go home now? Yep.
Heather: Well at least you got an EO out of it, thank goodness.
Sterling: Oh yeah. Full pay as well. Just last break it. Just go on last break.
Heather: People man! What are they thinking?
Sterling: I think when money is involved a lot of people just lose common sense and think this that and the other things like. No! Absolutely not!
Heather: Money and alcohol.
Sterling: Oh yeah. And sometimes other things. I walked into the toilet once and seen a gentleman bent over with a rolled up £20 note.
Heather: Did you just turn around and walk right back out?
Sterling: I was like oh. Have to talk to management. There’s a guy sniffing in the toilets. Made a little joke. I was like, he didn’t even share it, but you know. Obviously he got kicked out and banned.
Heather: Yeah. We have people use drugs here in Las Vegas. In 2000 I had a guy light up a joint on my table. This was before it was socially acceptable. This is still on lockdown. OMG it is really dangerous and all that. The guy just lit up on my table and started smoking on my table. I was like Sir, that is illegal, you can’t do that. Oh no he said, it is fine. I got a medical marijuana license, from some other state. It’s totally good. I was like, no it doesn’t work like that dude. You can’t just do that, no.
Sterling: When I was – you weren’t allowed to smoke inside. It was completely illegal since 2007. You couldn’t go to Pubs, clubs, bars, and casinos. You couldn’t go anywhere and just have a fag inside, you had to go stand outside.
Sterling: We did have a drunk guy try to light a cigarette and was like, “No, No, No!” Luckily I was going on break so I was like, “No, No, No, come with me Sir.” I had to escort him out to the smoking area.
Heather: OMG. Did you have anything else thrown at you before I go on to my next question?
Any hot women throw themselves at you?
Sterling: No. No.
Heather: Oh Darn.
Sterling: I think the only thing I got thrown at me was abuse. Profanity. That is all that got thrown at me.
Heather: Oh sorry. Unfortunately that is why you need a thick skin as a casino dealer. I had people be like, no you don’t need a thick skin. Everything will be fine. Everyone is wonderful and great. Ok you’ve never been a casino dealer before have you?
Sterling: I also feel like you need a good level of sarcasm and passive aggressiveness.
Heather: Yeah and a sense of humor and everything. Completely.
Sterling: Especially through the graveyard shift. When it’s about 5 a.m. in the morning and you are like two hours left! And you have the drunk customers that try to make change and make no sense. You gotta basically babysit at that point. It’s like hmmm.
Heather: Yep you are babysitting. Now I know things are a little bit different on that side of the world. You guys actually have punto banco over there. You guys are actually still having it in your casinos and playing it and everything. We don’t have punto banco we have baccarat, but it just fascinated me that you have one version and we have another. I am always sitting here talking about punto banco, what was it like to actually learn to deal it?
Sterling: We do have baccarat over here as well, but it’s more –
Heather: Oh you do?
Sterling: Yeah so obviously because it’s quite big in the Chinese community. So there is a casino in London. Obviously it’s quite near China town so it’s literally – they do have quite a lot of punto banco and baccarat tables. So basically – we just have a smaller version. I have to try to learn the commissions. I struggle to learn them. And the person that was meant to train me was like, “Alright you’ve got £6 bet, what is the commission?” I was like hummmmm and she was like, “Nope!” It had to be, alright you got this what’s the commission, your like yeah done!
Like I got taught drawing room rules. The only thing I could remember is when you put the back cards you make sure you’ve got seven. That’s the only thing I remember. That’s all that I remember from that. And naturally that’s it. That’s all I remember. I never got to deal, it because I was professionally trained. That was literally it.
Heather: Okay. Got ya. Now before we end this livestream, we are going to answer some of the questions.
Q: How do you guys accommodate handicap players? I had a put boss tell me that I had to sit at the blackjack table stool but I had hip surgery and a brace that kept me locked till sitting time for healing time. Is this normal?
A: Sterling: In England we did have someone come in with a similar situation. Like normally if your not sat you can’t play. Obviously you could play behind someone. Obviously they did talk to the pit boss and they went, “No that is absolutely fine, you have given us a reason why. We’ve got no issue with that.” I think it’s more per casino discretion, rather than just a universal rule. It was more per casino.
Heather: Okay. That makes sense. Is there anything else you would like to tell us? Anything we didn’t cover?
Sterling: You asked if I had things thrown at me. I have, but I also threw something at a customer. Obviously it was when I was in Scotland. There are a lot of Scottish people that are not fans of the English. He was basically all night following me table to table just to give me abuse. I was like, “I have heard it all before. Can you think of something more creative?” And I was just at the end of my shift. I was ready to burst. He then decided to insult my mum and say some very nasty things about my mother.
Heather: Oh no!
Sterling: I just picked up the dolly that is made of pure acrylic. Just lobbed it, it hit the table and bounced off and hit him. I got taken off the table very sharpish. They reviewed the whole night's footage of all his interactions with me. They were like, “We are meant to discipline you, but because you kept your cool throughout the majority of the whole shift we are just going to give you a warning. Just don’t do it again.” I was like well just bar him? And they are like, “Well no we are going to bar him. He will not be able to set foot in here again. But maybe next time when you get someone like that again, come talk to us first.” I was like, “Okay.”
Heather: Well at least they were nice about it. At Least they didn’t give you too much crap.
Sterling: To be fair he was absolutely trollied. I don’t think he knew what was happening half the time.
Heather: I am glad it worked out. Thank you so so much for being here. Thanks for your stories. I hope we can have you on again sometime in the future. I know there is a lot more I would love to ask you.
Sterling: Absolutely. I have enjoyed being here. Anytime you would like to have us back.
Heather: Thank you guys! This is Heather Ferris reminding you that education can change the world.