When you think of your favorite casino table top game, you can’t help but envision the smartly-dressed dealer who stands behind it, ready to guide and regulate your gameplay. Historians and authors continue to look back through the past, in an effort to trace the origins of the casino games that we know and love today.
This includes Willian Norman Thompson, with his encyclopedic work Gambling in America, which states:
“A casino is more than a mere place where independent players can conduct their own games.”
The emphasis here is on “independent” – highlighting exactly how essential the role of the dealer has become. They are there not only to guide, but to also count bets, deal the cards (or spin the wheel, depending on your game of choice), whilst also calculating payouts.
To become a dealer, you must undergo extensive training and prove that you have sound knowledge and skill, when it comes to casino-based games. The exact level of training required will often be reflected in the quality of the casino that you end up working at – for example, higher-stake casinos will most likely require higher levels of qualification standards, more so than an amateur-directed establishment.
Over the years, the role of the casino dealer has continued to evolve, with online and even live online casinos emerging thanks to new technological advancements. Join us as we take a closer look down memory lane.
The Origin of the Word
There are two main terms that are used when talking about this essential gaming role – dealer and croupier.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word dealer derives from the Old English noun ‘deal’, which means “divider, distributor; agent, negotiator”. During the 1600s the word then changed, expanding to cover “one whose business is to buy and sell merchandise”  and finally “(a) player who passes out the cards in a game”.
The word croupier appeared in the following century. The origin of the term comes from the German word ‘croup’ which refers to “one who rides behind another” on the rump (croup) of a horse. This was then extended to anyone who backs up another – in terms of the casino, this meant the croupier backs up the casino table game and supports all gameplay.
In 1731, croupier was defined as the “one who clears the winnings from the table in gambling” taken from the French term of the same name, which translates to “partner or assistant at the gaming table”.
These terms have remained firmly in place within our casino vocabulary, still being used frequently today.
Modern Land-based Casino Dealers
Visit any big-name, brick-and-mortar establishment and you’ll find a traditionally trained, tuxedo-wearing dealer at the head of most gaming tables. This is the more tried-and-tested version of a casino dealer. The main skills that are expected of these dealers are chip handling, quick mental arithmetic, card control and shuffling.
A standard casino dealer today, will have sound knowledge of all the classic table top games, such as Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and Poker. Depending on the casino, the dealer may also be required to learn basic dice games or alternative, re-invented versions of the classics.
In short, the dealer’s job is to keep all gameplay running smoothly, and maintain the overall ambiance of the casino. If you’re a beginner at casino gaming, then the dealer is also your port of call for any rules or betting types that you may need help understanding.
Online Live Casino Dealers
Online casino gaming took a huge leap over to online platforms in the late ‘90s, much to the delight of avid players. This new way to play was far more accessible than brick-and-mortar casino gaming, allowing people to play their favorite casino classics from the comfort of their own home. But what did that mean for dealers?
Well, at first, it wasn’t looking too good for the future of the casino dealer. But then along came the invention of live online casino games. Real-time games were available to stream on almost any device, re-injecting that electric in-person gaming magic into playing from home. As the games were physically being played out, a dealer was needed once again, although the role had now slightly changed.
The trend caught on worldwide, gaining popularity in the UK and Europe, with casinos like Gala and Monte Carlo. The craze has even reached Canada where traditional dealers from Niagara Falls can be seen as live dealers on Play Alberta and other regulated Canadian gaming sites.
The dealer continues to monitor all gameplay, but also must remain conscious of the players at home. At first, this proved to be a problem as the games were streamed from functioning casinos, with real-life players surrounding the table. The camera often ended up being blocked and the angles not quite right. Thankfully, this was all fixed when dedicated studios came into the live casino fold, ensuring the perfect, unobstructed camera angles could be used.
When a player places their bet during a live casino game, it still goes straight to the dealer to handle, much like in the traditional setting. The live casino dealer will narrate gameplay whilst they sort out the bets, helping to bridge the gap between online and in-person gaming.
The Future of Casino Dealers
With live casino gaming already posing as a great example of how technology can elevate the role of the casino dealer, the future is full of further possibilities. Here’s a few that we see in the not-so distant future:
- Virtual Reality (VR) – this will probably be the next big leap for online casino dealers, and will allow at-home players to feel even closer to their live dealers. This involves a VR headset and offers a 3D experience, where players can feel completely transported into a new world – in this case, the casino!
- Mobile Gaming – whilst other parts of the world boast dedicated mobile-only gaming apps, we see some of Canada’s provinces branching out and coming out with regulated gaming apps of their very own. This will take the online gaming experience to the next level, and allow players to play just about anywhere, as long as there’s an internet connection.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – looking a lot further into the future, it’s easy to predict that we will see AI being introducing into the live online casino scene. What this would look like is currently unknown, however a robot dealer would not be out of the realm of possibility!
Now that you know a lot more about the role of the casino dealer, where do you think this iconic role will be in 10 years’ time?