They are the ones who get in action the moment the magical words ‘ Shuffle Up and Deal’ are recited. They are the ones who burn the midnight oil(quite literally, so) as we enjoy a game. They cheer us up when we have a bad beat and give that strict melody to our ‘All-in’ Call. They are the Poker Dealers! The unsung heroes and heroines of a Poker Game! Quite justifiably, the kings of the table with the deck of 52 under their control. They have been around here since the world started playing poker professionally. They have watched mutely as millions have exchanged hands and poker history has been created.Yet someone we never acknowledge after winning or losing.
We thank the organisers for a superb tournament, we high-five the players against whom we played, we even compliment the service staff who got us the Red Bull at midnight. But we forget to pat the backs of the dealers who are the lifeline of any poker game. Most of the poker dealers in India are limited to the casinos in Goa and a few of them travel to cities like Bangalore which has seen a rise of poker rooms recently. They undergo a skill-training before starting their career as professional dealers in which they are taught the game rules, card-shuffling and dealing techniques, counting and handling of poker chips and poker table etiquettes.
OnlinePokerNews (OPN) took an initiative to bring them to the forefront of the poker industry and know their perspective of this game by speaking with a few of them. Introducing Jude Edward Fernandes and Roshan R, who brings in a combined expereince of over 9 years in this industry.
Q1. When and how did you get into this industry?
Jude – I was looking for jobs after my college when I came across a newspaper advertisement about the requirement of casino and poker dealers. I got selected after a test and was sent for training at Maharaja Casino. I initially worked in casino games where I got introduced to poker and got a chance to deal at the poker table. I am currently working at Deltin Royale poker room which I joined in 2012.
Roshan – I got into casino industry 2 years ago and after dealing at several casino games like blackjack, 5-card poker, 3-card poker, I was promoted to the Deltin Royale poker room. Now I deal on cash tables as well as in tournaments.
Q2. Do you like poker as a game and play?
Jude – Yes. Poker is a wonderful game and actually the most skillful card game. I play poker with my friends in home games.
Roshan – Yes. I enjoy this game playing with my friends and family. I am looking to try my hands at online poker someday.
Q3. What preparation do you do for bigger tournaments?
Jude – We are given special training before tournaments. These days I am working as chip master also which involves issuing sitting cards, handling chips, chipping up in breaks. So we practice and do mock-training before any big tournament in the poker rooms to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Roshan – The senior dealers out here as well tournament director instructs us on dealing in tournaments prior to the events as well as the tournament rules, structure and blind levels are explained to us. I also take care of my diet and daily exercises as we need to stretch our dealing hours during tournaments.
Q4. What are the ways you shuffle cards on poker table?
Jude – In poker we generally do 2 riffles, 1 poker strip and again a riffle. It’s the standard shuffling procedure for poker in casino.
Q5. How do experienced players differ from the newbies?
Jude – Experienced players behave very professionally on the table. They know all the rules of the game and hence play accordingly. New players get nervous and forget rules at times which we need to correct.
Roshan – New casino visitors as well as poker players who come for the first time either play casually or very cautiosly while professional players play focussed to win.
Q6. How has the poker industry developed in Goa over the years?
Jude – There were hardly any poker tables 6 years back. Only during tournaments, the whole set-up was done for poker. Now, over 10 poker tables run cash games regularly at Deltin Royale. Also, the tournament field has grown double compared to what it used to be 4-5 years back.