.An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Monday, March 7, 2011


When I was younger and working at Caesar’s Tahoe, players would sit down at my game and invariably the following question would come up. “What’s a nice girl like you doing working in a joint like this?” I would always look around me where there were rows of dealers just like me, fresh faced recent college grads trying to postpone adulthood as long as we could and Lake Tahoe, (America’s all year playground) is a great place to do it.  Over the years at one time or another most of us have left the casino business, but in the end the majority return. So let me tell you the top ten reasons for working in a joint like this.

  1. You get paid for playing games all day. Well you really don’t get paid much; the majority of your money comes from tips. So remember punters there is one person in the casino that wants you to win, and that person is the dealer. Because if you don’t win she won’t make tips and everybody likes to eat. There is nothing more exhilarating than sharing in a big win with a player.

  1. Every casino that I have ever worked in provides health insurance, because we are all going to get carpel tunnel from pitching cards for years.

  1. You can work any shift that you want to. Can’t stand sunlight, you just sign up to work the graveyard shift. A morning person, well day shift is for you. With casinos open 24 / 7, including the holidays there is a perfect shift for everyone. When dealers have children they don’t need child care they just work opposite shifts.

  1. Gambling is a growth industry. With more states and cities in desperate financial straits, they are turning to casinos. Fifty years ago there were casinos only in Nevada now according to Wikipedia there are casinos in 19 states.

  1. You can’t be outsourced. Someone does have to actually pitch those cards on a blackjack game. I know they have been working on perfecting a blackjack machine, but then you might as well just play the slot machines, Table game gamblers don’t trust machines. So we’re safe for awhile.

  1. You can get a job at almost any age. I have seen dealers in their sixties get hired. This is great because at some point most people in the casino get fired. But it is a small enough industry that you probably know someone in management somewhere, and they will juice you into a job.

  1. Free food is a great incentive. Most casinos I’ve worked in have provided free meals and drinks and if they do charge the cost is minimal. If going out to lunch costs $5 a day, then that is like a $25 raise every week. It can get even better, when I lived on a ship I also got free room and board.

  1. You don’t have to buy clothes, because your company will gladly provide you with a uniform. It will be ugly, it will be made of polyester, but it will be free.

  1. You get to live in nice places which is what got me into the business in the   first place. Besides Tahoe, I have lived on a cruise ship circling the world and  I now live in Palm Springs. My husband has worked in Moscow, London, the Czech Republic and the Bahamas.

  1. You get to meet celebrities. I am just thrilled whenever anyone from General Hospital plays on my game. Well, okay to me they are big celebrities. My husband dealt to Pamela Anderson and Kirk Douglas. Some of them are nice, but you soon realize that the rich and famous aren’t “all that.”

So the next time you play at a table you don’t have to ask, you will already know why that dealer is working there. Read my book Cruise Quarters - A Novel about Casinos and Cruise Ships if you want to find out what it is really like to work in a casino.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"
Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships


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