Service with a (gulp) smile

Jan 22, 2008 10:39 PM

By Howard Schwartz Special to GT | There are many keys to operating a successful casino, but one that’s perhaps overlooked is the importance of the cocktail waitresses, or as they’re now called, "beverage servers."

Anyone who gambles understands their importance. Not only do they bring free drinks to players, but they often serve as counselors or confidantes, and frequently offer a soft and enchanting shoulder on which to commiserate.

Not surprisingly, most cocktail waitresses make a very good living, especially considering that education and work history is of little importance.

For those employed in the casino industry or planning to join that workforce, whether at the gaming tables or in a restaurant or bar, the following books can help along the way and may prop up your tokes.

Sally Fowler’s one of a kind How to Become a Casino Cocktail Waitress: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Success in the Casino Industry (107 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $19.95) is must-reading for anyone hoping to break into this potentially lucrative field.

First published 25 years ago and updated in 1993, it remains must-reading because it starts with some crucial basic information such as the differences between serving in the craps or baccarat pit compared to the poker room or slot area before digging into the needed skills.

Fowler presents key survival techniques for making it through on your first day on the job, methods for taking care of your feet and for personal makeup and information about registering for work.

She goes into detail about the method you use when ordering your drinks from the bar. It is in the latter area – the types of drinks and dealing with the bartender that are essential areas and must be mastered, along with slang for drinks and suggested drink abbreviations – that make the book unique.

Casino Customer Service (The Win Win Game) by William Thompson and Michele Comeau (332 pages, paperbound, $19.95) was first published 15 years ago and nothing better has been done on the subject since.

It’s about training people to be friendly, teaching them the art of listening and the knack of problem solving and dispute settling and taking care of the customer who eventually pays the service person’s salary.

"Appropriate style of leadership" and "effective communication" with employees and customers are also covered amidst the goldmine of advice in 21 chapters.

Another key area is the use of laughter as a positive tool, along with eliminating stress and making the casino workplace a unique atmosphere for both supervisors and co-workers. It’s a must-read book for anyone planning a career in the industry or seeking solutions to sticky situations.

These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club). The store’s website is Or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.