Insider reveals dark side of casino life

May 14, 2002 10:01 AM

From mob-run to corporate-run, casinos have changed little through the years for the dealers who observe human nature, often at its worst and sometimes at its best. They work the front lines, entertaining customers, putting up with pit bosses, and sometimes succumbing to the temptations of the hedonistic and materialistic world around them. Dummy Up and Deal: Inside the Culture of Casino Dealing fully describes, through short first-person narratives, what the life of a casino dealer is really like.

As author H. Lee Barnes says of these stories, "Some are accounts of my own experiences behind a table, but most incidents described here came directly to me from the lips of dealers in informal interviews or were passed across the tables in cafeterias or break rooms where dealers played cards, drank coffee and smoked, and told the stories that define their subculture. A very small number are stories passed around much like folklore." This narrative style allows for literary paraphrasing without compromising.

The vignettes are grouped in eight chapters that explore "breaking in," sex and sexual politics among employees and management, the fire-at-will policy, strange characters, cheating, the health costs on the dealer’s life, and addiction.

H. Le Barnes is a survivor and a veteran ”” of Vietnam and Vegas. Dummy Up and Deal will be available in hardcover for $22.95, or by mail from the University of Nevada Press. Call 1-877-NVBOOKS or visit