Alexandra Ionescu is a Romanian casino dealer, currently living in Varna, Bulgaria. She finished dealer school over 12 years ago. Soon after that, she became a croupier in the bustling city of Bucharest, Romania. She then took her dealing skills out to sea by joining a prestigious cruise company. Because of her dealer experience in both a busy land based casino and on many cruise ships, we have asked her to spare some time and answer a few questions for our esteemed blog followers.
Hi, Alex! Thank you for accepting our interview invitation.
Hello and thank you for the invite.
We have all been in the position of a player but what’s it like to be at the opposite side of the table at a casino?
To be honest, I have always loved being on both sides of the table. It kind of comes with the territory. But dealing… now that’s what I am really good at! Many times, I even find myself giving players advice on whether or not to take a card on blackjack or make a split, so I guess I am always a little bit of both.
How long were you a dealer?
I was a dealer for nearly 5 years, the first 2 in Bucharest and after that on the cruise ships. I think you never really stop being a dealer… even when you are sitting on the other side of the table.
Would you do it again?
I would always do this job, because it is exciting and I have always been really good at it. Time and a lot of practice is what makes dealers good, but to be honest this job is not for everyone.
You’re saying dealers get better with time and practice but don’t they also burn out fast and need to change jobs?
As far as changing jobs goes, most dealers do it because it gets exhausting at times, with all the different shifts, working on holidays and so on.
Why did you become a dealer and did the job justify your expectations?
I became a dealer because I wanted to go to Las Vegas, to work and live there. And I still haven’t given up on that dream. Being a dealer is a great way to make friends, but also a lot of enemies, so it’s pretty hard to say if it did justify my expectations or not. But I can tell you one thing, I don’t regret any of it.
A dealer must possess a special set of skills, e.g. be both professional and friendly, be able to make mental calculations quickly, be a multitasker. Which skills do you think are the most important ones?
They are all important, but most of all you need to be able to keep calm in stressful and sometimes dangerous situations. And yes, you need a quick mind and to be able to make fast mental calculations.
Now, let’s get into more specific stuff. What was your best experience while dealing?
Oh, there were so many, that it is hard to pick one. I used to love dealing Roulette, when I worked in Bucharest, because it is a very fast-paced and intense game. However, on the cruise ships, I had a group of Italians, from Sicily, and I dealt Texas Hold’Em for them, which just so happens to be my favourite game. But that is a story for another time.
Hm, you’ve got me interested. I guess we’ll have to invite you for a follow-up. So, how about your worst experience?
I have had plenty of those, too. But one of the most terrifying situations I found myself in was when a guy lost on the Roulette with me dealing and started choking me on the table. Fortunately, the person that was supervising the game jumped from his chair and intervened.
Oh, my! That sounds scary! As a croupier on many cruise ships, you must have seen the world. What’s your favourite destination?
I have seen a lot of the world, but I do have a few favourite destinations, such as St. Maarten and St. Thomas in the Caribbean, Malta and all of Italy. To be honest, Italy is my number one choice, thanks to the food, the great wine, the beautiful music and the happy people.
So, how do cruise ship casinos differ from land based ones?
Well, on cruise ships, people usually come to have fun, not so much to gamble. That is one of the biggest differences. And that reflects on everything, from the wagering limits, which are a lot lower, all the way to the player’s mindset. It is a lot less stressful to work as a dealer on cruise ships, than on land. Although I did miss the fast-paced games from Bucharest when I first joined the ships.
Our blog readers will be curious about the high roller experience and private rooms? What happens behind closed doors?
Many things happen behind closed doors and, truth be told, not all are good. But the games in the private rooms are the most exciting ones and I must admit that I miss the action. Often, high rollers smoke cigars and order all kind of foods, so sometimes the air gets a little bit hard to breathe. And I can tell you that big punters don’t take losing too well, which leads to some pretty intense situations. I could tell you stories that would make you hair stand on end. Once, one Chinese player threw a $10,000 chip at me, which missed my head by a millimetre. And those things are really heavy, because the inside of it is metal. Needless to say, I am so grateful he missed.
I see you’ve got some interesting inside stories as well. What about dealers as players. With the opulence all around them, don’t they get tempted to play?
Yes, most dealers also get hooked, some on Roulette, others on Blackjack or Slots. But Texas Hold’Em is my drug of choice and I have loved this game as soon as I started learning it. As far as gambling in land based casinos goes, it is absolutely forbidden for dealers, especially in the same town that they work in. So, we used to go to other cities to play or we would just settle for an Electronic Roulette in some nearby bar. Nowadays, I do my gambling online and when the Poker Gods favour me, I do pretty well.
Indeed, the best online casinos have everything you need. Thanks for being with us. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me! Just that this is a wonderful profession, but I always advise people to consider all the aspects of it before they start dealer school. If you are not a strong and balanced person, this job could end up getting the best of you. Leaving this aside, being a dealer is exciting and it has taken me to places that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise.