Casino pit bosses are often depicted as villains in movies - or at the very least the willing henchmen of villainous casino owners. Watch any Hollywood film set in a casino and you'll likely come across a scene in which the winning streak of a gambler is cut short by a worried casino pit boss by changing to dealers who cheat.
In real life, the job of a pit manager in a casino (also called a pit boss) is less dramatic but still every bit as complicated and demanding. They are primarily responsible for the operation of a pit, or a group of gambling tables, and have to make sure that dealers and supervisors are trained in operation of the games to which they are assigned.
Mark Preece, The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel's training manager for gaming, says pit managers should ensure that gaming integrity is not compromised during the casino's operation by adhering to casino rules, policies, procedures and government regulations at all times. They need to provide quality service to customers by making sure there are sufficient gaming tables to meet customer demand and comfort, and assisting those who have questions about the games or facilities.
Finally, pit managers are responsible for the career development of the dealers and supervisors under their charge, at times advising, mentoring and coaching them on ways to improve their gaming skills and offer career guidance.
"It's a challenging job," says Peter Tcheong, a former 11-year veteran pit boss at Hotel Lisboa Macau, who is now course co-ordinator at the Macao Polytechnic Institute's gaming teaching and research centre. This is especially so since the recent downturn has forced casinos to cut costs.
"In the old days, one pit manager would be in charge of only a few tables. Now, they have to supervise up to 16," Tcheong says.
Successful dealers move up to management
Pit managers usually start their career as dealers. Two years into their role, promising dealers may go on to become dealer inspectors or supervisors. Those with management potential will be promoted to pit managers after at least another two years.
Pit managers are paid about MOP$30,000 (HK$28,579) a month at Wynn Macau - which leads the market in salaries, and between MOP$22,000 and MOP$26,000 at other casinos.
Both the University of Macau's institute for the study of commercial gaming and the Macao Polytechnic Institute offer undergraduate programmes related to gaming.
The former also offers a diploma in casino management, while the latter runs short courses on topics such as dealer skills, slot machines operations and hospitality issues.
A cool head is required
Customer service is a priority for casino operators. This means pit managers need to be meticulous in order to satisfy the players' needs. Substandard service may discourage players from visiting the casino, which could severely affect casino profits.
A pit boss should be able to multitask and keep a cool head, especially since they will more than likely face multiple requests and demands from both their staff members and guests at the same time.