Pit bosses are employed in the casino industry to supervise dealers and all other employees working in the "pit," the circular or oval area around which the tables are grouped. Not only does the pit boss keep a close eye on players and dealers to prevent fraud and dishonesty, she mediates disputes, interprets the rules of the various games, and trains dealers and other personnel. She is also responsible for doling out "perks" such as free hotel rooms or dinners to high-rolling patrons. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies pit bosses as "gaming supervisors" who earn a mean annual salary of $49,270 as of May, 2010.
Unlike dealers and other casino workers, a pit boss is prohibited from accepting tips or gifts worth over $25, so she receives a salary. Salaries in Las Vegas vary, depending on the size of the casino and the amount of experience the pit boss brings to the table. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies pit bosses in a broad category entitled "Gaming Supervisors," who earn a mean annual salary of $49,270 as of May, 2010.
David McKee of "Las Vegas CityLife" magazine claimed in a 2006 article that pit bosses at one of Las Vegas' larger casinos, the Wynn, make $60,000 a year. Supplemented with their share of the dealers' tip pool, the salary can rise to $90,000 a year. The union to which the dealers belong opposes the sharing of tips with pit bosses, claiming the practice violates state labor laws. The labor commissioner decided in Wynn's favor but appeals are ongoing as of the time of publication.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) offers a variety of courses to prepare students to enter the hospitality and gaming industries, including classes in management. Most of all, a pit boss must know the games she supervises and generally works her way up from dealing those same games. In Las Vegas, some schools teach a prospective dealer how to play and deal all of the various card games offered in the city. After several years of dealing, she may move up to the job of floor supervisor, shift manager or even directly to the position of pit boss.
The pit boss in a Las Vegas casino has a variety of duties. She is, first and foremost, a supervisor of the various employees in her pit. These include floor supervisors, hosts and dealers. Often you see the pit boss standing in the middle of the pit or circulating around the various tables. When there is a dispute at a table, it is the pit boss who explains the rules and deals with the patron. The pit boss tracks players that request such a service in order to provide "perks," such as free hotel rooms, dinners and other items, based on the amount of money and time the patron spends at the table. Depending upon the casino, the pit boss may train and schedule dealers and other floor personnel.
An aptitude in mathematics is an important skill for a pit boss. According to Bob Hannum of the University of Denver, author of a casino math guide for the UNLV Gaming Studies Research Center, "nothing plays a more important role than mathematics" in the casino environment. The successful pit boss possesses personal characteristics such as tact and self-control and the ability to maintain composure under difficult circumstances. She has integrity, conflict-resolution skills, is schooled in alcohol awareness issues and even psychology.