Tax issues for professional gamblers - Journal of Accountancy

[Table] I AMA Card Dealer on the Las Vegas Strip. Let's talk Vegas.

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Date: 2012-03-23
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Have you ever spotted a black jack "crew"? Or seen a "crew" taken out by the casino? I've seen people TRYING to be a "crew." Most people who think they can count cards, can't. Right after that movie 21 came out the casinos were flush with confused college kids whispering to each other, "What's the count again?"
What's it cost to get a hooker to do anal? Honestly, I have no idea. You can e-mail the prostitutes in Pahrump before going in and they would tell you if they offer the service and how much it would cost.
Also, great username.
Do you have blackjack basic strategy down by heart? if so, and I just want to play that way, will you tell me what to do? are you allowed to tell me what to do if I just ask? Related question: do you keep a count of the cards yourself? if so are you good at predicting when a counter is going to make their big bets? Yes, I have basic strategy memorized and some dealers are allowed to assist players, it depends on the casino. I only keep count if I'm bored or I suspect someone else on the table is counting.
My brother-in-law, Bob, was in Las Vegas last week. What did you think of him? Bob was a delight for everyone and a generous tipper. We'd love to have him back again.
If I were to make a trip to Vegas, how would enabling the Wild Wasteland perk affect my travels? I've heard some people say it's what the experience should be in the first place and others say it's just stupid. Enabling Wild Waseland turns the Wild Wild West Casino into a casino based on the Wild Wild West movie adaptation starring Will Smith; I don't recommend it. Plus the walls get all clippy.
What is the deal with counting cards? Is it easy to spot? If so, do you get a lot of amateur card counters trying to do this or cheat in other ways, and what is the normal course of action? Thanks! Very few people actually try to cheat here. Spotting card counters is all in the way that they bet. It's a certain formula with very few methods of deviation so if they don't follow it strictly it doesn't work so nobody is worried about the amateurs. If a dealer suspects someone of card counting, they report it to their pit boss who then watches the game. If the person IS thought to be card counting they are simply denied service at the casino.
What happens if you drop a chip on the ground while dealing blackjack or roulette or some other game? Would you bend down to pick it up or is the risk that someone would take the chips on the table too great? If a chip is dropped I'll call the floor supervisor over to retrieve it. Yes, the reason is to protect the chip rack.
If you were desperate for money, and you had to find a way to take, say, $250,000 out of a casino, what would your plan be? Is there anything you think you could actually get away with? There's too many security guards, surveillance, and key cards to take it in cash. It's not Ocean's 11 security but they know what they're doing. The only other option would be to steal chips but the large denomination ones are RFID tracked so that would be a bust as well. I'd have a better success rate applying for a loan at the bank.
You ever run into any damned NCR? No, this particular stretch of wasteland is ruled by Caesar.
What's your favorite game to deal? Blackjack is my personal favorite. There's a bit of an art to it that I enjoy. We ARE allowed to cut someone off but it's still a little frowned upon.
Are you allowed to cut someone off if they obviously have a problem stopping when they should, like a bartender cutting off a lush? We can also cut people off from drinking, like bartenders.
Can you explain a little more? Is it just that it's hard to tell a guy who's just lost a lot of money from a guy that has just mortgaged his house a third time? The 3rd mortgage story is actually pretty rare. Most gamblers are actually quite good with money. But there are signs we look for to spot problem gambling patterns and direct them to appropriate help.
What other games do you deal? I'm a former croupier. I deal all the games. I used to get high limit black Jack a lot, because I was young, cute and pleasant. That meant more tips and less marks. However, I always had more fun in low level games. I'd take $5 black Jack over hand held baccarat any day. Thoughts? I deal all of them as well, although I'll admit craps is not my forte. I'm always impressed with the ones who do it well. I prefer low-level stakes myself. Baccarat's a hellishy boring game to deal.
What are the signs you look for? Multiple trips to the ATM is one. Suddenly gambling much larger amounts of money is another. Referred to as going "on tilt."
So full tilt would mean gambling large sums? If so, TIL. It's a term more commonly used in poker but yeah, that's what it means.
What's the most you have seen someone win in one hand/night? The biggest I've seen in one hand was a bad beat jackpot dealt in the poker room. The winner left with a little over 250,000 dollars.
What's the etiquette when you make a mistake? I was in Vegas recently playing poker and someone innocently took an extra dollar back from the pot, so the dealer didn't return my small blind. I told him, he said the pot was right, I said I put $6 in and it was $5 total to call, he said I took $1 back, I said I didn't, we go back and forth, he makes some personal remark about my being bad at math and how could the pot be right, I make some personal remark about it not being my job to police the pot and him being bad at his job. Eventually he offered to call the floor but the guy who took the extra dollar gives it to me so no floor is called. What's the correct way to handle this type of situation? If you think a dealer has made a mistake you are correct in telling him immediately. The floor should be called if the situation isn't immediately solved. If the money in question is a small amount (say a dollar or two) then the house usually neutralizes the dispute by putting in the missing money. Larger amounts would go through surveillance though.
Vegas is a magic place to me. I love it so much and I'm planning on moving their in my late twenties or thirties, can you tell me what it's like to live in Vegas instead of just visit? Also, how did you get the job of a card dealer? Locals actually have quite a few perks. Some strip clubs, dance clubs, shows, and etc. have a locals discount or "industry night." The Vegas lifestyle is available to the locals at a cheaper rate but just remember not to do it every day. To get a job as a dealer I filled out an application, passed an audition. Simple as that.
What's the residential part of Vegas like? I've only ever seen the popular areas, Fremont and the Strip, or the deserts. And as far as the heat, I live in west texas and I love working in the dry heat. It's mostly apartment buildings and gated communities alternated by strip malls and bars. The best bars are off the strip, in my opinion.
When were you hired? What games did you have going in on your resume, what did you audition for? I was hired for my current job in late 2010. I had all standard table games on my resume and I was auditioning for poker. Resume's aren't as important in dealing as the audition. If you've been dealing for 30 years and you mess up during the audition, they're going to go with the guy with only 1 year of experience who aced it.
What is the largest tip you have received at the table? Is it possible to pick up a casino employee or is that frowned upon? The largest tip I've received was 600 dollars. I saw a player toss a cranberry (5k) chip to a dealer once. Tips are a big "X" factor for your income and if you're not working at a casino full time it can be difficult to budget.
I'm sorry, I completely missed your second question. Picking up a casino employee is possible and not really frowned upon. Don't expect much from the girls dealing in the "party pits" though.
Can roulette dealers really drop the ball within a number or two? Do you work at a newer casino or an old one? I miss the sports book at the Frontier. How long have you been at this? No, roulette dealers cannot do that. Roulette wheels are checked for bias electronically and any suspicious patterns would attract attention. I've work/ed at newer casinos and older ones. I prefer the character of the older houses but I think the Aria is amazing. I've been dealing for about 10 years now.
I was playing blackjack at the Hard Rock a few years ago when a couple of prostitutes joined the table for awhile, trying to strike it up with my brother and me. They eventually gave up and left. The dealer told us he referred to these girls as "rack rats" because when they are successful, it hurt the house take (chips accumulating in his rack). Is that a general term, or just this dealer's lingo? I've personally never heard it but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a common term. Gaming slang is a lot of rhyming and alliteration. I'd much appreciate it if the whole world would please stop saying "Winner, winner Chicken Dinner."
I'm going to Vegas in a couple of months and I love magic. What are some of the best magic shows to go to and how far in advance should I buy tickets? By far the best magic show, in my opinion, is Mac King's show at Harrah's. Simple, but amazing illusions in an intimate-sized theatre and very funny. Penn & Teller are great as well. The tickets can be picked up for a discount at ticket booths around the strip the day of the show. The kiosks are called Same-Day Tickets or Half-Price Tickets and are a good value. Stay away from the Criss Angel show. It's terrible.
Why is Criss Angel terrible, in your opinion? He spends most of the show posing instead of doing magic tricks. I don't think Criss Angel is terrible, just his Vegas show.
Have you ever met a pornstar with hugely enhanced breasts? Like Kayla Kleevage, Minka, or Claudia Marie? No, but I have met a few pornstars out here. They're generally nice people, although it's always been in relaxed social situations.
How... 'relaxed'? At bars or private/home games. I've never met any at events like the AVN awards.
I have 200 Dollars for the night. What things to do will last the longest / provide me with the biggest value / return (average-common sense) - sights,places,activities ? Depends, are you gambling at all?
Yes, Blackjack ? And Roulette maybe ? But I was thinking in the lines of sites / clubs... If you're going to play low-limit table games you're probably going to want to go downtown to Fremont Street. Set aside about 40 dollars apiece and play the minimum that the table allows. If you want to see a show there are kiosks around the strip and in many casinos that offer discounted tickets for shows on the current day. Clubs are expensive to get into (30 dollars is about average) and the drinks are quite expensive as well (10 dollar beers and god help you if you order anything remotely fancy).
If I won 1 million dollars at the casino would the casino report that to the IRS? Yes, you'd have to sign a tax form similar to a W-2 to receive the money. Depending on how much you'd gambled in the past year you'd have to pay about 30 percent of it to taxes.
The correct form is a W-2G, where they should automatically mail/give you at the end of the year. It tells you all sorts of other fun details as well, such as what kind of wagebet you made, among other details. That's the one. Taxes isn't really my end of the gaming machine.
What's the biggest sucker thing you can do in vegas? I've heard that slot machines are actually terrible odds but people play them anyway... so what are the stupidest ways you can lose your money? Gambling is generally the quickest way, and slots are the worst but I think some of them are pretty cool. I'm someone who likes flashing lights and noise. Many new penny slot machines have been arriving with preset minimum bets like 25 credits but they pay out odd amounts. This usually leads to a player leaving 19 cents or so on the machine and walking away. There's people who just spend all day wandering from casino to casino looking for unclaimed spare change on the machines. It can be lucrative.
Im going to vegas soon with my girlfriend. Im only going to be there 2 nights and a day and a half. What is something romantic or exciting that most tourists dont know about? The hiking in Red Rock Canyon is great although you'd need a car. First Fridays down in the arts district is always fun. There are countless shows (stand-up comedy, theatre, etc.) off the strip. If you're unsure of what to do in a particular stretch of time and need ideas pick up a Las Vegas Weekly. They're available for free all throughout town.
Is this a local law, or something? Or does it have something to do with cost? I don't know but I suspect it's cost-related. Most table games have a 5 dollar minimum bet with a dealer to keep action moving. An undercover cop on the slots could control the pace. I think it's a waste of money either way.
Um..why wouldn't the casino cooperate and just give them house chips to bet with and then give them back? Also can you please tell me a good book to learn basic blackjack strategy (I don't like to always sit in front of a computer) No, the possibility of fraud is far too high to give away money. There really isn't such a thing as "house chips." There are non-denominational chips that are used in roulette as well as specialty chips used for tournament-style play but use of those would blow the cop's cover, obviously. Also, as long as the hookers aren't pestering every player they come across, the casinos don't really mind them so much. They'll need a bed eventually. To learn blackjack strategy (or really any casino game) I'd actually recommend sitting in front of the computer a wee bit longer and visiting wizardofodds.com. It's a great resource for gambling smart.
What's the most interesting thing that you've ever seen? That's a big question. It's all VERY interesting. You'll have to be a little more specific.
Has anyone ever made a scene over losing a large amount of money? As a dealer, you develop quite thick skin. People will call you names and curse a lot but very few actually cause much of a scene. If a scene is caused, security is usually called and they usually eject them.
I am going in a couple days with some friends. However, I don't know how to play any of the table games. Do you know any good sites/videos to learn games like poker for a beginner like me? Actually, many of the major casinos offer free classes that teach you how to play, usually in the mornings from 9-11 am. Many casino games can seem confusing or intimidating. My advice would be to take the free lesson and, if it seems fun, don't be afraid to throw a few bucks on the real thing. Just don't spend all your time in the casinos.
What's the etiquette for requesting tips? I had a lucky night at the blackjack table and the dealer was being an asshole telling me my "generosity has been outstanding" is it harder work for me to win? fuck that guy. amiright? You are right. Tips are voluntary and even if we suggest it, we do it in a way that makes you think it's your idea. Some dealers have no tact and that's sad.
Is it not considered rude to ask a guest to tip though? Yeah, it is but some still resort to it since many people don't know. Most guests that aren't accustomed to tipping will tip after realizing it's the social norm ("when in Rome") but if coerced into tipping will not be likely to later.
Are tips pooled? Do you rotate tables? I imagine the tables with larger bets get bigger tips. Tips are earned on a table-to-table basis when you deal cash games in poker. Table games (everything else requiring a dealer) generally pool tips and divide them equally on a 24-hour timeframe. All dealers rotate into all games (except for Poker, which is usually a completely separate department) at one point or another. Unless there's a generous high roller most of our money comes from the more numerous, smaller tips from low-limit games.
How does it work with high rollers? Do they carry the cash they bet with? For example, if someone's playing a $500 minimum bet table, I would assume they'd buy in for 10 to 20 bets worth of chips. Do they really just throw 5-10 grand down on the table? And then you call out "Changing ten thousand" and proceed to show every bill to the camera, turn it over, lay it down (and probably cover the entire table 2-3 times over) and then stuff all 100 $100-bills into the cash box? Or do they establish some sort of credit with the casino and just get chips based on that? They usually get a line of credit for the higher stakes players, yes but you'll occasionally get the high roller that throws up a few grand on the table in cash. I've seen more than a few people carrying 10k bundles around. There's a guy who plays poker down on Fremont Street called The Duke of Fremont Street (you don't say?!) who carries around a violin case full of cash, gold, and gold money clips stuffed with cash. Some people just like the attention.
Besides the line of credit they often have deposits at the cage where they get their chips or wired it in before they plan to enter a casino. Correct me if I'm wrong, MrVegas. You speak the truth.
Do you like Fallout? Sure do. Big fan of the games. The map of New Vegas is somewhat accurate although not to scale, obviously.
What is considered a decent tip at a table? Took a reasonable amount of money from the Cosmo a few months ago. I'm a cheap ass who didn't intend to gamble much and finished my trip playing $25 per hand blackjack. If you were my dealer, I hope my tip was appropriate. Most poker dealers will get a dollar a hand as a tip. Since poker isn't a house game that tip isn't necessarily a "thanks for the lucky hand" but more of a "thanks for moderating the poker game." If you're playing 25 dollars a hand and you are dealt a blackjack, the blackjack will pay 37.50. A common tip on that would usually be the 2.50 but we appreciate a dollar tip/bet. Anything over 5 dollars (that isn't a high-stakes game) would be considered generous.
Fuck you let's not talk vegas. So tell me. What do you think of ohio? I've never been there. The astronauts seem to hate it though.
What did you think of Nick Papageorgio? That guy from Yuma who works in software? Nice guy. My friend fitted him for a suit once. Although I heard he stole some tourist wallet once.
Have you ever seen a person or group of people successfully count cards and leave with a profit? Or are they all losers? I've seen it done to varying degrees of success, it's just not very common anymore, at least in Las Vegas. Most card counting groups operate in smaller Indian Casinos where the dealers are less likely to be trained against it. Opening a brand new casino in an area new to gaming is like ringing the dinner bell for card counters.
Do you have herpes? No. Condoms are widely available in Las Vegas and encouraged.
Is a royal flush really that rare? The odds of a video poker machine dealing you a royal flush on the deal is a little under 650,000 to 1 (happened to me once). As a poker dealer, I've dealt four in 10 years, although I've run into dealers who've gone their whole careers without dealing one.
You mentioned that you have been a dealer for 10 years. Do you see yourself doing this until you can retire or do you see yourself moving up? If you want to move up, what do you want to do eventually? I could easily see myself doing this for awhile. It's fun, easy money and casinos are the best places in the world to people watch. If I moved up I'd probably like to teach dealers. I view dealing as somewhat of an art form and I'd like to reteach the "right" way.
Is card dealing a specialty? In other words, have you never worked craps or roulette? I'm always amazed at how craps dealers can keep track of everything at a busy table. Pretty much everyone is called a dealer whether they actually "deal" anything or not. I have worked craps and roulette as well. I'm kind of bad at craps, I'm sorry to admit but roulette's fun.
What's the deal with the garish, ugly carpets you see in casinos? I think many of them are just trying to unique. When you line them up right next to each other one mega casino is pretty identical to the next so they have to out-gimmick each other in every way. Also, many casino's carpet is actually coded to indicate areas where minor are and aren't allowed. There's usually a yellow brick road of sorts to registration and elevators.
Ok, if you see someone thrusting hard, what do you do? I hope what they're thrusting into is enjoying the attention and I leave them to their business. I'm not sure what you were asking here...
Are there any films that have accurately portrayed what your business is like? Not really, in my opinion. I honestly think it could be a decent (can't believe I'm saying this) reality show but the corporations that own the casinos would never let us speak frankly.
What kind of cards do you use, bicycle?, a deck specific to the casino?, or something completely different? Most casinos use Kem or Copag cards for poker. Anyone who plays cards at home should pick some of these up. They're pretty difficult to mark, bend resistant, and they're perfect for parties. You can wash them in the sink! Blackjack and other card-based table games generally use custom cards made for the casino. I've never really paid attention to what brand they are since they're changed out so often.
My wife & I are going in a few months. (4 days/3 nights). I plan on playing/losing ~$100 on roulette and avoiding the card games. We are mostly going for shows (I'll check out those booths you mentioned) & food. One of the days I plan to send her to a spa and I want to check out some sport related gambling. Where is the best place for sports betting? Is there live betting (quick bets as in : Will Verlander strike the next batter out?) I've always thought the LVH (the old Hilton) has a really nice sports book and their odds have always been fair. The kind of live betting you're looking for is usually the kind of action you'll get from the other patrons in the sports book. The casino doesn't have time to set odds on that short of notice.
What's the deal with craps? I went on a cruise and they had a video on casino games on a continuous loop and i'd watch the craps session over and over and still not get it. i also went on a little mine-class in the casino, was still drawing blanks. is there a "Explain to me like i'm 5" with craps. Craps is confusing because the objective of the game changes so frequently and the odds are somewhat strange. Unless you want to go in-depth with game strategy I'd suggest putting your money on the pass line and throwing the dice until they tell you to stop. Not the best advice, I know, but I'm not a huge fan of craps.
I'll be in Vegas this June, what are the best night clubs? Is it best to buy tickets for the clubs and shows before hand or just go with the flow once I'm there? It's a little pricey to get in (40 dollars last time I was there, if memory serves me correctly) but the Moon nightclub at the Palms Hotel is pretty damn cool. Open air at the top of the building. I'd buy the club tickets in advance since they're usually the same price. Half-price ticket booth the day of the show you want to see.
What is the best local restaurant in Vegas? Like, residential area restaurant. The Asian food out here is great. The Chinatown District on Spring Mountain is packed with awesome food. Just pick one.
I am going to Vegas for my first time in a couple of weeks. Any tips, advice, where is the most fun to be had for the lowest price? Thanks for doing this AMA! There are lots of groupons available for Las Vegas. The pinball museum is a cheap way to burn an afternoon.
Also -is there a proper etiquette when playing with other people (eg Don't hit when a dealer has a bust card), or is it every man for himself? Proper etiquette is to shore up your hand against the dealer's without harming the other players. Hitting when the dealer is showing a bust card has started more than a few fights that I've seen. Practice basic strategy and try to make sure you're playing with people who do the same.
Swingers club? The two popular swingers' clubs are The Green Door and The Red Rooster. Ladies get in free (of course), single men pay a pretty high cover charge, and couples get in for half price. They're... interesting places to meet people.
If someone is counting cards but is also a generous tipper, do you let him get away with it a little longer? Tipping is one way of diverting attention and, yes, it does work. However, as I stated elsewhere, card counters have to adhere to certain rules and formulas regarding their wagers. They've made blackjack a business and tipping is bad for business.
What are some tips to get casino comps? Also what is your favorite buffet in Vegas? (We go to Vegas for the food and right now our Favorite is the Bellagio) Ask for them. The biggest thing is shyness. There's a lot of people gambling in a casino at any given time so if you want your play to be evaluated for comps, simply tell the dealer or floor manager. I don't eat at the buffets too often.
Do you prefer I give you straight tip or put your tip down as a wager? Alternating them isn't a bad way to go. Or you can always ask the dealer.
What's the strangest thing you've ever seen while dealing? Wilford Brimley calling me a cocksucker.
How much do you make per year? It varies, of course. It averages out to around 38-46k. I'm not a rich man but I enjoy the hell out of life.
Is it worth doing a hooker? That's up to you man. I know people who've had bad experiences with them and I've had people who've had great experiences. Not all hookers are diseased and misguided. Some are business-minded and know that they're offering a service and do so professionally.
What do you think about older smaller casinos. Have you been to the tropicana lately? I enjoy a lot of the smaller places. The Clarion is a great locals hangout and so is the Greek Isles. I was at the Trop yesterday. They recently remodeled almost the whole place. Looks great.
I heard the casinos make applicants take a hair test before getting hired...is this true? Yes, you need to pass a drug test (usually hair) to get hired at nearly all casinos. It's only the one unless you do a union job though.
So when it comes to poker, "tight is right"? I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Could you elaborate?
Thank you for counting my cards when I'm a little slow. You're welcome. You're there to have fun, not to do simple math all day.
I hear there are hookers in Vegas. How much would it cost for the hooker and I to get naked, except for sailor hats. Then we get into a Jacuzzi filled with Pepto-Bismol, and I clip her toenails while she shaves my buttocks. 3000 dollars.
Prostitution is illegal here in Clark County. Just felt like pointing that out. I couldn't resist the Rat Race reference. Yes, prostitution is illegal, BUT you can drive about 45 minutes west to Pahrump and get a legal hooker at a brothel.
Dont a question for you, but this was the best AMA I've read in months! Funny answers, and detailed answers for the serious questions. Thanks. This is pretty fun, I've got to say. This is my first AMA and I genuinely like informing and entertaining people. It's probably why I love my job.
Yes, I'm referring to the playing style. Either you place "loose" and play a lot of hands. Or you play "tight" and play far less hands, the best hands. Poker strategy is slippery and no one credo or saying is right. If you're a beginner it's best to play a little more conservatively but you'll need to able to change gears eventually.
Unless he was controlling a single deck with both hands, never. Right answer.
10% Generous/Grateful 5% A welcome but standard tip 1% Depending on your attitude towards me, may have been an insult, or just a cheapo. Never feel like a tip is an insult. I make nearly my entire living by people tipping me one dollar at a time. "Cheapos" pay my bills.
I've personally never heard it but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a common term. Gaming slang is a lot of rhyming and alliteration. I'd much appreciate it if the whole world would please stop saying "Winner, winner Chicken Dinner." Also, the savvy prostitutes will only pick up guys from table games. Vice cops can play slots undercover to try to lure in hookers but can't play table games.
Last updated: 2012-03-28 10:18 UTC
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Professional gamblers' decadelong streak of being able to deduct a net loss from gambling as a trade or business was ended this year by P.L. 115-97, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).Although a relatively minor facet of the wide-ranging tax reform package, the TCJA's amendment to Sec. 165 overturning a 2011 Tax Court decision and 2008 IRS memo is momentous for taxpayers who Gambling on sports has never been more high-stakes or more accessible. But with the invasion of Europe-based companies in the game, the pros are feeling squeezed and routinely getting banned from In the case of a professional gambler you may be able to save some money because you will be permitted to deduct your betting losses by the Internal Revenue Service. nipping illicit gambling activities and businesses in the bud more than $150 billion is spent by Americans on illegal sports betting. Although sports betting is prohibited A professional gambler pursues gaming full time and with great regularity. The professional gambler makes a good faith effort to generate income for a livelihood. Their gaming is no hobby. Someone claiming to be a pro gambler has the burden of proof to make that claim. One’s approach to gambling is considered. Professional gamblers . If you are a full-fledged, professional gambler who depends on gambling winnings as a livelihood to pay bills and put bread on the table, you report winnings (and expenses, such as meals, lodging, transportation, food) on Schedule C, Form 1040.

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