Ever wondered how to improve as a floor supervisor at a casino? Learn five tips and tricks for improving your floor supervisor skills from the VP of Floor Games at Hard Rock in this interview.
Heather: Hello and welcome to Vegas Aces livestream. I’m your host Heather Ferris and today I am interviewing Bennie Mancino. Hey Bennie! How are you doing?
Bennie: Hey Heather how are you doing?
Heather: Doing good thanks. Thank you so much for joining us.
Bennie: Thanks for having me on. I enjoy any time I can give back to the industry. It’s a good topic today.
Heather: Great topic today. Thank you again so much for sharing and everything. So can you tell a little bit more about yourself for the people that are watching, who might not know who you are, the livestreams and the podcast and everything that you do?
Bennie: Sure. Well I’m the Vice President of table games for Hard Rock international’s property in Cincinnati currently. I have been in the business for right around 30 years. I started like everybody else did. I started as a dealer and worked my way up the ladder. I was a floor supervisor, a pit manager and an assistant shift manager, and ladada all the way up to my current position. I have also been a corporate Vice President for a company called Jack entertainment until we did so well with the properties, two of them got sold and then I joined the Hard Rock which ironically is my second tour of duty for a Hard Rock property because I was at the Hard Rock Las Vegas for 12.5 years. I have been on the West Coast, I have been on the East Coast, I have been to local markets, I have been to regional markets, I have been to resort markets. So a lot of experience. I’ve seen a lot in that time. I do a blog on YouTube called Bintheknow because I am the “B Man” a lot of people call me the BMan or say “Hey B!” So Bintheknow and we talk table games and more. I try to do at least one a week. We have guest from the industry that – I have a pretty good network and we get out there and we talk table games. If you are an up and coming supervisor or something and you plan to be in my position, you gotta be in the know. So go there and subscribe, right? Heather! Subscribe, like, share, all them good things.
Yeah I started – I was a horse trainer in the midwest. My main owner died of cancer and I had 22 horse stable knocked me down to 4 and it was that type of economy that I couldn’t restart a business like that. So luckily for me my one owner run a casino night business. He – part of the deal to train one of his horses was for me to deal on the weekends for him. That’s what I did and then when the disaster struck in my life, I just didn’t feel like starting over in the horse business and I picked up everything. I had $5000 in cash, $5000 in debt, a car I didn’t own and I headed out to Vegas and became a dealer. The rest is history.
Heather: How old were you?
Bennie: I was, I think 28 when I made the move. So it was, yeah!
Heather: Cool. Can you tell people a little bit – so if you guys are watching, if you see this, if you want to follow Bennie, go to his YouTube channel and is it Bintheknow? Is that what they write to find your YouTube channel?
Bennie: Yeah you search by channel and if you put B in the know it will be the first one that comes up.
Heather: Awesome. Do you have any social media, Facebook, Twitter?
Bennie: I am on Twitter as the Tablegamesguy. I am also on LinkedIn. I don’t have a Facebook site except my personal site which I rarely go on. But LinkedIn is my main platform that I do a lot of my communication on so if you are out there and send me a connection request on LinkedIn then we will get hooked up.
Heather: Awesome! Sweet! Well thank you so much for going through that and telling everyone more about yourself. I know I would love to talk a little bit more with you about your horses, because I think that’s really cool that you do that.
Bennie: I still have horses, unfortunately. You know. If I don’t have horses I don’t have a wife, so I do have horses.
Heather: Well cool. So again you have been in this industry a long time and you have seen everything and have been at every level. So this is going to be really great for floor supervisors out there who are watching, who want to know. How do they get better? How do they – what do they have to do in order to improve themselves in that position?
Bennie: Well that – this is a great topic and a great question. I am so glad you had me on it because I am so opinionated. Everybody knows that. But I kinda tell things how it is. Sometimes they like to get me to shut up. I am going to tell this how it is. The floor supervisor floor position has changed a lot. It’s evolved over the course – you know when I was at the Hard Rock we were probably the first one where we seen that evolution. The floor supervisors main job back like, prior to mid 90’s was game protection. The dealer’s job was to dummy up and deal. So all this customer service we didn’t understand what – how important the time on the device and keeping the customer in the seat was. Right around the mid 90’s that changed. A couple smart people came along and understood how valuable that retention and that recurring business was. So we had to change the way – what the floor supervisor was. So at the Hard Rock we kinda put the model of the – we called it the Hard Rock way. And that’s what we did, we altered the way – so instead of making game protection 80% of your job, and 10% being customer relations, and 10% being employee relations. We changed that model a lot to where customer relations ended up being like 60% of your job, table games administration (order and fills and that) for 20% of your job, employee relations was 10% of the job. Game protection came way down at the bottom of that scale.
Now is it not important for supervisors to know how these games are attacked? Absolutely not. And the more you know – if you just want to have a 9 to 5 job and punch the clock, well you don’t need to know them things. Because you are just going to be ordinary. But I’m always – I always tell my people you have a choice in this life between being ordinary and being extraordinary. And I want everybody to be extraordinary. So how do you do that? How do you minimize the protection and provide what you need to do as a floor supervisor. Now once you move the next level past the floor supervisor, assistant shift, pit manager, whatever that level is wherever property you are at, well then you need to know a little bit more. The more you do that while you are a floor supervisor the better.
Your main job, let’s talk about is attention the guest. No. 1 is attention to the guest. The guest is what fuels the fire. They are the ones that pay the bills right? The more we can get people involved and create the relationships, the more return visits we are going to have. I will never forget how many times – my days at the Hard Rock were amazing. I had some great people around me. I don’t know how many guests would say, “Is Eddie working today?” Or “Is Joe working today? Or “Is Dave working today?” And they were talking about floor supervisors. They weren’t talking about dealers. Although the dealers had a great repore with the guests at the Hard Rock. We were the envy of everybody at one time. So attention to the guest. Establishing relationships is No. 1. I’d say that is very important.
So, how do we protect the game? I think the main thing that a floor supervisor in this day and age needs to know is basic strategy. Heather, you have a couple great videos on basic strategy. If you think about it, every way you attack a card game, of blackjack would necessitate a deviation from basic strategy. It doesn’t matter about raising the bet. Let’s say a guy never raises his bet, but he has an edge. He knows the cards are marked. He is still going to have to deviate his strategy. He’s not going to double down on an 11 when we knows the dealer is sitting there with a 20. Or double down an Ace 6 against a 6 if he knows the dealer has a 5 in the hold and sitting on an 11. There just – they are going to deviate – the main thing and protection that a floor supervisor in this day and age needs to know is basic strategy.
So then, sorta along the line of protection, No. 3 is a protective presence. When you lean on the podium and you stay in one place for the whole shift – I’m as a bad guy, going to commend – first thing I am going to scout the property. I am going to look around and I’m going to see who is watching their game, who’s moving, and who is staying put. If you are staying put here, I know I can attack you there. I always tell in all my game protection classes that if a disruption happens there, you better look here. Because that is a distraction to get you away from whatever is going on. A protective presence. You can’t hit a moving target. So you need to go around to all of your games. Which you should be doing anyway if you go back up to No. 1 being attentive to the guest. You have more than the beautiful girl with the black hair and the brown eyes. You have this ugly dude that kinda looks like me down at the end of the pit. He needs a little love too. You gotta keep moving right? Okay!
Heather: I have seen those floor supervisors where they stick around the one table because it’s the gorgeous women and then they ignore the rest of the pit. I have seen supervisors do that.
Bennie: Hey when I was 28 I might have been guilty of that. Yeah. I could tell you stories about that. But let’s forget that. Okay. Alright.
Now. No. 4 in my book of the five things that a supervisor – you need to know where the money is. If you don’t know – if you don’t keep a constant vigil of your rack, and the bank roll, you don’t know how much this customer, who we are trying to build a relationship with, left, or how much their average bet was. You are going to get the rating wrong. Right? So you gotta know where the money is. You gotta keep constant vigil on your rack and your bank roll. And you know whether your game is winning or losing. If your boss comes – first thing I would do if I come up and I ask anybody a question, I know the answer. If my boss comes up to me and says, “Hey what are we doing right now? I presume he knows what we’re doing right now. He just wants to know if I know. And that is exactly what your boss is going to do. He is going to come up and ask you a question. And if you don’t know where your rack stands or you don’t know whether a player is winning or losing, that’s not going to lead you to a stellar career. You gotta know where the money is. It is very important for the guest rating. You gotta get the guest right. The main complaint you get in a lot of places is that “I didn’t get rated right, I didn’t get rated right, I didn’t get rated right.” Well they can’t ever say that about you, if you know where the money is.
And my final of the five things that makes a good floor is to be a good coach and a good mentor. Well, how are you a good coach and a good mentor to the employees? Well you gotta know the rules of the game. If you don’t know the rules – I don’t know how many people will walkin into a carnival section, “Yeah I got this!” and then there is the biggest debacle in history over there because they don’t know the rules to a simple game of 3 Card Poker. They just don’t know. They don’t know that there’s really – your supposed an auntie bonus no matter what? Oh, Oh. Well you can’t do that! You can’t do that. So it’s all there that goes back up to No. 1 being attentive to the guest. You can’t have a good guest experience when there are mistakes and disruptions to that moment. You know they are all looking for that moment. They come to the casinos for an escape. So you gotta know your rules. You gotta know your rules.
And when you find a dealer that doesn’t know the rules or how to deal game to procedure, you gotta take that step and mentor them. If you don’t mentor them, they are not going to get any better. So you are going to go in there every day and you are going to go to your shift boss, “Oh man you putting Greg in my section again? Are you really doing that? You putting Greg in my section? I can’t stand watching him no more!” Ohhhhh what did you do about it? What difference did you make in Greg to make him better? That’s about it. That’s about the simplest. If you just want five. I can go into 25 but five – that’s going to make you a great supervisor if you can adhere to them five tips.
Heather: I hope you don’t mind if I just add a little bit to that. To the No. 5 one with the mentorship. Is’t that all – it’s the floormans job/responsibility to make sure that all dealers follow all policies and procedures at all times. And the reason is for game security? If the cameras see everyone doing everything the same at all times and if anything is off, or if anyone does anything differently the cameras will be able to see that right away and be able to spot that right away. Isn’t that the floor supervisor’s job as part of the mentoring step?
Bennie: You’re absolutely right! The consistency is what Michael Joseph said it best one time, worth the tip off to the rip off. I can look at a shoulder movement by a dealer and know he is doing a move he shouldn’t be doing. And the same thing with the cards, you know the cards need to be pip to pip, dadada. We can go on and on about what should be done. It is the floor supervisors to enforce the procedure. So is anybody in this – you know when we are watching eight games are we asking you to catch every mistake? And do – No! But when you obviously walk by and see a dealer violating procedure you gotta say something.
Heather: And you bring up a really good point. Back in the old days when I was dealing our floor supervisors would watch four games and no more than that. And now it is crazy where they are watching six, eight, ten games and it’s just – how do you do your job when you are pulled in so many different directions?
Bennie: Well your main job, like I said, is be attentive to the guest so we are going to have to lean on surveillance a little bit more than we did. If you’re not stationary, if you’re not a – you can’t hit a moving target. That – just that presence is going to keep most of the people who were going to cheat or take advantage away from your section. They can go over to Georges section over there. He’s standing over there talking to the cocktail waitress for 15 to 20 minutes. They don’t need to go there. But are you going to be able to catch every mistake? Are you going to be able to catch every person moving their bet? No. But when you are in the area and you notice somebody who just hit a 16 against a 6, you should get the idea, something is wrong there. No one hits a 16 against a 6. Yeah! Don’t be stationary. Do your best. Like I said the eight, the ten. My max is six. I don’t think I would probably – I would probably put up some pretty good resistance if anybody asked me to have my floor people watch more than six games. Not necessarily because of protection or whatever. Protection is out the window at six. But that attention to the guest will disappear at eight and at ten it’s totally – I walked into Planet Hollywood one time, and a guy was watching 12. I was just blown away. There is nobody – I just talked to – I was on Are you comped? And I spoke about this, which probably my boss didn’t like – but I am saying the floorman is’t there. They come back and say hey what is my average bet? And the guys said, “Well it was like 25.” You say, “No, no I bet 35.” He wasn’t around your game for an hour and a half, so he’s probably going to give you that $35 and call it a day. And you got all that extra comp value. It’s just the way it goes.
Heather: Yeah. That’s a good point. When you’re talking about attentiveness and were talking about giving attention to the guest, could you give a couple examples of how the floor supervisor could do that? And I’m going to give one example, but this is seriously old school. My floor supervisor had a little blakbook that he kept all of the players’ names in, what they liked, what they didn’t like. If he knew someone that would come up and was playing every day, he would make sure he had their comped cigarettes ready for them and everything. It was just small little things like that that made the players come back day after, after day. Do you have any examples that the people can use?
Bennie: You give the perfect example there. So now we are talking about relationships right? So something has been established. You will get into a conversation and a guy says, “Yeah my kid just turned 16, I just bought him a car and I am kinda nervous about it.” So next time that guest comes in you say, “Hey Gary!” Use their first name. “How did it go with your kids, didn’t you buy them a car?” And the guy will be shocked. OMG this guy was really listening to me. He is my friend. Then he will come back and say, “Yeah, it turned out alright. The kid really did well on his first time driving the car.” Now you have sealed a bond that is going to last forever. It’s just going to go on, and on, and on, and on. And that’s good.
Let’s just say you don’t know somebody. Well the best way to do it, you get the rating card and you got their name right there. You immediately say, “Hey Bill, how are you doing? Thanks for playing at the Hard Rock.” And you know, I usually use this when I was a casino manager to diffuse a situation. However it can be used in conjunction with relationship building with a floor supervisor. I will never forget one time that I was – any time that I was called to the cash or cage at the Hard Rock it wasn’t a good thing. What that meant – there was a guest complaint there. The casino shift manager, they handle every complaint. It didn’t matter if it was from cocktails or whatever. They handle them all. So when I got there, I would know it would be a bad situation. So my trick was as I am approaching a cage – you know at the Hard Rock Las Vegas, our name tags didn’t say shift manager, it just said Bennie. The guy didn’t know who I am while I am walking up there. I see this guy and man his face was red as fire, and I could tell he was mad. I was like oh boy this is going to be a tough one. And he turned around and he had a Texas Longhorn shirt on and I seen him and before he could say a word I said, “Hey man how about those horns! Man they are really kicking.” I didn’t have any clue whether the Longhorns are having a good year or not. I just faked it until I made it. This guy was an immediate Bromance. We are doing all this and then we start talking fo a minute and a half. Then I say, “Hey I am Bennie Mancino and I am the shift manager and I heard you got a problem.” He looked at me with like the dumbest, dead face stare. Oh then he says, “Oh many it’s no big deal, forget about it.” To this day I didn’t know what his problem was. He was so taken away. So I taken him from his worst moment that he could be in. The anger, rage, whatever to his special place was the Longhorns. So there again why I referred that story, because I love that story – anyways if you got a player come on and they have a Hard Rock hat on. “Hey man do you go to a lot of the Hard Rocks?” They have an Indians hat on, “Hey how’s the tribe doing tonight?” Or something like that. There is always something on somebody’s body. “I love those earrings.” That’s what you - -the guys really a plain Jane you are going to a a little trouble. There is always something there to get yourself to break that ice. When we talked about the Hard Rock way, way back when, one of our key tips was ice breaking. That’s a way to get the relationships started.
Heather: That’s a good way to do it. I like that. That’s really awesome. Cool. So that sounds fantastic. We went through all five tips and everything. I think we are going to need to have you back to go over the next 20 tips. I hope you don’t mind.
Bennie: We can just have – yeah book one, book two, book three, right?
Heather: Is there anything else you want to tell floor supervisors before you go? And then we will do another round of your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube channel and all that fun stuff.
Bennie: You know what? I know there are a lot of people out there still furloughed, a lot of jurisdictions haven’t restated, and some of the properties that haven’t started, just know that there are jobs out there. I did a little piece, if you go to Bintheknow you are going to see about, “What if Las Vegas Closes.” I don’t think Las Vegas is closing but what if you have to make that decision to leave and go on. There’s a lot of floor supervisor positions that pay very good money, outside. Sometimes it’s hard to go. Each person’s situation is different where they are at with their family or what they have going on. But something to consider. I tried to unpack some of the mysteries of going to another jurisdiction and how to make that decision. Because it –
Heather: What is the name of this video so people will go to your YouTube channel and they will look at what video?
Bennie: I think it was named “What if Vegas Closes.” I think it was “What next?” That’s what it was. So it’s kinda tips and where to go next if you decide to make that move. So it would be interesting definitely for a floor supervisor who is sitting on the sidelines right now.
Heather: Yeah. I’ve – same thing. I know several dealers and floor supervisors who are looking for a job and Las Vegas isn’t hiring at the movement because they laid off 100% of their workers and when they hired back they only hired back 50%. So they are still trying to hire back the other 50%. Is Hard Rock hiring right now?
Bennie: We are probably – we are really good at Cincinnati. We are always looking for experienced craps dealers and we always have a couple fultime spots open for that kind of person who has multigaming skills. I can’t say it because my dealers would lose their mind if I put the toke amount out there but let me tell you what, the Hard Rock Cincinatti does as well as a lot of the strip properties, maybe better. We do a lot of things to promote the toke rate there and if you want to be good to the guest, and you have multigame skills, reach out to me and we will see what we can do and get you in there. There is – same thing as the – there’s a lot of good paying jobs outside the midwest. You just have to watch about cost of living, right? People get caught up in hearing big numbers and toke money, but they don’t realize that the cost of living is double. So just to give you an example I said in the video if Las Vegas Closes, I had a kid come form Maryland Live and I offered him $4000 less and he was like, WOAH I can’t take that. I said, “Man, I am actually giving you a raise.” Because the comparison between Cincinnati and DC is quite dramatic. So $29,000 in Cincinnati equates to $50,000 in DC. Know where you are going. Check it out. There are a lot of resources now. It ain’t like when I decided to fill up the gas tank and go to Vegas. There’s a lot of resources out there to help you make that decision on whether to stay or go.
Heather: Okay. And then I have a question real quick from an audience member. Dan says, “Do you teach new supervisors if they don’t know a specific game like baccarat?”
Bennie: Oh we do. We offer classes, whether you are a supervisor or a dealer, we teach you whatever you need to know to further your career. So, we offer almost every game at least once a year, and some of the more in demand games like baccarat – baccarat is usually three times a year. We teach a baccarat, pai gow class.
Heather: Nice. That sounds good. Yeah I know you – whatever casino you are at you are always really big on teaching them and that is huge for the people that work under you. Thank you on behalf of them.
Bennie: I got an awesome trainer at this property and anywhere I go I mean that is the first thing I am going to try to establish is a strong training program because that is the only way you get – I want people to prosper. Knowledge is king. And especially in table games in the casino industry.
Heather: Yep. And speaking of which, where can people find more knowledge? Where can they find you? Where can they find your information, your videos, how – give us your information.
Bennie: So on YouTube I can be found at bintheknow. You have to do a channel search too – I’m not that big like Heather where you just log on and there are five pictures of her and that’s what I get when I log on. Her and the wizard have taken up all the YouTube space and nobody else can get any. Anyways do a channel search for beintheknow. If you go to LinkedIn and you put in my name, I am going to blow up. If you put in a Google search, you’re probably going to see a lot of my name popup in several places. I’m on Twitter. I’m not very active on twitter but I think my LinkedIn is linked to the twitter page so any time I do anything terrific on LinkedIn it will also share it on Twitter. No Facebook, no Instagram. But yeah! That’s how you get a hold of me.
Heather: Awesome! So if you guys can go check Bennie out. Go subscribe to his YouTube channel, follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Bennie I am really looking forward to all the content you are going to put out there in the future.
Bennie: Thanks Heather!
Heather: Thank you again! I really appreciate you being on and thank you for joining us.
Bennie: Take care!
Heather: You too. See Ya!
According to the VP of the Table Games at Hard Rock, the top five tips and tricks for upping your floor supervisor game are:
- Pay attention to the guest.
- Understand basic strategy.
- Have a protective presence.
- Know where the money is.
- Be a good coach and mentor.