How to Pitch a Deck of Cards
Ready to learn how to pitch a deck of cards? Whether you're aiming to become a casino dealer or just want to impress your friends at your next black jack night, practicing card pitching at home is a must. From setting up a practice space to trying out fun techniques like the helicopter pitch, at-home practice can help you develop the muscle memory and control needed to master this skill. So, grab a deck of cards and let's get pitching!
Today, you are learning how to pitch cards for blackjack. Before we start, I recommend making sure you have a double deck of cards, as it will be easier to pitch more cards. Once you have shuffled and cut the deck, place the cut card aside. Now, hold the deck in your hand and get ready to start pitching the game.
When you are pitching, it's important to avoid having cards fly off the table. If a card accidentally flies off the table during a live game, immediately stop dealing, call over the floor, and say "Card down." Watch the area where the card fell to make sure nothing suspicious happens. The floor person will inspect the cards, and then you can resume dealing. However, before you can deal in a casino, you will need many hours of practice at home. Yes, dealers have homework too! Much of dealing involves muscle memory, so you need to practice a lot until your body can do it naturally and automatically.
There are two types of pitching:
- pitching for blackjack, and
- pitching for poker.
Today, we will focus on pitching for blackjack.
When pitching, be careful not to move your wrist back and forth repeatedly (see video for example), as this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist cysts from the repetitive motion. This can be painful and may require expensive operations. Since you will be pitching for hours a day, several days a week, it's important to pitch correctly to avoid wrist injuries.
So, what does it mean to pitch correctly? You should use your thumb to do the work. Try snapping your fingers to see how effortless it is. That's how effortless pitching should be. Use your middle finger to flick the card while keeping your wrist completely straight. Your thumb and middle finger should do the work, not your wrist. Your wrist should remain as straight as possible.
To practice at home, you can use objects around the house to simulate the betting circles on the table. Place these objects on the table and aim to pitch the cards to these objects. When pitching on a single or double deck, never pitch to the players; always pitch to the bets. Sometimes there may be players who are not betting or players with multiple bets. Pitching to the bets helps avoid mistakes and ensures that only active bets receive cards. So, get some objects such as cleaning devices, rolls of duct tape, paper towels, or toilet paper, and place them on the table to practice pitching. Pitch to the objects as if you were in a real casino, and practice for hours, focusing on maintaining a straight wrist during the pitching motion.
It's okay if the cards miss the objects during practice; the goal is to perfect the pitching motion without moving the wrist.
If you want to challenge yourself, you can make it a game. For example, out of two decks (104 cards), try using just one deck (52 cards) to see how many times you hit the objects and how many times you miss. Calculate the percentage and try to beat your score next time to make it more fun.
Now, let's talk about how to pitch. As mentioned earlier, practice pitching seriously for 30 minutes to an hour at home. You can even do it while watching TV, but make sure to dedicate the time for practice.
Pitching the deck is a skill that many dealers struggle with, but don't worry, we will cover it in detail today.
Q: How common is the pitch game compared to a shoe game?
A: A pitch game is common enough that if a dealer applies for a middle or high end casino, they are expected to be able to pitch a game. The trend has changed. Typically you would see handheld games on the floor like all the rest of the games. You don’t see that too much any more. If you do, they are all 6 to 5. So it really just depends on the casino. But this is common enough the dealer should be able to know how to pitch a deck of cards.
Pitching is not as risky for game security as other things. I think a single or double deck is more risky to security than pitching because of the card counting factor.
Okay, so let’s get to this. How to pitch a deck of cards. Now the first thing that you want to do is make sure you are holding the deck of cards properly. Follow these steps:
- Hold the deck of cards up against your hand. Place the edge of the deck between the first line on your forefinger and the corner or indentation of your hand.
- Your finger should go over the corner, holding it in place. Use the heel of your hand to push up and get it snug in there, making sure there are no gaps between the cards.
- When you are dealing as the players, your hand should cover the face and the side of the cards, so the players can't see what's coming up next.
- Hold the deck slightly away from your body and at an upward angle. This way, the players can't see the next card. Holding it too low may allow players to see the top card and potentially mark it.
- Avoid holding the deck too high, as it may result in flashing the next card to the players, which is a security risk. Keep it stomach high, slightly away from the body, and at an upward angle.
When you are dealing and pitching, this is what it should look like (reference the video for example).
Remember, practicing pitching for 30 minutes to an hour at home can help improve your skills. It's important to pitch to the bets and not to the players, aiming for the betting circles on the table. Keep practicing and honing your pitching technique to become a proficient dealer.
Q: What do you do if you are a player on the table and the dealer messes up and they end up paying you instead of taking your money. What should you do? Should I tell the dealer that I made a mistake or should I take it? I don’t feel right just taking it.
A: That is a great question. I have had people ask me this alot.
In my personal opinion, if a dealer messes up and pays you more than they should have, and they and nobody else realizes it, should you tell them or give the money back? My opinion on this, and this is just a personal opinion, is that if the dealer makes a mistake, that's their responsibility. There's no reason why you should notify them of their error. If they overpay you, go ahead and take the money. If they catch the mistake and ask for the money back, you can simply return it without any issue.
If the casino managers notice the mistake and ask for the money back, you can comply without any problem. However, if they don't catch the mistake and you keep the extra money, that's also fine. After all, casinos are in the business of making money, and if they accidentally give you more, there's no need to feel guilty about keeping it. Chances are, you'll likely end up gambling that money away anyway, and the casino will ultimately recoup their losses. It could even give you more time at the table to enjoy yourself. That's how I see it, and it's my personal opinion.
From a professional standpoint, casinos would prefer if you notified them of any mistakes so they can retrieve their money. However, it's important to remember that casinos are corporations driven by profit, and they will always want to recover any losses. As a player, if you do end up with extra money due to a dealer's mistake, don't feel bad about keeping it. Casinos are designed to take your money, and if they accidentally give you more, it's okay to accept it and enjoy your time at the table. It's all about entertainment and having fun!
Q: Do table game dealers make less than poker dealers, because poker dealers get a dollar or two dollars after every hand. At 25 to 30 hands per hour.
A: Great question! It really depends on the casino. That’s all that matters. What casino are they working at?
The amount of money that dealers make in tips can vary greatly depending on the casino where they work. For example, some dealers may only make around $20 an hour in addition to tips, resulting in a daily income of $50, $60, or $70 from tips alone. On the other hand, poker dealers in certain casinos can earn much higher incomes, ranging from $40,000 to $75,000 or even $80,000, $90,000 a year in some cases. The amount of money a poker dealer makes can depend on the location of the casino. For instance, a poker dealer at a casino like the Orleans may make around $40,000 to $50,000 a year, whereas a dealer at a high-end casino like the Cosmopolitan, Wynn, Bellagio, Encore, or Venetian may earn $75,000, $80,000, or even $90,000 a year.
To find out more about tip numbers for different casinos, you can visit the website vegas-aces.com and go to the resources section. On the right-hand side of the page, you'll find the "World Toke Board" where you can see the toke numbers from various casinos around the world, including information for poker dealers as well. This can provide you with additional insights and information about dealer salaries and tips in different casinos.
Q: Are there any Star Trek themed casinos?
A: There should be Star Trek themed casinos! I did talk to a friend of mine who is a table game inventor and I asked him to make a Dabo game. So maybe, hopefully one day we will have a Dabo game in a casino. That would be fun.
Q: I have seen an argument between a pit boss and a player where they claimed that they overpaid that lady $2000 on her last visit.
A: That is just ridiculous! I agree it is ridiculous but they do do that.
A good example of this is the Phil Ivey incident, where he and his friend Sun cheated the casino by marking the cards and then checking what came out. The casino only realized after they left that it was wrong and then sued them to ask for their money back. So it does happen that the casino can come back to you and ask for the money back, although it is unlikely for small amounts like $5. However, for players like Phil Ivey who win large sums of money, such as $5000 or $10,000, and it was a mistake that they shouldn't have been given that money, the casino may ask for the money back.
Now let's learn how to pitch. First, hold the deck correctly, which is very important. To pitch the cards, hold a card out with your thumb and push the first card out. Then, with your hand, align the corner of the card with the crease of your forefinger. Hold the corner of the card, not the middle or bottom, as that won't allow you to pitch the deck effectively. Hold the corner of the card and use your middle finger's nail to flick it off, just like flicking. It should feel like that. Flick the card with your middle finger and don't move your wrist.
When you finish flicking, your fingers should be in a V shape, and your thumb is up against your hand. This is what I call "following through." Some people don't follow through when they pitch, and their flick is not very good because of it. To follow through, take the card, flick it, and follow through with your hand. Don't be afraid to let go, as some people let go too early without the flicking part. If the card lands facing up, it's okay. Just flip it back over and give it to the player. One of the nice things about pitching on a blackjack game is that if you make a mistake and a card flips over, as long as it's not your hold card, it's not a big deal. Flip it over and pass it on to the player.
In contrast, pitching on a poker game is different. Poker dealers pitch slightly differently to avoid accidentally flipping over the cards and ruining the hand, as it would lead to frustrations and reshuffling. So, let's go through it one more time. When practicing at home, do it over and over again, but slowly.
Focus on the procedure and doing everything correctly from step one to step ten, rather than trying to be fast or look like experienced dealers. Dealers who have been pitching for years have developed muscle memory, which you don't have yet. That's why practice and learning are essential.
If you still lack confidence or comfort in pitching, it simply means you haven't put in enough hours of practice yet. I'm not saying you haven't practiced, I'm sure you have spent a considerable amount of time practicing. However, it's important to note that developing the muscle memory required to effectively deal cards takes a significant amount of practice at home. I'm not talking about just one or a few hours of practice. It usually takes around six months to a year for your muscle memory to take over and for you to be able to pitch without even thinking about it. So, don't be discouraged if you don't feel comfortable pitching right away. It takes time and a lot of practice, so keep at it!
Q: Is pitching done face up on purpose?
A: No pitching is not done face up on purpose. Well not that I know of. I can’t think of any games where pitching – where someone pitching the cards and all of the cards are face up. All of the cards are usually face down. If anyone out there that can think of a carnival game where all of the cards are pitched faced up let me know.
Q: This seems weird, do any strip casinos do this?
A: What are you talking about when you say, do any strip casinos do this? Are you talking about pitching? Then yes, strip casinos do pitch. Most casinos do have pitching on their casino floor. If you see a single deck or a double deck on a casino floor more than likely it is a 6 to 5 game. If you see a single or double deck on a high limit area or in a high limit area that would typically be 3 to 2. So blackjack would pay 3 to 2.
Q: Are pips also the dots on dice?
A: Absolutely! Not only are pips the spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs we see on cards, but they are also the spots on dice. If you have some dice, on these dice you can see the two small dots on it. Those two dots are also called pips. This card that I’m holding has four pips and this die has two pips. Boththe dice and the cards have pips. Yep and on dominos too. Exactly! So let’s see if I can give you guys a good example. On a domino these dots you see are pips as well. Fantastic!
Q: My hands were hurting after training for eight hours. After four hours of training I was wondering why I was holding the deck too tight.
A: Yes. That is a fantastic point. Thank you for bringing that up.
Many inexperienced dealers struggle with holding the deck or pitching the cards, often gripping the deck too tightly. If you notice your skin changing color, such as your knuckles turning white, or if your hand starts to hurt after holding the deck for a while, it's a sign that you are holding the deck too tightly. It's important to hold the deck in a comfortable and loose manner, without straining or gripping it too tightly. Remember, the deck didn't do anything to you, so there's no need to strangle it!
Hold the deck at stomach height, slightly away from your body, in a relaxed and comfortable grip. You're not trying to crush it or cause any discomfort. I've made this mistake before, and so have my friends and students. It's a common behavior that can be corrected with awareness and practice. So, don't worry if you've been gripping the deck tightly, just make the necessary adjustments and you'll find it much easier and more enjoyable!
Q: We don’t have any pitch games in our casino.
A: Yeah there are some casinos that don’t have any pitch games. Also, you might see a – it’s really fun but there are some casinos where their dealers are breakin dealers and they can't pitch the game but they still want to offer a single or double deck game. So instead of having them pitch they will actually have a single deck shoe or a double deck shoe and have their dealers deal out of that double deck shoe. That makes it easier for the dealer so they don't have to pitch.
Q: So does pitching only happen on super premium tables? A: No. There are plenty of pitching tables, single and double deck, where it’s still a low limit.
In lower minimum bet games like $5 or $10, you may still be able to pitch the cards. However, be aware that the payout for blackjack may be 6 to 5 instead of the more favorable 3 to 2 typically found in high limit single or double deck pitch games.
When I was learning to be a break-in dealer, I used to practice at home by pitching the cards to my dog. It was a fun and entertaining way to practice, although my cards didn't last very long with all the holes from my dog's teeth marks! If you have a pet at home, it can be a great way to make practice more enjoyable and interactive.
To hold the cards properly, extend your hand and line up the cards between the crease in your fingers and the part of your hand where it folds in. Use the palm of your hand to push the cards up, so they fit snugly in your hand without any gaps. It's important to avoid having a large gap between the deck and the face of the cards, as break-in dealers sometimes do. Keep the cards snug in your hand without any gaps for proper handling.
To pitch the cards, hold the deck without any gaps and push the first card out. Line up the corner of the card with the crease of your finger and hold the top portion, the top corner of the card, avoiding holding it in the middle or at the bottom. Hold the card at the very top. Using your finger, flick the card out, repeating this motion over and over again. The feeling should be similar to flicking your middle finger against your thumb. Practice this motion while watching TV or in your free time.
As you pitch the cards and they leave your hand, you may need to re-adjust your grip on the deck, and that's okay. Just make sure you are holding the deck slightly away from your body and at an upward angle. It's normal to re-adjust your grip as you continue pitching the cards. Keep practicing and refining your technique to improve your card pitching skills.
When you're at home, set up items or use your dog for practice. It doesn't matter what the item is, just set it up and spend plenty of hours practicing your pitching. Aim and try to hit the item, whether it's cards, balls, or other objects. If they go over or under, if they fly, or if you make a big mess, that's OKAY. Your goal is to learn how to do the actual movement without moving your wrist. Use your middle finger to flick it out without moving your wrist, using your nail or other parts of your finger to release the item smoothly.
When practicing, focus on finding the flicking motion that feels comfortable to you. Depending on the size of your hands, you might use different parts of your finger, such as the tip, the middle, or the base. Experiment and find what works best for you. Practice the flicking motion repeatedly to develop muscle memory and improve your pitching technique. Remember, the key is to keep your wrist stable while using your finger to propel the item forward.
So go ahead, set up those items or involve your dog, and dedicate ample time to practicing your pitching technique at home. The more you practice, the better you'll get at mastering the flicking motion without relying on wrist movement. Keep persevering and you'll see progress in your pitching skills over time!
Set up everything in its place, and if possible, stand instead of sitting. When pitching in a live casino game, you'll be standing, so it's better to practice while standing as well. Although you can practice while sitting, it's beneficial to practice in a standing position. Aim for the items you've set up and pitch away, trying to avoid moving your wrist and focusing on flicking your hand instead. Practice pitching from left to right, just as you would in a casino.
To make it more fun, interesting, or challenging, consider setting up a scoreboard where you can keep track of how many times you hit the mark and how many times you miss. You can even have someone help you by being the counter, keeping track of each successful hit versus each miss. After you're done, collect the cards and repeat the process over and over again. Remember, it's all about muscle memory and hours of practice at home.
Every single dealer has to practice at home. It’s just part of it. That is why I say anyone can be a dealer. Anyone can practice this stuff at home. Guess what, we all have to practice this stuff at home anyway. Whether we go to a dealing school or not. We are all supposed to go home and practice this at home. So anyone can do this.
I really enjoy doing the helicopter pitch. Let me show you what I mean. When I used to pitch, I loved doing it this way. Now, it's not necessarily the best technique because you can see the cards if you pitch too high. But it's so much fun! I used to enjoy pitching this way. Let me explain what the helicopter pitch is.
During practice, it's okay if the cards go over the table or miss your mark. The helicopter pitch is a flick up, but it's something you'll likely learn after spending a year or two, or even three years, on the table and practicing for hours. It's one of those things that comes with experience and allows you to develop your own style and have fun with it.
So, how do you do the helicopter pitch? When you're doing a normal pitch, you aim towards the bets, like what I showed you earlier. But when you're doing the helicopter pitch, you sort of aim up and towards the player, like this. It's like a helicopter motion, aiming upwards and towards the player. It's a technique you'll likely develop after years of practice, and you'll eventually get the hang of it. You'll develop a flow with the cards and gain good control over them, allowing you to pitch in your preferred style, whether it's the normal pitch or any other variation.
There you have it! With some practice and dedication, anyone can become a card pitching pro. Whether you're aiming to become a professional dealer or just want to add some flair to your home poker games, consistent practice at home can help you improve your skills and develop your own unique style of pitching. So, keep flicking those cards, experimenting with different techniques, and soon you'll be impressing everyone with your card pitching prowess. Happy pitching!