Last month, I ran into my friend Tala at the Crystal Palace casino in Nassau, Bahamas. She was dealing blackjack. Sort of …
Tala is a local freelance model. She recently filmed a gig for Shuffle Master, the company that makes the automatic card-shuffling machines.
With a wink and a smile, Tala pretended to deal blackjack, baccarat, three-card poker and draw poker, and Shuffle Master integrated the footage—complete with winks and smiles—into its video blackjack and video poker machines. Now, Tala can be seen snapping up tourists’ cash at the Mirage, New York-New York, MGM Grand, Sahara, Planet Hollywood and, yes, Nassau’s Crystal Palace.
“The filming took a couple hours,” Tala told me. “Basically, they had me look around, nod and encourage people to sit down at the table … using a little bit of sexual innuendo. ‘Come play with me’—that sort of thing. And then they had me pretend to deal out the cards.”
The Shuffle Master Virtual Blackjack machines have been around for a couple of years, and the fact that they’re just now filming new dealers indicates that the machines are here to stay. If only Tala could get a cut of the proceeds … or tips.
So why would any gambler prefer to play against a virtual dealer? A couple of reasons come to mind: The stakes are lower. It’s less intimidating. If you make a dumb play, the dealer won’t judge you for it. And if you feel the virtual dealers’ pixilated eyes frowning on you, you can trash-talk the dealer without getting kicked out or smacked. That’s what the drunk gamblers were doing at the Crystal Palace, at least. They were cursing Tala out.
“She’s really a nice girl,” I told them.