I Swapped a University Degree for a Croupier Training School

I Swapped a University Degree for a Croupier Training School

Doesn’t sound very clever, does it? Croupier training school?

My mum has always pushed me into getting a university degree. But which 18-year-old listens to their parents?

I did sign up though. Suffered through the first year. And gave up. Mum wasn’t impressed.

I studied a degree in English philology which is the study of oral and written language. It was the most boring thing I have ever done.

Degree in a language doesn’t teach you anything handy like actually using the language. I soon found out that if I want to learn English well, I’ll have to forget about this pointless degree and move to a different country.


I found something interesting – a croupier training school which was literally next to my faculty building! Coincidence?

I’ve made a decision that most people, now including me, would describe as utterly rushed and research-absent. I guess you get away with a lot of irrational decisions when you’re 19. I don’t think it would work out now – in my early thirties. I’d pay a dear price for the lack of thinking.

I didn’t even know what a croupier was then and that’s definitely a thing I should have researched a little more because their job is to add up. All my life, my grades in Maths have been C’s, nothing else. I was able to pass the final Grammar School exam only because the government in Czech Republic cancelled mandatory Math exams that year.

So, I signed up and went through 8 weeks of intensive training that made me question my own sanity. It was a full-time “job” – 8h a day, Monday to Friday and I started having number-related nightmares within a week.

I believe it was 5 of us. (If I forgot someone, I’m terribly sorry, It’s been 12 years. Oh, and I’m not very good with numbers.)

We learned how to spin the ball which occasionally resulted in bruises on our foreheads, especially at the beginning.

What a dolly was – apart from the famous cloned sheep, it’s a little plastic pin (metal in some posh places) that croupier puts on a winning number on roulette to prevent sneaky customer’s fingers from adding more chips and claim higher winnings.

croupier's hands around chips and dolly croupier training school

We also learned how to pick up chips really fast. Well, some of us did. I’m still bad, 12 years later. And having a year-long break probably didn’t help.

How to “cut” chips down neatly in the piles of 5. I’ve found out that my left hand is a lot more skilled at this even though I’m right-handed. But that shouldn’t have been a surprise since I was laughed at on many occasions during my childhood when holding any sport equipment the wrong way around.

The skill I was most excited to learn was the cool way to shuffle the cards. That didn’t last long, as I soon found out that you can only do it on a special type of “carpet” which we call a layout, and it’s the soft fabric that covers every gaming table in a casino. My anticipations of learning a new pub trick have been shattered. (I can’t wait for the comments telling me that it’s really easy to do it on a wooden table – I told you I wasn’t very good).

I also finally started using English! The main teacher at the school was a British gentleman who taught us everything we needed to know about British humour and that it’s absolutely normal to take the mickey out of people you’re meeting for the very first time. That was the most valuable lesson I learned in that course! It proved useful on regular basis after I moved to the UK in the spring of 2010.


I could have chosen the city where I was going to be sent but since I didn’t know much and wanted to leave as soon as possible, I told them to just send me wherever the opportunity arises first. It turned out to be Liverpool and nobody bothered to warn me about the incomprehensible accent.

liverpool town in sunset

They were kind enough to pick me up at the airport. I was met by a girl and a man who led me to a black SUV. That didn’t look good, I admit, but more than the car, I was worried that I might have somehow landed in a wrong country. I spent the whole journey from the airport deciphering the language those two were speaking. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t English.

They, however, took me to the address I’ve given them on a piece of paper and I successfully established that I am not being kidnapped and nobody is after my kidneys.

For the first three months, I had no clue what anyone was on about and, looking back now, I don’t know what led me to this insane decision. I have put myself in hands of complete strangers and I regret nothing!


Or Circus Casino, as it was called when I first started.

The staff of my first work-place in Liverpool was nothing but nice to me and showed incredible levels of patience towards my inability to grasp the intricacies of Scouse English. I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped me and made the start of my journey in the UK a lot less lonely.

I’ve had so much fun over there and I have nothing else but fond memories, apart from that one time when a manager Gary made me cry. He was funny the rest of the time, so I forgive him.

I have given out so much money in that casino that they printed me a special name tag that read “disaster” in my native language (Czech). Some casinos are quite superstitious and think it’s the croupier’s fault when the table is losing money.

In Liverpool, I have learned everything I needed to know about British culture, language and humour which no university could have taught me.

I am now thinking about finishing my English degree here in the UK. I’m not trying to say that university is a waste of time. But at some points in our lives, the school of life is just a lot more important. University and degrees can wait.

This article is published on Ace Academy website!

If you enjoyed this one, you can read my other article which describes what is it like to work in a casino which has been published in Infinity Gaming Magazine in January 2021.

8 thoughts on “I Swapped a University Degree for a Croupier Training School”

  • Your post made me LOL a few times (one @ the disaster comment and the other at the incomprehensible accent people in Liverpool have). I have never been to the UK other than being there in transit (but that of course, does not count as I didn’t really step outside of the airport), so I am super curious to hear the accent now!

    I enjoyed reading your journey and had absolutely no idea what a “croupier” is! I am happy that you chose to make your own life decisions and not get sucked in to what everyone expects you to do. You do you, girl! Yes, education is important but sometimes life teaches you way more than what a school education can.

    Good luck with your English degree!

    • Thank you!

      It was definitely supposed to entertain through my own misery 😉

      You should definitely look up Liverpool accent LOL – I think you may have heard it already in movies and series, you probably just haven’t realised. The Lister character from Red Dwarf is scouse and the movie Lock stock and two smoking barrels has characters from Liverpool. There are many more but these two were the most popular ones I could think of 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • “Croupier Training School” certainly grabbed my attention as I was both clueless and curious. I must admit that I was amazed at the level of training to operate the table and to prevent cheating. I just did not give it any thought and so I am grateful that you took the time to share your experience.

    All the best with your degree. Timing is everything.

    • Hi Josephine, first of all, I love your name!

      Thank you for stopping by! Yes, the job and the training at the beginning is very intense and it’s not easy at all. I’m glad I can make this industry a little less mysterious through my writing.

  • I’ve always wondered how the staff at casinos get so good. I had no idea there was a school for it! You should share way more of your casino experiences and adventures!

    • They actually get this good by many years of experience – the training school barely scratches the surface!

      It’s a hard job to learn and even harder to perform. It’s mentally difficult to keep everyone happy and under control.

  • Hi Silvie,
    Thanks for another great article on a great topic. As a parent of three adult children I’ll totally agree with you. They don’t want to hear or process much of what mom or dad say as anything interesting! What a great story and good for you on that journey. Sometimes being young(er) and adventurous is way more sensible in the long run. Your article is great advice that I’ve tried to instill in my kids – be a risk taker; within reason. Some times that road that you take to the edge of the cliff is filled with excitement, fear and determination all wrapped into one. Very glad to hear of your successful path to London and the Casinos and wish you continued luck in all of your endeavors. Looking forward to what’s next in your portfolio of goodies.

    • Hi Kerry!
      Thank you for a insightful reply!
      I like your attitude towards your kids! Some lessons we just have to learn the hard way, without anyone’s help.

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