Meet Heather Ferris: From Las Vegas Dealer to Online Casino Educator

Written by: Ashley Grasse , Specialist in Casino, Games, and Trends
14 minute read
Meet Heather Ferris, Las Vegas Casino insider. Portrait photograph with casino-themed background.

Join us as we explore the dynamic life of Heather Ferris, a Las Vegas native whose journey from odd jobs on Fremont Street to dealing at the Gold Coast culminated in the creation of Vegas Aces—an online trade school revolutionizing casino education.

As casino game expert, Heather creates courses for players and dealers and helps inventors bring new games to the market.

In this exclusive interview for OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com, Heather shares tales from her time as a dealer, insights into the industry, and her commitment to offering free education to casino enthusiasts.

Meet Heather Ferris: Exclusive Interview

Can you share a bit about your background and how you started working in the casino industry?

I was born and raised in Las Vegas during the 1980s. My grandmother was a showgirl, and my grandfather worked at the Stardust when Lefty Rosenthal was there.

Growing up, I worked odd jobs, including as a henna artist on Fremont Street, a safety instructor, and a preschool teacher.

I went to college at UNLV. However, I kept changing my major, from art to teaching to forensic investigator.

My significant other suggested that I go to dealing school and become a dealer. I never imagined myself as a casino dealer, but I eventually agreed, thinking I could pay my way through college.

I went to the Las Vegas Dealing School and was surprised by how most students were teaching other students. After two weeks, I got my first job as a dealer on the Gold Coast.

You were a casino dealer in Las Vegas – Did you enjoy it?

I loved my 20-minute breaks. It was so amazing to get paid for 8 hours of work when that included 2 hours of break time.

I loved the actual mechanics and procedures of dealing the game.

I find dealing games to be enjoyable and fun. I loved being able to talk to different people from around the world and hearing their life experiences.

What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about casino dealing?

As a Las Vegas casino employee, I loved how we got free tickets to the shows so we could tell our players how great it was and why they needed to check it out.

I loved how, whenever it was a dealer’s birthday, there would be a potluck and cake in the breakroom, and it felt like a party for that entire shift. Those were my favorite things about dealing.

My least favorite thing about dealing was when players became verbally or physically abusive.

One dealer I knew was punched in the face for dealing bad cards, and another dealer was spit in the eye, and having a stalker was common.

I’ve had players call me every name in the book, throw cards and ashtrays at me… threaten me.

I tried to explain that dealers don’t have a say in the next card to come out of the shoe. However, I found that blame-shifting was a common tactic when losing.

image of a Las Vegas casino dealer placing cards on a blackjack table

Do you have any funny or memorable stories from your time working as a Vegas casino dealer?

Every December the rodeo comes into town, bringing with it a city full of cowboys. I had this cowboy on my table playing $1,000 per hand, and he was completely wasted. He had a 16, hit the 16, and got a 10.

He furiously picked up that 10 card, crumpled it, ate it, and then asked for another hit.

My jaw hit the floor. I called over my floor man, Bill, and said, “We need another 10 of hearts.” 

“What do you mean ‘we need another 10 of hearts’? What happened to the 10 of hearts you had?” Bill asked, confused. 

“Well… this guy ate it.” 

“No he didn’t. Stop pulling my chain, can’t you see how busy I am?” Bill said as he started to walk away. 

“No, come back; check the camera’s if you don’t believe me.” I called after him. 

So Bill went to the phone and called the cameras, and sure enough, they verified my story. When Bill walked back to the table, he looked stunned. “What should I do?” I asked him. 

Bill sighed before replying “Well, if he wants a card so badly, give him another card.” 

I think everyone at the table was as surprised as I was. So I gave him another card and he got a 5, making 21, and ended up winning.

I asked Bill later why he didn’t kick that guy out, and he said, “Well, that guy has been here for 3 days and has lost $30,000 every day. So for $90,000, I think the casino can afford to give him one hand to make him happy.”

What are the most interesting things you learned while working as a casino dealer?

I learned that I didn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a trade school to learn to deal other games like roulette, baccarat, pai gow, or craps.

As long as an experienced dealer showed me the ropes and I practiced at home, I could learn any game. Dealing schools are so incredibly expensive and are a great place for learning bad habits. Which people will immediately have to unlearn once they start working in a casino.  

Once a person has a job as a dealer, they can learn new games on the job, while being paid.

These are the steps you can take to learn a new casino game for free. As a dealer, when tapped off the table, instead of heading to your 20-minute break, walk over to the table game you want to learn and ask the floor supervisor if you could watch the dealer deal it.

At first, only watch, ask questions, and become accustomed to the rules. Never try to deal the game right off the bat without knowing what you are doing.

The dealer will agree and start explaining how to play the game and walking you through the procedures as they deal. If they do not do this, it is okay to ask them to.

Continue to do this until you feel comfortable with the game. When you are ready to take the next step, ask the floor supervisor if you can be shadowed on the game.

When they agree, ask the dealer who is dealing that game if they can shadow you. The dealer will agree, clap out, and allow you to take over. They will watch over you and make sure you deal the game properly while giving you advice, knowledge, and guidance.

They will be able to tell you if you are ready or not. You may need to practice more at home or work on your times tables.

Heather Ferris Vegas Aces promotional image with Las Vegas strip as backdrop

Tell us about Vegas-Aces. The site describes it as an online trade school for dealers, players, and game inventors. How did the idea come about, and what motivated you to start the company?

The idea of Vegas Aces came about after my experience with dealing trade schools.

I wanted to give back to my community, helping people by offering a free education. My thought was, “If a person can’t afford to put food on their table, how can they afford to go to a trade school to get a better-paying job?”

It is so easy to get trapped in the cycle of working minimum wage, fighting to pay bills, and putting food on the table. It’s near impossible to evolve, grow, and be a better person when struggling to survive. 

Unfortunately, running a website and YouTube channel costs money, and after 7 years, I needed to come up with an idea to keep this free for everyone.

So I started my business, Vegas Aces Services, LLC, and the money we make from the business goes towards keeping the trade school free and available for everyone.

How do you help players and people who want to become casino dealers?

We assist aspiring dealers in a variety of ways.

Each person is different, and we try to meet them where they are at. If the new dealer wants to learn in the privacy of their own home, they can read our how-to articles on our website or watch our YouTube videos.

If the person has a few questions or needs extra guidance, they can email me (at [email protected]), and I will answer their questions, or we can set up a phone call, and I will walk them through the process.

If the new dealer feels like they need more individual attention, we can set up a Facetime meeting using a classroom structure where there are lessons and homework, and I will give the new dealer tips and tricks based on their performance.

We also have the option of paid premium courses via Teachable, where they can learn how to be a casino party dealer or how to give themselves a raise if they are already a casino dealer.

Image of a casino table with software code overlayed on top.

You also help game inventors develop new casino games. How does that work?

After a casino game inventor emailed me, we set up a new client meeting.

This meeting will typically last one hour, during which we will discuss where the inventor is in the process, where they want to go, and how we can get them there.

We have a company wide NDA, where we won’t discuss a new game invention unless we have the inventor’s permission to actively promote it.

Once we get a lay of the land, we start to develop the casino game. This includes the game logo, felt layout, rack card, demo game, and website.

We walk our clients through the process of development, refer them to mathematicians or patent lawyers who are well-known in the industry and who have been doing this for decades, and answer any questions they may have along the way.

Once the game is developed, we give our clients the step-by-step process for how to move forward, whether that is placing their game on the casino floor or selling it to a large corporation online.

Is there anything else that you are working on right now or future plans that you are excited about?

Vegas Aces continuously adds people to our team, providing you with more information and resources.

We are excited about the new content we are preparing. We have three new writers on our YouTube team, which allows us to provide a steady stream of content on YouTube.

We are also working on new flashcards and will have our 6 to 5 blackjack flashcards available in the first part of 2024.

We are currently going through a pile of instruction manuals and will have a steady stream of new materials beginning in 2024.

Last but not least, I just finished inventing and developing my 4th casino game. I’m really excited about it; however, I’m not allowed to give the public details about the project.

Heather Ferris being featured by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com in mobile article

In the past, you’ve worked with OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com on the Las Vegas Survey, written articles, and helped us answer player questions. When did you first come across our page? Tell us a little bit about this collaboration.

I met David years ago, and we became friends, chatting about the casino industry and tabletop games.

He was the one who introduced me to OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. I was eventually brought on as a writer and contributor to OUSC, and I enjoyed collaborating on various projects, including the 2020 Las Vegas Casino Survey.

Everyone that I have met at OUSC site has been wonderful. The people who work there are kind and supportive, and they genuinely care about giving their readers the best information possible.

It’s been a good partnership since day one.

How do you think your content can help the everyday player – from rookies to veterans?

Our content will help rookie players by teaching them a variety of casino table games.

It also tell players about casino etiquette, common do’s and don’ts, and stories and experiences from Las Vegas dealers.

This information can also educate veterans as we discuss the house edge and how to pick and choose what games to play, as well as in-depth articles about certain topics.

What type of content do you enjoy creating the most?

I enjoy creating content that people can obtain value from. Out of all the content I’ve created in the past, the flashcards were really enjoyable to create because so many people, both players and dealers, got so much out of it.

If I have multiple people asking me for an article explaining 6 to 5 blackjack, for example, then that is the kind of content I enjoy creating because I know people will use it to help them learn a new skill.

Heather Ferri's favorite games: Roulette and Pai Gow Poker

What are your favorite games to deal or play?

My two favorite games to deal were Roulette and Pai-Gow Poker.

Roulette was fun because it was easy to get into a rhythm of mucking chips, snapping the ball, paying the wager, rinse and repeat.

I enjoyed doing the math and pushing stacks of 20 chips to the players.

I enjoyed dealing Pai-Gow Poker because I loved that I got to sit down while I dealt. I also liked the pace of the game; nice and slow.

I enjoyed creating high and low hands using the house rules.

What game do you stay clear of? Why?

I stay clear of slot machines. The one-armed bandits of the casino world.

Some machines have a higher house edge than most table games and if I sit down at a slot machine and I don’t understand what is going on or how to win, I won’t play.

Some games are purposely confusing when it comes to lines, wins, losses, bonuses, or jackpots.

For example, some slot machines will change your cash to points, so when you win, and the bells are ringing, and you see a cute animation that shows you won all these points, most players don’t realize that, yes they won $4, however, they bet $6, for a $2 loss.

I feel like I have more control over my hand when I play table games, compared to slots, where I just press a button and pray.

Are there any specific game genres or formats that you believe will gain popularity in the near future?

I predict people will see more game innovations online versus on the casino floor.

It is so incredibly difficult to get a new game onto the casino floor. If I look into my crystal ball, I see an online game gaining popularity to the point of being placed in a land-based casino.

Also, land-based casinos need to do something to entice the younger generations to visit them. In addition, I believe you will see more selfie stations in casinos where people can take a selfie on a designated blackjack table or a colorful and beautifully lit background.

By offering more experiences, casinos will draw younger people in, and they may stop by a blackjack table to try a hand or two.

For those looking to start their own ventures in the casino or gaming industry, what advice would you give them based on your entrepreneurial journey with Vegas Aces?

My advice would be to keep going. Think of this project as a marathon, not a quick sprint.

It takes time, dedication, and the hard work of a team of people to create content and put it out into the world.

Before you begin this journey, find your North Star. Why are you doing this? Knowing this will help keep you going.

My North Star is, “if Vegas Aces can positively impact at least one person, giving them a better life, then it was worth it.”

In hindsight, we ended up helping much more than one person.

Heather OUSC Articles Image

What can OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com’s readers look forward to finding in your articles?

We provide a good amount of information for players and dealers, including educational content that teaches people about certain tabletop games, casino etiquette, house edge, and more.

Readers will find tips and tricks for their favorite casino games and in-depth analysis on topics such as probability.


Ashley Grasse

Ashley Grasse Specialist in Casino, Games, and Trends

Ashley Grasse is a technical writer and online casino expert who researches sites and games in detail to provide accurate, unbiased reviews. She's a gambling theory enthusiast, an expert on information accuracy that makes difficult concepts easy to understand, and a lover of the outdoors.

Learn More About Ashley