This week’s interview is with David Noll that runs CEG Dealer School and Casino Quest
David Noll is an impressive businessman that, together with Alex Kim, runs Casino Quest and CEG Dealer School, two successful companies that help dealers and players level up their skills. We talk about what makes good casino and gambling content, and Noll shares their plans for 2023.
The Dealer school has been active since 2013, you have expanded three times already and now serve up to 100 students per month. What prompted you to launch CEG and what has been the source of that impressive growth?
Noll. CEG was originally founded in 2013 by Alex Kim who saw demand for a more immersive training experience. Alex focused on full sized professional equipment, strangely not the norm, and teachers with more experience at the higher end of casino dealing. By offering teachers higher wages and networking with more luxury properties, Alex attracted a team of seasoned professionals to help teach new students at CEG.
I arrived in 2018 and fell in love with the school and Alex’s vision and character. My moment of clarity came when Alex left the school to buy an iron and ironing board and returned to personally iron the shirt of a student who was preparing for a job and simply could not afford an iron of his own.
I had been involved in gaming since 1991, but I was also a business planner and consultant during this time. I have always believed that good business grows from good people. When I first visited CEG I had no intention of doing anything but working inside a casino. Once I got to know Alex, I knew I wanted him as a business partner and share in the mission to provide the best opportunities for casino dealers who trusted our path.
Our growth comes down to some very basic principles. Foremost, an adaptive learning experience that recognizes people are unique. We built a learning program that is very flexible and uses multiple techniques to give students a more immersive and reliable experience.
Second, we love what we do. Our passion is teaching and providing opportunity. We have surrounded ourselves with a family, a team, and a community that shares our passion.
Third, we never miss an opportunity to do more, do better, and evolve. In every instance, we focus on the greater good and let the pieces fall into place.
In 2018 you launched your video series on YouTube, videos that now get millions of views, which is huge in the gaming space. What type of videos are the most requested from your audience? And what do you see is missing from educational videos online today?
Noll. Our biggest requests are for roulette strategies, but often more to hear our banter than the strategy themselves. Alex and I share a special camaraderie. We have a lot of fun. What you see on the videos plays out the same in real life. In fact, we started with more structured videos to promote the school. One day, Timmy took a camera and just started filming us interacting randomly on roulette and it got 1 million views. This was a great day for both of us, we stripped away all the bad acting and got back to being ourselves, a much easier task. The expression “we let our hair down” works, except we both would need to borrow some hair to let down.
Personally, I believe that some online videos are simply too structured. Gamblers want to learn, but also want to have fun. As much as we would love to learn the “secret sauce” I think the biggest opportunity is hope, excitement, anticipation, and all the other emotions that make gaming fans. Alex and I know this all too well.
Can you imagine: our gaming education channel succeeds because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’re not having fun losing at a table, stick to playing the ATM.
Tell me more about the courses. What type of skill is the most sought-after by your students? Do you train complete beginner dealers too? And do you work closely with the casinos to get new dealers certified to work on the strip?
Noll. Without a doubt, Craps dealers are most in demand by casinos. We absolutely train people with little to no knowledge of casino games. It’s great to start from scratch, and it’s also great to have some working knowledge as a player. There are arguments for both cases.
However, when you come to CEG we will prepare you for a casino career. We always recommend learning at least 3 casino games to start your career and give you the most opportunities from “GO”. Also, if you can muster the courage to learn craps (not an easy game), you will have casinos fighting over you, quite literally.
Our job network is crazy good. Before YouTube we worked with about 8 casinos on a regular basis, most of them “break-in” properties where dealers work their first job and gain experience to move on to better jobs. Now we work with more than 50 local casinos, including almost all Strip casinos and have contacts at more than 100 casino floors throughout the US, cruise ships, and other counties.
Youtube, social media, our fans, all of it has been a huge boon for our students. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it has been to deliver a real path of success to our students. We now can start students at a better property and provide a path to the biggest paying casinos in the world.
CEG also works very closely as a contracted entity to specifically train casino employees from other departments to become casino dealers. We have some really exciting programs in place now and more that will be announced soon.
You also have Casino Quest. What is the main difference between the two brands?
Noll. Casino Quest is also owned by Alex and I, but is a separate player-focused entity with a unique focus on the player experience. Casino Quest is 4800 square feet, located at the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip (2nd Floor near Dillards).
CQ provides instruction in all table games that includes etiquette AND working strategies. We have classes for absolute beginners, long-time veterans, and fans.
Alex and I are also available for private sessions. We also have a large retail section with quality gaming supplies that includes our now famous Casino Dealer Kits with everything you need for a home (Mini) casino game.
Another area of our business that has been growing steadily is corporate and special event hosting at our space. Where else can you rent a “casino” space, that is free of smoke, buy-ins, and bosses? But offers a real full-sized casino pit, experienced dealers, a famous Egyptian chandelier from the old Sahara, and an MGM Mansion table that has been 100’s of millions of action over the years. So far we have had 3 movie production companies, including VH1, and more than 20 small to large companies rent our space.
If you’re not having fun losing at a table, stick to playing the ATM
For March Madness we will roll out our new mobile event company. Our first event will be in the great hall at Fashion Show and feature students from our school and be completely free to fans and players alike. More details will be released by the Fashion Show shortly.
With more than 1000 fans a month visiting Casino Quest, our most requested service is transportation. The Black and Gold CQ vehicle service is coming.
There is a lot of misinformation about casino games on social media, I find. What tips can you give people like me who are looking for high-quality, real-life tips about dealing with and playing casino games?
Noll. Alex and I do not advocate playing any real money online unless it’s with a US-licensed casino. Outside of sports, I do not know of any casino that offers other games online. They are coming, albeit probably geo-fenced to the states in which jurisdiction is held.
We get asked a lot about using crypto casinos and the like and these are just not something we want to promote. Alex spent a minute playing with marketing money (not real money) on a virtual platform, but those appearances were more for the benefit of twitch streams. Ultimately that platform ended. Almost daily we get offers by online casinos to promote their games and the answer is always no. These go against our role as a casino dealer school with an interest in live dealers.
We do have an online app, Crapsee.com. This is freemium software with a paid version only for the purposes of playing craps online but with no cash. It’s a fantastic tool for learning and playing the game online with friends.
There are so many good tips:
- First avoid all the side bets. These have the highest edge in the casino by design.
- Only play blackjack that offers 3/2 on blackjack and requires the dealer to hit on soft 17.
- Play roulette with the fewest zeroes you can afford. Triple zero does not “offer more numbers to win” as I was once told, but is instead the bane of thinking gamers.
- Play roulette for comps, play Pai Gow and baccarat to pass time, and drink and play craps for some great team action and real opportunity.
The casino owns the long game, and if you’re lucky enough to win the short game, have a plan to walk. In fact, budget to play AND budget to win, meaning have a number fixed that is your walking bankroll.
Remember, it’s all YOUR money but this is especially true if you make it up to your room or out the door. Don’t forget to compound your Keno numbers and never, ever play with money you are not absolutely ready to lose. Always use a players card and be sure if you’re on a table, to ask about your rating and make sure it accurately reflects your betting history.
What are your plans for 2023? Will there be more expansion for CEG? What type of content can we expect to see from you, Alex, and the team this year?
Noll. Lots of new content is coming. We will also be hosting more fan events and social connections. I think 2023 is really about making those connections and building the whole experience, now that we have a better idea of what fans want.
We expect to expand the school in late 2023 to more than triple our current space. In fact, our hope is to build or take over 20-25,000 square feet and have a footprint that feeds our entire ecosystem. One of our problems is having a reliable place to film and create new content. It’s exhausting right now as we have to film after our businesses close, which requires some extra naps and downtimes.
Also coming: a 2nd east coast location, Casino Quest mobile event affiliates, CQ Transport and the CEG LMS.
Maybe most importantly our CEG LMS or online learning management system (dealers.school) will be released in its beta version April 1. We expect to start with blackjack and craps but plan to add Single Zero, poker, and all other casino table game training.
Expect archived and live streaming classes, interactive teacher discussions and forums, an extensive job board and career pathway feature, and much much more. All of it is managed and propagated by our passionate staff. We have already been approached by several casinos to license end-user training.
We are going to bring dealer training to everyone, making it accessible, affordable, and fantastically impactful. Not only will we help you to become a skilled dealer, but we will also offer direct career consulting and job pathing through our extensive network. I say “job pathing” because we are interested in helping you plan a path for your whole career, not just your first job.
We are going to keep having fun and working hard to create more opportunities for our dealers and players at every level.