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Teaching Tables

Sydney Hatcher, Director of Table Games, Golden Nugget Casino Hotel Biloxi

Teaching Tables

Sydney Hatcher graduated from DePaul University in his hometown of Chicago with a degree in English and secondary education. He taught high school English for a year. So, how did he find greener pastures in the casino industry?

Hatcher first worked in gaming while in school. He saw an ad that Horseshoe Casino, in Hammond, Indiana, was hiring for various positions. “I had never stepped foot inside a casino before, and had no idea what I was getting myself into,” he says. “Turns out, it was the best decision that I could have made.”

The income from Horseshoe financed Hatcher’s college education, and during his year of teaching, he earned extra money as a dealer. “I decided at the end of that school year, the casino industry would be my chosen profession,” he says.

His degree has come in handy anyway: teaching table games, collaborating with human resources teams and facilitating leadership training.

In his career, Hatcher has traveled from casino to casino, part of life in the industry. Today, he serves as director of table games at Golden Nugget Casino Hotel in Biloxi. Along the way, he had strong support of mentors like Brian Bentley, who was director of table games at Harrah’s Casino in Joliet, Illinois.

“He was the first person to see potential and groom me to be a shift manager. He taught me everything he knew about the business during the four years we worked together,” says Hatcher, who is into video poker when he isn’t working in a casino.

His most recent mentor, Tim Hill, vice president of casino operations at Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, Mississippi, encouraged Hatcher to go for the position at Golden Nugget. At the time he applied, Hatcher had several years experience as shift manager at Scarlet Pearl.

He first worked for Hill at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. “He helped me mature and grow in this business. He taught me to operate as if I was running my own personal business venture.”

Hatcher had never been to the Gulf Coast before, but liked what he saw. “I was happy to be working with my mentor again, so it was a perfect decision,” says Hatcher, who enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with friends and family.

“When I went in for the interview at Golden Nugget, I asked lots of questions to see if the role would be a good fit. I was very pleased by what I heard, and was excited to join the team, and apparently, they felt the same way about me,” Hatcher says.

He hopes to advance with the Golden Nugget, but doesn’t dismiss the fact that opportunities might dictate something else. It’s one of the facets newcomers have to face if they embark on a career in gaming.

“My advice if you want to try a new industry is to give it your all before you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you. Some realize early on that they just don’t have the appetite for it. Others, like myself, fall in love with it almost immediately.”

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Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.

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