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What is the difference between a shill and a proposition player? What skills are needed to be one?

Author: John Murphy
Last updated: 1996
Copyright © 2004 John Murphy
The official and up-to-date version of this answer is here.

A shill is paid by the house at an hourly rate, and plays with house money. A prop is paid by the house and plays with his own money. Many states require cardrooms to identify house players if asked, but may not require them to do so otherwise. Shills and props are directed to games by the house. This means that they may be constantly shifted to tougher games, as non-house players boot them out of seats in juicy games. The most important skill for a prop is to be able to excel in all games, since they may be called to play any game that the house offers, against players who specialize in that game. Also, be they must be prepared to sit and wait if all games are full.