I did a brief interview with The Welsh Paxman of Poker, Lee Davy, this week and he asked me if I thought that Poker Dealers got treated well at the table. (Read that interview on CalvinAyre.com here.)
The short answer was that, usually, “yes”, once they’d earned their stripes as a dealer, staff get treated pretty well, although sometimes players could be awful and it was not cool.
It got me to thinking about the specific ways in which players can be rotten to dealers/cardroom staff, and I thought I’d share some of them here so you can do a bit of self-analysis and work out if you are beloved of, or loathed by, your local poker dealing staff.
The Only Moaners
In any business, customer feedback is vital, and forces the providers of a service to make sure they are giving their clients a good deal for the money they pay to use the service, so a sensible dealer/poker operator should have no problem when a customer points out something is not up to scratch.
In the poker world there is a small sub-set of people who never think anything is good enough. They moan about the tables, the chairs, the lights, the cards and chips, the tournament structures, the temperature, the type of sport on the television, the valets, the dealers, the supervisors, the managers, the other punters… they moan about everything, all the time, and never, ever have a good word to say about anything… then they’re back in again the next night… and the next… and the next.
If a cardroom is honestly that bad, and never makes any moves to improve, you should not be frequenting it.
Make your point, give them a chance to fix it, and if they don’t, speak with your feet.
In most cardrooms, even the ones run by large casino groups, many decisions and changes are due to those front-line staff you see every day. When you tell them it’s all crap and never notice when something changes for the better, it will eventually stop them caring.
If you’re lucky, they’ll leave and go and work for a call-centre, but if you’re not, you’ll grind down your cardroom team until they are shells of humans who don’t know if anything they do is right anymore.
If it’s bad, say it… but if it’s good, say that too. It means a lot to the person who put it in place.
The Trainee Targeters
Guess what? NOBODY is born being able to deal Texas-Holdem.
It’s not the world’s most complicated game, admittedly, but it has a lot of variables, there is usually a huge amount of passion involved. When you first start out as a dealer, you are very likely to make a mistake and when nine massive men start shouting at you like you are the most stupid creature to ever scar the face of the earth, it can be absolutely soul destroying, for a dealer of either gender.
If you’re playing at a table where there is a trainee dealer, you are probably correct in assuming that you know more about the game than they do… but do you have to remind them of that every 18 seconds? Probably not.
I can understand if you are playing in an EPT final and the dealer is raw, but in 10 years in the business, I have never seen completely noob dealers anywhere near a large buyin game.
If you are sitting in a weekly £25 game and have paid £5 reg fee for dealing staff, equipment, supervisor and free soft drinks then you are absolute tool if you’re consistently ragging on a trainee dealer. These are most often young people in their first real job, and it’s unacceptable to make them feel like they will be forever incompetent because they are currently inexperienced.
Yes, okay, s/he accidentally flipped two cards face up and created a mis-deal on a hand where you would have got dealt JJ, and you haven’t seen a decent holding for 2hours, but let’s be honest… if you’re the type of person who’d rip into a new dealer then you probably would have overplayed it and busted anyway, so stop crying.
I have seen some potentially strong staff scared away because experienced players gave them no quarter at all in their first couple of weeks; and then had those same players moan at me a month later because there were no staff available to open a new table. You only get experienced dealers by letting them gain experience, don’t destroy them in their first week and feel smug about it.
Give the benefit of your experience in the way you would expect your own son/daughter to be treated, in the long run, it benefits the game you love.
The Rulings Rager
The dealers don’t make the rules. They should know the rules, but sometimes they go on a week’s holiday and something has changed when they return and a busy supervisor has forgotten to let them know.
I see this most often when there are Freelance dealers brought into a large, branded event that may be running on slightly different rules to how the normal games run in that room. It occurs between a confident dealer and a vocal local and is in serious danger of becoming a big, loud cock-measuring contest (female dealers and players not exempt, metaphorical cocks are meant).
Don’t try and argue a rulings point with a dealer, a good dealer won’t argue with you anyway, even if they are 100% sure they are right, they’ll call the floor as soon as trouble starts brewing.
If you think your dealer is trying to enforce a janky rule, ask them to call the floor, or just do it yourself; there is no shame in getting the organ grinder to make the call, don’t fight with the monkey.
If your dealer is being a dick, then nothing will shut her/him up quicker than the supervisor announcing s/he is wrong in front of everybody. Don’t waste your breath arguing with the dealer and giving them a detailed explanation of how it was when you worked in a cardroom in 1968, just call the damn floor.
Remember the floor’s decision is final, even if it’s wrong; throwing your toys out the pram because you don’t like it is just wasting everybody’s time. If you really believe you have a serious grievance, and that does happen sometimes, then take it to the cardroom manager, the casino manager, or if it gets that bad, follow the full operator complaints procedure, usually ending with regulating body inclusion.
Shouting, screaming and swearing in the cardroom will achieve nothing except raising your blood pressure and possibly getting you barred.
No decent cardroom supervisor will have a problem admitting they fucked up, or taking the time to explain why they didn’t, but if you can’t express how you feel wronged like a normal, socialised human-being then your point will never be taken seriously, they’ll think you’re just a mad guy.
The Game Grinder
If you slow the game down by consistently not keeping up with the action, failing to make your action clear, splashing the pot, launching cards into other players’ cards, tanking on every tiny decision or constantly breaking the rules/angle shooting, I promise you, your dealers hate you.
This is not an attack on new players, most new players get to grips with what’s happening very quickly, and nobody minds offering people who are new a little bit of patience and support; we were all there once.
It’s when the guy who plays 8 hours a night, four nights a week asks “is it on me?” every single hand that dealers want to see him spontaneously combust and slowly burn. If you’re giving 40 hours a week over to live poker and still have no clue what’s going on, you are not suited to the environment, seriously, piss off to the golf course and wander around confusedly with the old men.
Cardroom supervisors should take this into account, and if you’re at a table with a habitual game slower, as a dealer or as a player, flag it up to them.
I once booted an experienced guy off a cash table full of recreational whales because he’d been slowing the game down for two hours, despite repeated warnings. The next night he was suddenly capable of playing at a sensible pace… funny that!
The Dealer Blamer
Sometimes you are card dead for two hours. It happens to everybody, and it’s not the dealer’s fault.
Sometimes your Aces get cracked. It happens to everybody, and it’s not the dealer’s fault.
There is a really annoying group of players who blame everything that is shit about Texas Hold ‘Em on the dealer, and yet when they get it allin with just 5% equity and hit a miracle card, they are the best player in the world for making a move at the right time and the dealer has nothing to do with that bit of it.
If you habitually (an occasional joke is fine) blame the dealer for getting a run of terrible cards, then think about what you’re saying, you are effectively calling them a cheat. Is that fair, or logical?
Do you actually think that, if these local cardroom dealers could set a deck and deal exact cards to exact positions, they’d be dealing for minimum wage? Nope. They’d be a high-roller cash room in Vegas creaming money off pissed-up millionaires.
I’m not saying that dealers never, ever cheat, but if you think it’s happening against you, all the time, in a 50p-£1 game at a local club, you need to spend more time studying where your real leaks might be and calm the fuck down.
The Stinky Stinker
Why do the smelliest players always want to sit in seat 1 or seat 10?
They pick up their cards and the dealer’s nose wrinkles, they scoop in a pot and the dealer gags, they cheer when they bink the river and everybody at the table wants to vomit.
Just take it as fact that you need to have a shower at least once every other day, clean your teeth and put some clean underpants on at least once a week.
I’m not being preachy, as I write this I sit in stinking pyjamas and haven’t washed my crevices in four days. I’m a disgusting human being, I know… but I’m playing online tonight, alone in my study. If I was going to see other humans, I’d wash my bits first.
Don’t be a stinker, nobody likes those doods.
This week, the players have come under fire, but next week I’ll be looking at “Dickhead Dealers”, casting the eye to the other side of the table, and examining situations when the staff in cardrooms start to become a blot on the poker landscape.
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