Last week I wrote a post having a pop at certain types of players that drive dealers nuts, but sometimes the dealers get out of line and piss players off, so this week I’m going to turn my rude and critical rage onto them.
I do not believe there is one perfect dealer type because there is not one type of customer; a full spectrum of personalities is required to have a strong regular dealing team, and each will have strengths and weaknesses.
In most cardrooms the dealer will change at least every 90mins or so, meaning that every customer type will encounter a dealer they like at some point during the night.
It’s unlikely every dealer in your cardroom will be your favourite, but I think there are some dealer types that need to be eliminated from the poker world, not just because I don’t like them, but because they are actively detrimental to the long term sustainability of live poker.
The “Ego” Dealer
Every cardroom has one, until the cardroom supervisor takes him/her into the office and beats the shit out of them with a rack of chips.
Employment laws prevent this? This country’s gone to the dogs when that’s not allowed, but it explains why the “Ego” dealer still exists.
Some dealers look fundamentally bored from the start to the finish of their shift, they roll their eyes at everything every player does and they rarely engage with a player except to indicate that the player is somehow wasting their time.
The main reason this dealer is annoying is that they are invariably too disinterested to actually be technically brilliant at their job; they are usually sloppy with chip handling, slow with shuffling because they’re so bored, make errors because they’re watching the television and fail to get any interaction going on a table of entirely new customers. You can spot them in the staff room because they are the first one to complain that punters never tip.
These dealers are most usually students using the poker dealing gig as a stepping stone job, and they somehow think they’re above it. They could have got a job stacking shelves or working in bar, but they were clearly too “cool” for that. They are often intelligent people who think the customers and other team members are below them and fail to see their own lack of social and technical skills because their egos are just too big.
They are not to be confused with “The Machine Dealer”, an excellent class of dealer that will not say much, but will take great pride in their technical skills, rarely make a mistake and always control their table.
While the “Machine” is not a great choice for a table full of drunk recreational players, the “Machine” does not have an overwhelming ego, s/he has a strong sense of pride and makes up for an inability or unwillingness to socially engage with technical ability that makes other dealers jealous. The “Machine” can be trusted to deal games at the highest level with the most experienced and tricky players, the “Ego” dealer only thinks they can.
The “Ego” dealer has no skill, and no passion for the environment, and without one of those two ingredients, they should not be working in a cardroom.
The “Best Mates” Dealer
These are the dealers that think they are “best mates” with the regulars and exclude (or even worse, mock) new/unknown players for the amusement of their “best mates”.
They have in-jokes with the regs, they let regular players get away with murder and leap on the tiniest infraction from an unknown.
They make sarcastic comments about noobs’ play and suck the balls of the regulars when they play badly. They laugh at all the regulars’ jokes and yearn to hang out with them on their days off. They brag about the tournaments they’ve played in and the poker celebrities they’ve dealt to as part of their sycophantic journey towards becoming “one of the popular boys” (even if they’re a girl dealer, no sexism here).
These dealers are rarely massively experienced, because it’s usually not long into one’s dealing career that you learn that none of the punters are your real friends, they are your customers.
A dealer can suck up to a punter all they want, as soon as they make a ruling the punter doesn’t like, they’ll realise that guy is not their friend.
These dealers are really bad for the poker industry because they make new players uncomfortable: at best a feeling of social exclusion, at worst a feeling that the game integrity is compromised in favour of the regs.
The best dealers remember the regs and have banter, but never forget to be warm and welcoming to new players, including them in the conversations and making them feel like this is a cardroom they are wanted in as a regular themselves.
The “Life-Story” Dealer
This is the dealer that only ever talks about themselves and bores the balls off punters by swinging every conversation round to their story. You know the sort of person; you say you went skiing, and they jumped off a mountain on a snowmobile with a parachute. You say you swam with sharks, and they killed a shark with a toothpick and pair of tweezers. You say you got a beautiful new girlfriend and they say they have 18 slavish wives who are all super-models.
This personality type is everywhere, but there’s no need for it at a poker table from the only person guaranteed to be earning an hourly wage to be there.
Being professionally sociable is a tricky balance, and the best dealers can get an atmosphere going on a quiet, awkward table, and then shut the hell up when the players are starting to get to know each other.
They know the limit of talking about themselves, and never, ever dominate the conversation. The “Life Story” dealer is usually a slow dealer, because they want more time to tell their own fascinating anecdotes and forget what they’re actually there for.
If a dealer can’t find the balance between being professionally social and being the most boring dood at the party, then they’re best to shut-up entirely and work on becoming a “Machine” dealer.
If they physically can’t stop their self-involved logorrhoea (posh word for verbal diarrhoea), they should perhaps change careers and work in an old people’s home, where their clients will be too deaf or too lonely to be annoyed by their endless stream of bullshit.
The “Poker Expert” Dealer
This guy… this guy knows everything there is to know about poker. He knows every format inside out and makes sure every customer at the NLHE table knows that the only “real” format to play is Korean 24 Card Wild Spin Swap Out Ferengi Jihad, or some other game he made up yesterday. He knows exactly what every player should do in every possible spot and he’s not afraid to say it; usually with a very GTO explanation that he’s repeating verbatim from the last article he read.
This dealer has a comment to make on every well-known player, usually how fundamentally terrible they are and how s/he’d skin them if given the chance to play against them.
Some new players like this type of dealer, because they (misguidedly) believe the dealer is actually an expert on playing poker, and feel like they might learn something.
Very experienced players hate this dealer because they ask the valid question why the “Poker Expert” is dealing the game for minimum wage and not playing with the nose-bleed stakes opponents they claim they could crush.
The worst side of the “Poker Expert” dealer shines through when they make a mistake, which all dealers do occasionally, even the best ones.
When the “Poker Expert” makes a mistake, it will always be followed with a long and detailed explanation of how it wasn’t their fault.
It was always due to the quality of the equipment, the expression on one of the players’ faces, the guy who wrote the rules, the level of the music or maybe even Global Warming.
The “Poker Expert” dealer cannot ever be seen to be wrong; he cannot face the shame.
The best dealers always say “I’m sorry, my bad”, even in the cases it’s not their fault, because sometimes a cock-up in the game flow does happen because of something else, but they accept responsibility anyway because they are master of the table.
By just accepting responsibility every single time, a good dealer keeps the game moving and stops any ugly ego-eruptions between players.
If a “Poker Expert” dealer can’t learn to admit their own mistakes they should quit and become a politician.
So does all this mean I think I was the world’s best dealer? Oh hell no.
If you want a dealer on a table full of brand new players with a view to teach them the game, I’m definitely your girl.
If you need a socially awkward low-stakes table warmed up, then I’d be a great choice.
If you have a table of high-stakes, serious players who have no time for silly errors and inane jokes and chatter, then you need someone who’s not me.
I will say I was always very good at taking responsibility for mistakes, and whilst my technical skills were never at the absolute top of the game, I always had a mad passion for the environment.
My dealing career left behind some players who loved me, and some players who thought I was a total bell-end, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, all the time.
If you think you’re faced with a DickHead Dealer, tell them, tell their supervisor and give them some back; let’s get them out and make room for dealers who could be really good at the job.