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The Poker Player’s Manifesto: Part X - Colleagues II

by Bryan Devonshire |  Published: Dec 24, 2014


Bryan DevonshireIn the last column, we talked about interacting with others in poker that aren’t poker players. We discussed respecting the keeper of the list and the floor person, tipping them out appropriately for services rendered to ensure those services continue. We talked about dealing with problem dealers and how the solution is to remain calm and go to the floor person if necessary rather than starting a fight. Yelling will never help your cause, no matter how right you are. Around that point, I ran out of words with much more to say and thus we have this second part to interacting with our poker colleagues. In this issue we will continue our discussion on dealers, talk about the other people like media and cocktail servers, plus talk about tipping.

We all have plenty of things that we can get upset with dealers about, but this isn’t The Poker Dealer’s Manifesto. It is important for us to handle our disputes peacefully if we ever want anything resolved. And, like most things in life, the best way to effect change is to begin with our own behavior. Our actions at the poker table go a long way toward a good poker game.

Do everything you can to make life easier on the dealer. I like to do this because it’s the right thing to do, but even if you’re a selfish jerk you should still see the prudence in keeping the poker game running smoothly. More hands equals more profit for winning players, and, if you are not a winning player, then you should be focusing more on having fun than being a jerk. If the dealer gets the cards and pots to you, then you should get your cards and chips to the dealer. When you fold, get your cards as close to the muck as possible, at least within the range of the dealer’s non stub-holding hand.

When you bet, it should be within reach of the dealer. If playing limit, cut out your chips so the dealer doesn’t have to count them. If you bet out of reach of the dealer, that’s okay, as long as you push it to the dealer when it is time to, either when opponents ask for a count or after the bet has been called. Always make sure the dealer can see your hand, it’s how they keep track of who is in the hand.

If you see a mistake, say something immediately before it is too late, and say, “I think such and such happened,” even if you know you are right. Let them verify the error and fix it themselves, and, if they cannot, then call the floor. If you are wrong, apologize. It’s better to be sure though and it is the player’s responsibility to assist the dealer with the integrity of the game. This includes tabled hands and bet matching and such.

Many people consider old school rules where players are encouraged to keep quiet, citing one player to a hand. This is true, however, when public things happen that the dealer should be keeping straight go wrong, they should be made right. One player shouldn’t win the pot when a better hand was tabled, nor should any player accidentally put too much or too little into a pot. If the player next to you shows you a hand better than that tabled hand over there at showdown, then throws it in the muck, this is when it is your responsibility to shut up, because the hand was never tabled, and by saying, “hey that’s a winning hand,” you are breaking the one player per hand rule.

Keep your chips countable with the big ones out front so others don’t have to ask you to do so. Don’t be the douchebag who accumulates all the small chips and refuses to make change. You only need enough small chips to make it through an entire hand of betting without saying anything. I don’t like to talk in a hand either because I don’t want to give out information. Therefore, you never need more than 12 green chips for four bets involving a 75, 16 black chips for four bets of 400, and so on and so forth. You really don’t need that many, but you can never argue needing more than that. If the ante is 25 and you have green chips, you should only use a 100 chip if you have very few green chips. If the dealer has to get out of their chair to interact with your cards or chips, then you are doing it wrong.

The media is a special community within poker. They are here because they love the game. If you are ever fortunate enough to be asked for an interview, graciously accept and be humble. If you’re good at poker then you understand that you had to be really lucky to win a bunch of money in a tournament, and if you’re not good then you’re still just a guy who got lucky to win a bunch of money. Being nice and humble will only further your cause, so again, even if you are a selfish bastard, it still behooves you and your bottom line to be nice and gracious. If people like you more, then they will offer you more opportunity.

Tipping is an important aspect of the service industry. They are paid minimally to keep prices down, and tips ensure that quality people are working in those positions. If we under-tip dealers, then good dealers eventually stop dealing to us. If we don’t tip cocktail servers, then good luck getting a cocktail. I understand that tipping negatively affects our bottom line, but I also understand that not tipping negatively affects it more.

I don’t like to tip when tips have already been taken out. I also won’t tip for poor service. I like to tip dealers individually who have been exceptional, and my personal favorite is to do something nice for the dealers. After my first quarter million dollar score in Reno, I took all the dealers out to dinner and invited them to party at the club. We had a blast. They appreciate that tip much more than a few extra bucks in a bucket that get spread between a bunch of pockets.

Quite simply, be nice. Treat people with respect. Tip accordingly. Behave well. I don’t think it’s that hard, but I’ve spent enough time in a poker room to know that it is hard for many people. Chill out, man. if you’re a winner, then relax. Keep the game pleasant. If you’re a loser, then relax and have fun. If you’re not having fun and can’t relax, then find a different hobby. ♠

Bryan Devonshire has been a professional poker player for nearly a decade and has more than $2 million in tournament earnings. Follow him on Twitter @devopoker.