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One Time, Dealer

by Dealer Chick |  Published: Jan 16, 2019

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a dealer on the circuit grind? Have a question about behavior, etiquette, or anything else related to running a poker game? Do you want to know what dealers really think about while they’re pitching cards? What it takes to become a dealer? How you should treat dealers? Are dealers people, too?

Send your questions for The Dealer Chick (TDC) to editor@cardplayer.com, and read on for more advice, adventures, and real talk about life on the road for a traveling poker dealer.


But, Why Rules?

Hey Dealer Chick,

Why are some dealers such sticklers about the rules of the game? Don’t they know we’re here to have fun? I’m sick of getting yelled at when I paid to play.

Signed,

Players Just Wanna Have Fun


Dear Just Wanna,

You’re either a middle child, or you’re… that guy. I’ll assume you’ve stopped whining in time for my logical and well-rounded response.

I’m going to defend dealers and say, “Really, Bro? Do you think we enjoy constantly having to remind players of the rules they already know?” Think about how that is the opposite of fun for us. Trust me, dealers only want to pitch cards, enjoy their down and get 15 more just like it so they can strip off their dealer blacks, grab a beer with some friends and maybe play a little poker, too. Or go fishing. Or watch the game. Or sleep.

I’m not sure what’s worse: having to tell a grown man for the hundredth time what the rules are or having to listen to him argue with me about why he should be an exception this one time (Note: Don’t use your “one time, dealer” on a rules violation. Save your OTD so you can crack pocket aces with your 9-5 offsuit like everyone else).

Arguments/excuses I hear at every event, every time:

“But…I’m only changing songs on my iPod!”

Dude, I don’t care. I. Really. Do. Not. Care. Put the frigging electronic device down and pay attention to the game. Celine Dion’s greatest hits can wait. An iPod, seriously? Learn to stream.

“But…I was talking to myself!”

They say that talking to yourself is a sign of genius, but they don’t play poker. They are not sitting with nine other players who are listening to them wax eternal about their odds of hitting their straight if they chase. Yes, you and your big mouth have the power to influence action. So, do us all a favor: If you haven’t mastered the art of table talk that doesn’t break the rules, shut up.

“But…he’s not in the hand!”

Um…he’s not in this hand. But he will be in many hands with you later, so why are you giving him information about your folding patterns? And why are you doing it during a live hand? What is it about his comb-over that screams “solid poker face” to you? Do you think because he offered you the cup holder that he doesn’t want all your chips? Did you forget this is a competition?

“Aw, man, I knew my 8-4 off was gonna hit!”

Oh, how we love post-flop-reactionary-guy. I lied. We don’t. He’s a moron. Have respect for the live hand in play. And on a side note: perhaps letting the table full of grinders know that you play results-oriented poker isn’t the best strategy. I know, I know, all poker players lie. But their body language doesn’t, and very few of them could win an Oscar for their ability to Hollywood.

And then there’s this guy:

The hand is over, and he says, “I folded J-6.”

Is it a violation of the rules to say what you folded once the hand is over? No, but can we be real? NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU FOLDED. I’d literally be more interested in hearing about that particularly bad case of hemorrhoids you couldn’t get rid of back in 1995. I’d be more enchanted by a story about your 35-year-old waste-of-space dependent who refuses to move, or perhaps a funny little anecdote about that time you stepped in cat vomit? Just spare me the details of what you folded. Please, please spare me.

The irony of this rules stuff is simple. Players want rules enforced on everyone but themselves. I love it (hello, sarcasm) when a player says, “But the last dealer didn’t enforce that rule!” Perhaps your last dealer didn’t know that rule, is too jaded to care about the rules or is just a lazy chunk of cow-pie.

I have a reputation for not letting players get away with stuff. Players who know me will chuckle and tell a new player, “Oh, don’t try that on her table, she’ll bring the hammer down! She’s tough!” This makes me laugh for two reasons: First, I’m super nice. Like, the-more-riled-you-get-the-nicer-I-am kind of nice. Second, I’m only trying to protect the integrity of the game, and you in the process.

People say that a dealer’s job is to facilitate the action and keep the game moving. That’s only half of it. The other half of a dealer’s responsibility is to protect the game and the players. Often, we end up protecting you from yourself. In an all-in situation once, I had a player roll her eyes at me and complain when I told her to get off her phone. “But I’m all-in!” Yes, and there’s still side action taking place, and even if there wasn’t, I’m protecting you. What if another player at the table wants to make a big deal out of you using your phone while you’re all-in? Maybe they call the Floor, and the Floor rules your hand dead. I’m not saying that’s always the call, but bad calls happen all the time. Do you really want to risk your tournament life on a bad call? I don’t want that which is why I like to nix it before it gets there. A gentle reminder to put the phone down, a nicely-worded warning to act in turn, or a stern look with a well-timed joke that gets you to stop commenting on the live action (“Thanks, Norman Chad!” is a personal favorite).

Yes, there are dealers out there that love the power trip of being in charge. I’ve even seen dealers use their time in the box to “teach” players about rules which is even more annoying than guess-what-I-folded-guy. Most dealers enforce the rules because it’s their job, and to protect the game and you. Rules are there to make it hard for the angle shooters to succeed. When we get on your case it’s nothing personal. We’re trying to be consistent and fair. But to be honest, we’d really love it if you’d play poker and leave all the, “But I don’t wanna!” cry-baby crap at home. ♠