Win A $1,000 Tournament Ticket To The Event Of Your Choice!

One Time, Dealer: Who’s Tilting Who?

by Dealer Chick |  Published: Oct 09, 2019


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, and read on for more advice, adventures, and real talk about life on the road for a traveling poker dealer.

Dear Dealer Chick,

I have seen a player put on tilt by another player, but I have not seen a dealer put a player on tilt until the other day. I was at my usual casino of two years (I know everyone, and everyone knows me) when a dealer change was occurring. The new dealer at my table would be doing her very first table/hand for the day when this event occurred.

There was a hand between two players on opposite ends of the table, one player at seat three and the other at seat eight. I was seated at seat six. The hand went all the way to showdown and both players showed their cards. The dealer was scooping the pot and awarding it to the player in seat three. I was trying to help the dealer by grabbing seat eight’s cards that were at the betting line when the dealer said, “Don’t touch the cards.”

I said, “I am trying to help.” The dealer responded that she “doesn’t need or want my help.” I got up from my seat and leaned over so that I was inches away from the dealer and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t help you, EVER!”

I don’t know if it was some kind of personal problem, or maybe the dealer’s drive in to work, but I felt like I was being kind and thoughtful in trying to help the dealer when the cards might be out of her reach. Do you think the dealer overreacted?


“Just Trying to Help”

Dear Trying,

Thanks for your sincere intentions, but I’m going to have to side with the dealer. Having said that, she could’ve at least said, “Please don’t touch the cards.” But you gave no indication that her tone was unpleasant or rude, so I have no reason to assume that she was anything short of professional. Since you admit that you took the time to lean over mere inches away from her and exclaim that you would not be helping her again ever, I do feel comfortable saying that you got butt hurt at being admonished—in front of all the peers that you know, and that know you so well—by a woman.

Many male dealers claim female dealers have it easier. I’ve heard countless male dealers comment on how our feminine attributes garner us more tips and an easier time at the table, if one ignores all the unwanted sexual advances, leg rubbing and leering, of course. I have said that no amount of cleavage can make up for poor dealing. I stand by that. But this situation highlights another aspect of the dealer/player relationship that male dealers don’t experience. Contending with the fragile male ego that cannot process being told what to do by a woman.

Oh, I said it. Fragile. Male. Ego.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t you in this case (maybe it was?), but so many times that is the underlying subtext. Can I tell you how many times I’ve been condescendingly referred to as “sweetheart” while simultaneously being told I’m wrong about a rule that I’m not wrong about? Male dealers aren’t exposed to this attitude. They do, however, know what it’s like to have their knowledge of the game questioned because every dealer knows what that feels like. This industry allows players to doubt dealers so much because, so few people view poker dealing as a real profession. Dealing is like waitressing to those who’ve never done it—the one job they would never sink so low to do, but if they did, oh, how much better they would be at it!


But, back to your dealer. First of all, dude, you weren’t even in the hand. I bring that up because in the course of your dealer doing her job—and by her job I mean the countless things she’s doing all at once—she sees a random hand reach for cards out of her peripheral vision. My first instinct would also be to say, “Don’t touch the cards, please.” Not because I wouldn’t appreciate someone pushing in cards that I couldn’t reach, but rather because we’re not there yet, and those aren’t your cards. Honestly, I’m more aghast that she pushed a pot before having killed the losing hand.

The thing is, well-intentioned players like yourself usually slow me down. When I push into a table, I count the well in cash, or start the shuffle in a tournament. Once I start shuffling, in between greeting my players, I’m eyeing the table to get the lay of the land. Where’s the button? Are the blinds posted properly? Is there a straddle posted? Is anyone hiding large denomination chips? Or, if in a tournament, are all the antes posted and if so, how will I make change for the big chips?

As I continue shuffling, I’m thinking, Okay, Seat One and Two each posted $50, Seat Three posted a $100 black chip. Seat Four posted a $500 pink chip. Seat Eight needs change, too. I’ll sweep Seat One’s chips together with Seat Two’s chips. I’ll leave two green chips behind in Seat Three as I swipe his black chip. I’ll do the same thing on the other side with Seat Eight and push them all in one continuous movement to Seat Five as I snag his pink chip, picking up everyone else’s antes along the way.

I look down as I place my deck on the table before the cut to make sure I didn’t accidentally drop a card. My hand reaches to the left to start my sweep. But when my hand and my gaze both land on Seat Three, guess what? Helpful players have made change and now I’m pushing two green chips towards him that he no longer needs, and Seat Eight is over there making change saying, “Hey, that’s for both of us!” Even though I’m not looking at him and I don’t know who “both of us” is, and all I want to do is say, “Stop helping! I had a plan! I got this!”

Instead, I smile, say thank you, and pitch the cards once it’s all figured out.

I realize to players this sounds convoluted, but to dealers, it makes perfect sense. Our heads are on a swivel. We’re always thinking about saving time. How can we combine two actions into one to save our backs from stretching so far? How can we get one more hand out? How can we streamline this whole process? Then a helpful player decides they can do it faster and jacks it up. Because 99 percent of you are neither faster nor more accurate.

Pushing cards closer to the dealer is not the same sin as messing up all the antes. But I’d be willing to bet that it wasn’t her ride in to work that had her on edge, but rather the countless times she’s had to justify her own skill set, fix a player’s mistake, or stop and wait as a player tried to make it easier for her as if she wasn’t doing a good job all on her own. I’m sorry that your sincere intentions were not met with the gratitude you felt they deserved, but nothing about this situation was even about you. There’s a lot of etiquette to poker. Sometimes, the nicest way to help is by doing nothing. Sit back and enjoy your game, get out of her way, and let her do her job. Trust that if she needs help, she’ll ask for it. ♠