Friday, September 11, 2009

Another Luxor session, another bad dealer

No surprise, really. But this time it took until near the end of the session (which was spent with Cardgrrl at the same table, something we haven't done in months) for the badness to be manifested.

The dealer was James. The "high hand of the day" was 5-5-5-5. That is, if one had pocket 5s and found the other two on the board, it was a $500 bonus. The flop came 4-5-5. Instantly, James said, "Oh, who's got those pocket 5s?"

It is perfectly appropriate, even laudable, for dealers to make sure that players know what jackpots and promotions are available, and what the rules and conditions for them are. (Side story: A young woman at the table hit quad aces and simply called an opponent on the river, rather than raising, because, as she explained, she erroneously thought that if he folded to a raise, there wouldn't be a showdown and she would lose eligibility for the high hand jackpot.) But a dealer should not volunteer this information in the middle of a hand in which doing so might alert players to something going on that they might otherwise have missed, and thus queer the action.

For example, suppose there had been a large raise preflop in this hand from a player with A-A, and a call. The raiser is contemplating what range of hands his opponent might have. He is unaware of the "5555" promotion. After seeing the flop of 4-5-5, he is not worried that his opponent could have 5-5 in the hand, because he thinks that his preflop raise was large enough to push out small pocket pairs. Now that the dealer points out the promotion, however, he realizes that 5-5 is, in fact, within his opponent's calling range, because that player might be willing to call an unusually large amount for the chance to hit the big bonus. If the opponent does actually have 5-5, the dealer's comment may reduce the amount that the player with quads gets from Mr. Aces, because now the latter is on alert. Conversely, even if nobody has the quads, the dealer's comment may increase the raiser's level of caution and cause smaller bets, or maybe even checking a street where he might otherwise have bet. In another scenario, perhaps a player who has poor eyesight or is too drunk to see the cards clearly thought that the flop was 4-5-6 instead of 4-5-5, and is about to play accordingly, until the dealer's comment draws extra attention to the fact that the board is paired.

Dealers simply must refrain from any comments that could potentially change how players play their hands. The Luxor dealers routinely ignore this mandate, and last night's incident was just the latest in a long line of such improper actions I've seen and documented here.

The most plausible explanation for the dealer's interjection here is that he wanted to be sure not to miss a possible large tip coming from a player who didn't know about the promotion and quietly mucked quads rather than showing them at the end of the hand. In other words, he selfishly puts his own needs ahead of the integrity of the game. I find that despicable.

This same dealer frequently, though not consistently, told players, "Nice hand," or "Good bet." Again, this seems likely designed to remind people to tip him, without overtly saying so. Cardgrrl has ranted about the wrongness of such dealer comments here. As she points out, this puts the dealer in the position of playing favorites--complimenting one player while ignoring or compounding the irritation or pain of the loser(s) of the hand.

She and I had a long talk about James on the way back from Luxor last night. She found this habit of his much more annoying than pointing out the possible quads. Conversely, I thought the quads thing was much worse, because it has the potential to compromise the integrity of the game, while the compliments are merely rude and irritating (and, admittedly, possibly bad for the game), but don't affect what is actually transpiring in a hand, because it's over by then.

As a final bit of unprofessionalism, both Cardgrrl and I felt a noticeable grating on the nerves when James called her "Honey" at one point.

Because of all of my griping about the Luxor dealers, it's probably only fair that I point out, again, that there are a few notable exceptions there--dealers who do their jobs very well indeed. One of the true standouts is Mark. If you've played there, you likely will have noticed him, if only because he keeps his hair cut in keeping with the pyramid theme of the Luxor, which is kind of a cool and interesting touch. More importantly, though, he is a real pro, in my experience. He keeps the game moving well, makes very few errors, is alert to players' needs, proactively deals with potential problems (e.g., last night he was the only dealer that noticed players who were inadvertantly flashing their cards while mucking, and politely reminded them to keep the cards down), uniformly enforces rules, and is unfailingly friendly and polite.

Why don't they make him the poker room manager, and have him teach his pathetic, hopeless, loser colleagues how to do their jobs right?

1 comment:

Keiser said...

"Why don't they make him the poker room manager, and have him teach his pathetic, hopeless, loser colleagues how to do their jobs right?"

Because he doesn't know enough people.

Sad truth of the casino/poker industry is that it's still run like this. If you know enough people, you can get a good job. Once a dealer gets a full time job, they can get as sloppy as they want and they won't get fired. This means there are dozens of young, very honed and skillful dealers who love poker, but are unable to get a job dealing because people like this are wasting space.

If I ran a poker room I would routinely watch and/or audition my own dealers. If they start getting sloppy and don't shape up after I tell them what I've seen, bring in someone better.