Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fuss over a chip

I played at the Venetian again today. In an extraordinarily rare occurrence, I picked up two old chips that were not previously in my collection, and that I didn't even know existed. The Venetian hasn't issued any new styles of chips since opening the Palazzo a year or two ago, so this was kind of a big deal for me. (You can get a sense of how exciting my life is from the fact that this sort of things makes my day.)

The chip on the right I spotted just a few hands before I left for the day. The player who had it in his pot was kind enough to exchange it for a regular one, since he wasn't a collector. No problem.

But the chip shown above on the left came with a story.

I was fiddling with my MP3 player and not paying attention to the hand or the pot, when the dealer asked, "Does anybody here collect poker chips?" I said that I do. Just before pushing the pot to the winner, she picked up the chip from the pot and showed it to me, noting that it's quite rare to see those in circulation. I was happy to trade her a regular chip for it, and stuck the new treasure in my pocket.

At that point, the guy two seats to my right, having witnessed the transaction, spoke up, saying something about taking chips off the table. By then I had my music back on, so I didn't hear him exactly. But then the dealer, with a pretty disgusted look on her face, told me, "He wants you to replace the chip you took off the table."


Let me interrupt the story to tell you about this guy. I had been playing with him for a couple of hours by that point, and he was getting on my nerves, easily the most annoying person at the table. I'll list his sins:

1. He was enormously obese, so fat that he couldn't sit up to the table in the normal manner. He had to sit sideways to the table, thus taking up a lot more than his fair share of space.

2. He was constantly doing something on his phone--more constantly than I have ever witnessed anybody doing before at a poker table. I have no idea if he was texting everybody in the western hemisphere, or playing a game, or web surfing, or what. Whatever it was, the dealer had to get his attention virtually every time it was his turn. He was slowing the game down every time the action came around to him, so absorbed was he in his damn phone.

3. He would put his chips just barely over the line, every time, no matter how many times various dealers asked him to push them forward more so that they could reach them. He just wouldn't. I.e., he would ignore their requests until either one of the players next to him would brush the chips toward the dealer, or the dealer would reach/adjust/half-stand-up/whatever to be able to get out that far. Then, of course, the next time he put money into the pot, he would do it exactly the same way, and again completely ignore any plea the dealer might make to give a little help.

4. He whined. The only talking he did was whining--about bad beats, bad cards, bad service, etc.

If Santa keeps a separate list of Naughty Poker Players, this dude is on it every year, I guarantee. He's just obnoxious. He must be a regular, though I don't remember seeing him before, because every single dealer knew his name without looking down at the little players-card-reading computer display.

So even before the chip incident came up, this guy was on my Do Not Like Even One Little Bit list. His one redeeming quality, as far as I was concerned, was that he repeatedly made the big hero call all-in when he should have known that he was beat. The world needs a whole lot more players as bad as he is. (Sadly, though, I was never the one benefiting from his donkeyhood.)

Back to the story, now that you understand how this ass had already irritated the bejeezus out of me.


As I was taking out my wallet to fish for a $5 bill in order to placate the jerk and end the controversy (it wasn't really for him that I was agreeing; my main motivation was to prevent the poor dealer from having to step into the matter further, or make a decision, or call for the floor), I turned to him and said, "I don't mind doing so, but would you make the same request if I had tipped the cocktail waitress with a $5 chip?"

The guy said, quite defensively, "It's not the same thing at all!"

I decided to pass over exploring the logic of that conclusion--or lack thereof--with him. You know the old saw about not engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

But I did fix him in my gaze and asked, "Has anybody ever called you a nit?"*

This, folks, counts as major-league nastiness in my book. It is not exactly appalling conduct on my part, under the circumstances, but this is as bad as I ever get. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have snapped at another player in a manner comparable to this. I just don't do angry or mean, at least not beyond this pretty mild level.

His only response was to mutter, "I've probably been called everything that a person can be called."

That I believe, sir. That I believe.

Incidentally, I wrote about the rules and ethics and pragmatic aspects of snagging a commemorative chip from the table two years ago, here. I said then, "Since nobody would or could possibly object to, say, giving a cocktail waitress a $5 chip as a tip, it's a bit crazy to think that anybody would care about removing the same amount of money as a souvenir." I have pocketed hundreds of collector chips now, never try to hide what I'm doing, and have never had anybody object. I guess I just hadn't run into a sufficiently high level of "crazy" until today. When I'm going to a place that has a high likelihood of me running into new chips that I'll want to take home (Palms and Rio, mainly), I usually take along with me a few extra chips from that casino (yes, I have chips from lots of different casinos lying around here--don't ask why, they just kind of accumulate unbidden) so that I can make the exchange. This is more about getting those dormant chips from my apartment back into circulation and working for me than it is to prevent objections about going south, but it has the ancillary effect of preventing any concerns along those lines, too.

* On the subject of nittiness, see this amusing thread on "You Might Be a Nit If...." (Hat tip to my blogger/dealer friend --S for the pointer to this in his recent post on the subject.)

1 comment:

--S said...

Speaking of nits, had a good one the other night:

4-handed $2/4 limit game, nit in the 5 seat. 3-seat tosses his bet into the middle of the table and one of the chips rolls over the rail onto the floor.

A quick glance under the table shows me the chip is less than an inch from the nit's seat.

"Sir, can you pick up that chip for me?"

He makes a show of glancing towards the ground on either side of his chair, says nothing, does nothing, and returns to staring at the middle of the table.

"Seriously, can you please grab that chip? It's less than an inch from your foot."

Again, he makes the same show of looking at the floor, then doing and saying nothing.

The 3-seat says "Screw it," and tosses a replacement chip into the pot.

At the end of the hand, as I'm pushing the pot, I watch as the nit bends down, retrieves the errant chip, and places it neatly on top of one of his chip stacks.

I took great pride in being the dealer to bust said player later that morning.