Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finger-lickin': bad!



I did an afternoon session today at the MGM Grand.

The second dealer in the box was the man pictured above. His nametag says "Sammy." On one of the first hands he dealt, I thought I saw him touch his fingers to his tongue just before pitching the cards. It was completely unexpected, though, so I thought maybe I misinterpreted something.

I watched more carefully on the next hand--and he did it again. And again. And again. And again.

Sammy licks his fingers before every deal.

Specifically, he licks the tips of the index and middle fingers of his right hand. He is left-handed, so this seems even stranger than it would otherwise be. It took me a while watching him to figure out what was going on. He doesn't use a standard dealer's grip on the deck. He has those two fingers all the way around the cards, but the fingertips aren't grasping the edge of the deck as one would usually expect. Instead, he uses them to help feed (from underneath) the next card out so that it can be grabbed by his dominant left hand. I have to assume that a little moisture on the fingertips aids in this function.

But, EWWWW! Has he never thought about what he's doing? Does he really think that what poker players most fervently wish for is that the dealer adds his saliva to the cards before dealing them?

I immediately sent out a Gross Alert on Twitter. The response from my poker-playing friends was swift, harsh, decisive, and unanimous:




I have watched hundreds of poker dealers over the last four years, and this is only the second one that I've seen lick his fingers as part of his routine. The first one was working at one of the most disgusting poker dives in the county, Jokers Wild in Henderson. I wrote up that experience when it happened, back in August of 2007, here.

I don't think I can improve on how I expressed my feelings about the matter back then:

But--to finally get to the point of this post--I did see something there
that I've never witnessed before. You know how some clerical workers,
particularly those of a certain age, have an ugly little habit of licking a
thumb or index finger in order to leaf through a stack of papers? Well, I saw a
poker dealer at Jokers Wild doing that for the cards. Why? Because they were
stickier than average (as were the chips).

It made me shudder. Think of all the ickiness that players bring to the
table on their hands and spread all over the cards and chips. Imagine getting
all of that crud on your hands, then LICKING your thumb to help you get a good
hold on the corner of the card. Not only should this be patently disgusting to
the dealer, but we get to watch him add his saliva to the mix of filth that's
already on the cards. No wonder they get sticky. All I could think when watching
this was one word, a whole bunch of times:

ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh

To the Jokers Wild dealer (you know who you are): Dude, you is NASTY!


I would not be as surprised if I had seen this at some other horrid little poker room, like Terrible's, or Hooters, or the Tuscany, or Stratosphere, or Sahara, official home to the worst poker dealers in the city. But at the MGM, one of the five or six largest poker rooms we have here? In my experience, MGM dealers are usually top-notch. I have come to expect--and observe--high standards of professionalism among them.

To the MGM poker room manager: Why do you tolerate this? I mean, I can't really be the first and only person who has ever noticed and complained about this, can I? It's not exactly subtle or hidden. He does it every single hand. Do you really want to be ranked with Jokers Wild in terms of the griminess of your dealers? Do you not care about spreading cold and flu viruses among your players, and between your dealers and players, and from one dealer to the next one that will handle those decks of cards? I sure hope that putting spit on the cards doesn't void the warranty of the Shufflemasters.

To my readers: I am going to try hard to get this post in front of the eyes of the poker room manager at MGM. If I get a reaction with permission to publish it, I'll add it in an addendum here. But whether I do or not, please help me follow up on this. If you play at the MGM and you see Sammy in the box, watch him. If he continues this vile practice, ask him to stop, and/or speak to the shift supervisor. Right now they may claim (dubiously) not to have known about it before, but if it continues after they have been unequivocally put on notice that it is happening, then we will necessarily have to infer that it's because it's perfectly OK with the casino's management. They endorse the addition of dealers' bodily fluids to the cards and chips that you handle.

Let them know how you feel about that, won't you?

7 comments:

OhCaptain said...

Dude! I'm almost positive that Sammy was a dealer at the infamous #Table16 at the Gathering in December. I'm about 90% sure he was.

Rakewell said...

Actually, now that you mention it, I remember that, too. I wasn't playing, but watched for a while. At one point it looked like he had just about had it with the antics, but then somebody yelled something like, "Everybody tip!" and every player threw him a dollar chip all at once, and suddenly his scowl turned all smiley.

Anonymous said...

i am surprised sammy gave you permission to take his picture and post it on the internet, as i am sure you would not have done so otherwise, it being a gross invasion of privacy and all

briguyx said...

This reminds me that while watching some recent NBA games featuring the Phoenix Suns, I realized that before every foul shot, Steve Nash licks his fingers before touching the ball! Yechh!

The Poker Meister said...

LOL Julius Goat's comment. "Put a booger on the next tip" Priceless!

Anonymous said...

that is a bit different though. licking your fingertips to gain traction on the ball, that is. while still gross, it at least helps a bit.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure this is the same dealer who often makes a strange move when pushing a big pot. He will push most of the pot but leave a few chips behind. He pauses, then goes back to get the last few chips. I think he hopes you will say, "Oh keep it." See if you notice him doing this the next time you play there.