Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Let me do my job!"

At the Imperial Palace tonight, I ran into a dealer who needs a serious attitude adjustment.

I was not involved in this hand, but the final board was 5-2-Q-5-2. After an all-in and call, a young woman showed her Q-2, and a young man showed his A-2. The dealer pushed up the two deuces and two fives on the board, and said, pointing to the woman, "Deuces full of fives," then pointing the man, "Deuces full of fives. Chop it up."

Three players--me, the woman with the winner, and one other--in chorus all said, "Deuces full of queens."

The dealer scowled, waved his hands, and said loudly and extremely gruffly, "Let me do my job! Let me do my job!" I don't know exactly where this guy is from, but it's obviously one of the former Eastern Bloc nations, so he has that Russianesque kind of accent. The whole display was startling and intimidating.

He instantly got the quiet he wanted. He didn't pause to reconsider the situation. Rather, he just set out on a mission to show us how we were wrong. He pointed to the woman's deuce and the four board cards he had previously pushed up, and said, as if he were explaining it to kindergarteners, "Deuces full of fives." Then he pointed to the man's deuce and the same four board cards and repeated, "Deuces full of fives." He grabbed chips to start stacking them, still obviously thinking it was to be a chopped pot.

The others were now quiet, but I was far more irritated by his manner than intimidated. I said again, "No, deuces full of queens."

He again gave me the nearly-shouted, "Let me do my job!"

I was about to call the floor over. I had already made my mind up that my introductory words to him were going to be, "You have a dealer who doesn't know how to read poker hands." I wouldn't ordinarily be that nasty and accusatory, but his whole I-know-better-than-you attitude had made me want to rub his face in his own excrement. Let him have the maximal embarrassment in front of his boss.

I was about a microsecond from calling for the floor when the dealer, slightly softened but still sounding edgy and confrontational, asked me, "Where do you see the queens?"

I reached across the table and pointed: one red queen on the board, one red queen in the player's hand.

Suddenly his entire expression and body language changed, as if he had seen a ghost. He said, "Oh--I see it now. Yes. It's deuces full of queens."

I wanted to give him an Inspector Clouseau line, from The Pink Panther Strikes Again: "That is what I have been saying, you idiot!" (See here for that scene.)

The problem here was not that he made a mistake. Dealers, like all people, make mistakes. That's not an issue. The only times that I've made a fuss in this blog about dealers' mistakes are when it's obvious that the dealer has a surprising misunderstanding of some point of the game that one would expect he or she would have gotten straight long ago, or when, as here, there is a refusal to acknowledge a mistake.

[Edit: I guess that's not really a complete list, and therefore not an especially accurate claim on my part. I'm now remembering times when I have griped about, e.g., a dealer who has made a critical mistake because of paying attention to a football game instead of a poker game, or a dealer who makes a very high frequency of mistakes because of chronically not paying attention, or a dealer who is clearly BS'ing a rule or explanation on the spur of the moment in order to cover his tracks. There are probably other categories. The point remains, though, that a dealer who just makes an ordinary error, such as in hand-reading, but quickly acknowledges and rectifies it, will never rise to the level of goading me to complain about it in writing. There has to be some other condemnable factor involved.]

The problem was attitude. When three players were simultaneously telling him that the hand was not what he thought it was (and it wasn't cacophonous; it was a moment of spontaneous almost choral harmony, three people saying exactly the same words at exactly the same time), he should have paused to wonder if he might be wrong, instead of just trying to press his point more forcefully. Everything about his demeanor in that brief interval conveyed, "You mere players couldn't possibly know enough to be challenging me." He might as well have been South Park's Cartman: "I am a cop and you will respect my authoritah!"

There are certainly times when a dealer needs to rather forcefully assert control over the table. Sometimes tables break out into squabbles, with everybody trying to talk at once, and as a result nobody is being heard and no useful information is being communicated in any direction. In those moments, a dealer has to be able to quiet down the group so that he can think without intrusion for a few seconds, or ask an important question, or explain what a rule is, or whatever. This was not such an occasion. We did not have a multitude of viewpoints and opinions being launched randomly. There was one unified voice, saying four words--and this dealer's reaction to it was over-the-top emotional and defensive.

The dealer who thinks he knows it all and is incapable of errors is much more of a problem than a brand-new one who makes a ton of mistakes but is willing and eager to fix them and try not to repeat them. I have all the patience in the world for the latter. But for this guy? None.

Tell you what, pal: I'll shut up and let you do your job as soon as you show that you know how to do it. That hasn't happened yet, but keep trying.

1 comment:

Keiser said...

*grumble* And it's dealers like this that don't get regular performance checks keeping lots of perfectly good dealers out of full time jobs.