Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mr. Uncooperative

I forgot to tell you about this story when it happened. It was in March, when I played a daily Venetian tournament (described a bit here).

All of you who play live tournaments know that there tend not to be enough of the lowest denomination chips. When the antes kick in, it can be tight, and the dealers often have to get whoever won the last pot or two to make change (because that's the person, usually, with the most ante chips, and the dealers don't have extras in their trays). I had never seen this be a problem, until the tournament in question.

There was one guy at our table who just flat refused to make change when asked. I guess he had some weird fondness for low-denomination chips, or some weird aversion to exchanging them for high-denomination chips. Or maybe he was just an uncooperative jerk generally. He said virtually nothing the entire game.

Because he never gave any ante chips back, after a while he had a hugely disproportionate number of them. It was becoming increasingly difficult to make the remainder of them stretch. There were just barely enough, and it was taking more and more time every hand to get the antes right before the cards were pitched. Yet still this louse would not yield to repeated requests to help make change, as he sat on a pile of the ante chips. He was cornering the market.

Finally we got a no-nonsense kind of dealer. He made the obvious request the first time and got the usual refusal. He made it through that hand, but seeing how desperately short we were and how difficult it was to make things work, on the next hand he upped his own ante, so to speak. He told Mr. Uncooperative, "If you don't make change voluntarily, we'll give you a ten-minute penalty and make the change from your stacks while you're away from the table."

This finally broke the impasse, and change was given--but it was hardly done with pleasure. Everybody at the table could see that the guy was seething mad at this dealer. It apparently put him on major life tilt, and he donked off all his chips in a rapid sequence of three hands, both of them spots where it was just crazy--bluffing into the obvious nuts, etc. He rapidly went from one of the chip leaders to busto.

When he was eliminated on the last of these, he stood up and let loose a string of invective at this dealer that was, I believe, longer, louder, and more foul-mouthed than any I have heard in a poker room, and I have been around for some doozies. The TD quickly came over and tried to calm him down, to no avail. He rapidly escalated to making threats of bodily harm to the dealer, at which point security was called. He was escorted out. And by "escorted" I mean "half-carried," still cursing and yelling out death threats to the poor dealer over his shoulder.

I have absolutely no idea what his problem was, but it was clearly a lot bigger than not liking to part with his ante chips.

I don't have any actual point to make about this cretin. I can't exactly try to draw an important moral from the story--"Be sure to help make change when the dealer asks you to"--because 99.9% of people (and, I'm sure all of my readers!) already know and do this as a matter of course. It was just one of the odder occurrences in my poker life, and I thought it deserved airing.

I emailed a short version of this story to a dealer friend of mine, and he responded with this note:

I've never seen that before. Had I been the dealer, I would have
simply reached into his stack, made the change, smiled at him, and said "Thank you, sir!" before moving on. Of course, I've always worked with floor staff who would back me up, so I would have confidence that my floor wouldn't have an issue - or at least wouldn't have one in front of the customers...

I'm still stuck trying to figure out why he wouldn't make change. There are only so many of each denomination in play, and if he has the majority of them, one would think he could figure out he would be forced to help out eventually. Weird.

Closest thing I ever saw to this was during the WSOP a couple years back. During the color-ups, the chip leader at the table is required to buy up the denomination being colored off and then floor staff colors up one person per table. This guy refused and was throwing a fit until the TD basically told him he had no choice and if he continued to not let the staff touch his chips that he would be disqualified from the tournament on the spot.

Too many weirdos in the world :)

Amen to that.


NT said...

I have more than once encountered people who have superstitions about making change.

They believe making change "breaks their luck" or something like that.

These are the same people who won't let anyone touch their chips for any reason ~ even tournament staff ~ for the same magical-thinking kinds of reasons.

This guy seems to have been an extreme case.

Memphis MOJO said...

You've reminded me of one of my pet peeves. I've never gotten around to posting about it, but I see this all the time.

Let's say the blinds are 200/400 with a 25 ante. Players in the blinds will post their 200 with 25 denomination chips when they have plenty of 100s! Later, when they need the 25 for their ante, they don't have any.

This slows the game down, obviously, and what they are thinking, I certainly have no clue.

Pete said...

I have on occasion had a player refuse t make change for me in a tournament, sometimes they explain that they think its bad luck, or they just like to have a lot of chips. When this happens I ask someone else to make the change .... Its not worth arguing about. I have never had it happen that no other player could make the change.

At the WSOP years ago i had a well known professional comment on the fact that when I asked him for change i said "please." Apparently many other dealers were not as polite.

zippyboy said...

When it became clear there was a trouble-maker at the table, why didn't the dealers just start coloring up the low-denom chips from the pile when hand is over before pushing the idiot another pot?

qdpsteve said...

I'll admit I'm biased due to some recent personal experiences of mine (away from the poker table, no less)... but he sounds frankly like another one of these "self-esteem" nutcases to me.

To too many people, having "self-esteem" means "I get to do whatever I want whenever I want for no reason or any reason I want, no matter how damaging, and to hell with everyone else."

This story also reminds me of a regular player at Pechanga who, if you try to comfort her after she loses a pot, will usually scream and ORDER you not to speak again at the table, ever. Unfortunately she often gets away with it... 'cuz she's a regular. Next time she tries it on me, I think I'm just gonna respond by betting into her a lot and try to put her on super monkey tilt. Thankfully, she's not the greatest player. ;-)

Dan said...

If there were less weirdos in the world, what would you write about?

Anonymous said...

Zippyboy- Dealers are not allowed to make change out of the pot. It has to be done player to player.

Glenn said...

I think zippyboy was talking about coloring up from the rack which is fine if there are extra tournament chips in the rack. That's not always the case though.

Anonymous said...

Glenn- The Venetian, where this occurred, does not allow dealers to make change or color off chips from out of the pot. You can only color up chips from bets that are still in front of players. They also do not usually give dealers any color up chips until the level prior to the color up.