Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't match stacks

Very Josie tells in her blog about an unfortunate incident in a recent tournament at Foxwoods, in which she lost more chips than she should have because a careless dealer screwed up an all-in situation between two deep-stacked players:
He had a helluva lot more chips than I thought he did. The dealer was a novice who didn't speak english well. She started matching his stacks against my stacks. She brought in his stack of 5k chips and matched mine up against his. Let's say for arguments sake his stack was 5 inches high and mine was 8 inches. She took the additional 3 inches off of mine and put them in the other guys general area, like they were his. With the remaining 2 even 5k stacks, she divided them and gave one to him and one to me, like it was a split pot. Right when she gave him my extra 5K chips I said 'Hey, those were mine!" and she agreed, but she was like in a fog, not really understanding what was going on, and then the guy said they were his. I said they weren't. I had more fucking chips than him and he knew it but he started screaming and yelling. The guys in the 8 & 9 seats agreed they were his. omfg. Floor came over and asked dealer to explain it and she couldn't, so all the guys at the table yelled out their version. In the end floor woman said more men agreed with the asshole so those chips were his. I cannot tell you how upset I was at this point. upset about the needless donkey call and upset that I was getting royally screwed. I asked for ANOTHER floor person to come down but I was refused. So the guy gets MY 5k chips and then he says, now match them. you have to match all of my chips. OMFG - I just got fucked again. yep, I had to use most of my left over 25k chips to match those extra 5k chips. How I didn't cry in frustration at the table I'll never know, but I didn't.

This is one of those things that isn't in any rule book and you basically have to learn in the school of hard knocks, as Josie just has. Here's the take-home lesson: Whether in a cash game or a tournament, never let a dealer make the pot right by matching stacks. If it's one normal-sized stack or less, OK, I'd let it go, while still muttering under my breath, "Ur doin it rong." Any more than that, and I politely decline to allow my chips to be mishandled that way.

Whether you are the one paying off or the one being paid, you have the right to have both stacks COUNTED. Counted--as in find out how many there are numerically. If you have to pay, then you can either count out the right amount and have the dealer verify it, or let the dealer do it for you while you keep an eagle eye on the procedure.

Matching stacks is done only by lazy or poorly trained dealers. The process is fraught with potential for major mistakes. The one Josie experienced (losing track of which stacks are which) is just one of them. Another is that one or two stacks collapse into each other and/or into the pot and become an unsortable mess. Less drastic but still possibly game-changing is that not all chips are the same thickness (some casinos have both old, worn-thin chips and new, full-sized ones circulating together), such that, say, one stack of 19 can appear to be the same height as another stack of 20.

You can and should be calm and polite, yet insistent: "Please count his chips, then we can count out an equivalent amount from my stacks." Ignore other players who might complain that it takes longer that way. They have no stake in it, so they should just shut up. (No need to tell them that, just think it and act accordingly.) If for any reason the dealer refuses to do it that way, politely ask that he or she call the floor. I suppose it's possible that there is a rare floorperson out there somewhere who won't grant your request for separate counts of the stacks, but I've never seen that happen.

In poker, as in life, you have to look out for #1. That means protecting your chips as well as your cards.


Josie said...

Grump, It's a lesson hard learned, but one I will not forget.

lightning36 said...

How true. I suspect I got screwed once in a Sahara tournament right before we chopped at the final table, but it happened too fast and I was inexperienced.

Memphis MOJO said...

Even when they count them, they make mistakes. You still have to watch them like a hawk.

It's worse at the end of tournaments when the chip denominations are so big and they aren't used to them. I've seen dealers count by thousands instead of ten thousands! Bottom line is what the Grump says: Look out for No. 1.

SN8 said...

That's an absolute nightmare. Any chance they had it on film?

Josie said...

I never asked if there was film to check. I should've but there was alot of yelling going on. I did ask for another floor person to come down and that request was denied.

Anonymous said...

What do you think about dealer mistakes in multiway pots especially allin pots?
How do we protect ourselves from the following?

Three of us went allin preflop (Omaha hilo pot limit game).
Short stack was allin and put his money in. Big stacks verbally went allin after raise reraise.

End result was big stacks winning half of pot shortie gets none.

Wanting to get things right I put in balance to match the short stack to make pot right. The dealer never asked the other big stack to match stack and only took what was in front of him.
Then he chopped up total pot to both of us.

I was kinda confused what was goign on but immediately realized I lost money inspite of winning half of short stack.

I called the floor to check cameras but we got it sorted out within 10$ of actual amounts.