Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three strikes

I play at Imperial Palace enough that most of the dealers there know me by name. Last night, however, I was startled to learn that one of them doesn't even remember having seen me before, despite the fact that he has dealt to me well over 20 times. He usually makes small talk with me in a way that has previously caused me to assume that he recognizes me as a local and a regular. (He calls me by name, but only because he's looking at the Bravo display in front of him. I knew that, but still assumed that he knew mine as a familiar face, even if he didn't remember my name from one visit to the next.)

Last night he asked whether I had just arrived today. I was baffled by the question. Arrived where? It took a little back-and-forth before I figured out that he thought I was a tourist. He would have asked the same question of whoever was sitting in seat 10 (next to him), as I was. He had no idea who I was.

Strike one.

(This is, incidentally, the same guy I wrote about 18 months ago here. Anybody who plays as IP regularly will know exactly who I'm talking about from the description I gave of him.)

I lost a big pot at one point, holding A-A. In a three-way hand, I called a lead-out bet from a drunk Danish player on a flop of 7-8-9, and a third guy came along. I improved to top set when an ace came on the turn. Danish drunk bet $70. I raised all-in, another $126 on top of that. Third guy reluctantly called for a little less, Danish guy folded. I showed my set. River was a jack, at which time my caller looked suddenly relieved and turned over his 9-10, having caught his straight. So gross.

Anyway, as always happens in such situations, there was a lot of post-hand table chatter about what had happened. What was different than usual was that the dealer--same one as mentioned above--chimed in with his opinion that I had had "no choice" but to play the hand the way I did, and I had just been unlucky. It was not hard to read into his commentary the implication that the third player had played it badly--which he had, of course, but it is absolutely not the dealer's job to even remotely hint at such a thing.

Strike two.

This dealer has a long-standing bad habit that I have noticed many times before, but have never done anything about until now. When somebody wins a big pot, he says, "Nice hand" as he pushes the chips. This is something that Cardgrrl ranted about in her blog a couple of years ago, here. He did it to me last night after I stacked another player, being on the good side of a set-over-set situation--my queens to his jacks, poor fellow. (This was just two hands after the set of aces went down in flames, and it went a long way toward making me feel that the universe was back in balance again.)

Strike three.

After I had cashed out, I pulled the shift manager, Marc, out of earshot of the tables and mentioned the problem. I said, as closely as I can remember it, "To those of us who have been around the game for a while, those words sound like, 'Don't forget to tip your dealer.' In fact, I suspect that's exactly the effect he hopes to have. But even if that's the last thing on his mind and his motives are purely to be complimentary, it's a practice that has a huge potential for causing resentment. At least one player at the table will not think it was a nice hand, and could easily lash out at the dealer for appearing to take sides. The dealer should be a neutral arbiter of the game, and avoid any appearance of playing favorites, or commenting on how a hand was played or on the outcome."

Marc appeared to immediately get why this was a problem. He was either good at faking it, or genuine in his thanks for bringing it to his attention.

Now the question on my mind is whether this dealer will change his habit. Reasons that he might not include (1) the supervisor doesn't really think it's a big enough deal to do anything about, and he was just placating me; and (2) the dealer gets talked to, but decides that begging for tips is still worth the risk of another reprimand.

So for my readers who frequent IP, I'd be curious to hear if you notice that this dealer continues his "Nice hand" reminder to winners of big pots. Comments section will remain open for your observations.

N.B.: Putting the first observation above in the context of the second and third, and labeling them all as "strikes," will likely mislead readers into thinking that I was somehow offended by the dealer not recognizing me. Truly I wasn't. For the vast majority of dealers, including this one, I don't care one little bit whether they remember me from one visit to another. But it seriously surprised me, because his small talk had, over the course of many months, repeatedly been effective at conveying the false impression that he recognized me. Calling these items three strikes is just a rhetorical device that occurred to me about halfway through composing the post, and shouldn't be taken too literally as it pertains to the first incident.


Josie said...

Oh my. You ARE a poker grump. :)

VegasDWP said...

I think if the poker room manager has half-a-brain, he'll mention something to the dealer in question. There are SO many choices of where to play in Las Vegas, that it's easy to discontinue playing at a particular card room.

It's strange how people have different opinions about rooms. When I was home in Vegas for over a month recently, I played mostly at Aria, Venetian, and downtown at the Nugget. Never went into Bellagio, because of the constant negative information I was fed by other players.

Near the end of my stay, I figured I'd give it a try for a change of scenery - it I thought it was fine. Sure, a little cramped - but I thought the drink service was fine, and they would bring you virtually ANYTHING you wanted - even top-shelf liquor if you named it.

Aria is still my favorite room, though.

HighOnPoker said...

Hey Grump, this may be worthy of a post (or perhaps you already have a post on the subject), but I'm curious, do you find that it hurts/helps your game when a dealer acts friendly and thereby identifies you as a regular?

I usually play in AC, and for a while, I was playing once a month or so, but usually in different rooms. Still, in one room, a dealer or two remembered me and I remember that when they greeted me like old friends, I was kinda annoyed. I like to have the tourist appearance and they were killing that. Your thoughts?

Rakewell said...

High: It doesn't matter to me either way. I've never found any obvious advantage or disadvantage of being known as a local/regular versus not.

Paul said...

The 2nd and 3rd strike sure, but the 1st?? Shame on him for not recognizing you as the celebrity that you obviously are. I think 2 of the 3 strikes are warranted, the 1st is not.

astrobel said...

@Paul, I don't know if Grump thinks he's some sort of celebrity but he surely does not act like one. Judging by the few times I've seen him he seems quite withdrawn.

I think point 1 is valid. If the dealer is the one I've got in mind he really gives me the creeps.

Anonymous said...

I think I know this dealer too...last time I stayed at IP he was a real dick to me and a few other players. As a result I took my poker moneys to other casinos. And at the time they were having trouble keeping two tables full at night and they really couldn't afford to alienate players.