Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Faux betting lines

Some poker rooms have a line on the felt, and chips pushed forward aren't considered legally bet unless and until they cross that line.* The traditional rule, before a recent vogue of betting lines, was that forward motion with chips constituted a bet.

I don't care a whole lot whether a place uses a betting line or just the standard forward-motion rule, though on the whole I tend to think that betting lines cause more problems than they solve, and open more room for angle-shooters than they close, as expressed in this rant by Paul Phillips: http://extempore.livejournal.com/90346.html.

But I am baffled beyond words by the handful of poker rooms that have designed into the poker table felt what looks for all the world like a betting line, is assumed by all the players to be a betting line, and gets treated by the players as a betting line, only to have a dealer at some point in the festivities point out that it is not, in fact, a betting line. No, it's only decoration that happens to look exactly like a betting line.

It is no coincidence that I chose a photo of a Planet Hollywood table to illustrate this post. I was reminded of this gripe by playing there Saturday night. You can see in the picture what would look like a betting line to anybody who has seen them used before. But PH is far from the only guilty party on this point.

Listen up, poker room managers: If you don't want to have betting lines used in your facility, and you don't want players to assume that there are betting lines in use, then, maybe I'm just crazy to think this, but here's an idea: DON'T DESIGN INTO YOUR POKER TABLES WHAT LOOKS LIKE A FRIGGIN' BETTING LINE!!!

And you want to hear a wrinkle on this that's even worse? I was playing at Sam's Town tonight. I've only played there twice before, so I don't have the house rules down pat. The line on the table looked to me like it was probably mere decoration, because it was unusually far inboard--that is, one had to reach an unnaturally long way to reach it, suggesting to me that it wasn't really used as a betting line. When it was my turn to put out a blind, I put it at a normal spot in front of me, several inches short of the line, and asked the dealer, "Is that a betting line, or is it just decoration?" The oh-so-helpful dealer said, "Yes." I politely asked for clarification. He said he really didn't know, that when he had asked that himself in the past, he got told different things by different shift supervisors, so he didn't want to commit himself on whether it was a betting line or not, and if there was a problem or I wanted a definite answer, he'd just call the floor person to answer it.

Gee, thanks. Nice to know you can count on the dealer to clear up any ambiguities like that. Hey, pal, are you also a little unclear on whether a flush beats a straight or the other way 'round? I mean, I can sympathize that it would be strange to be told different things on different shifts, but if that happens, then for heaven's sake, take the initiative and go to the poker room manager to get it set in stone one way or the other. I understand that as a dealer you're the low man on the totem pole, but have some pride in your work, dude! If you see a problem, do what you can to get it rectified, rather than say, "It's not my job," and wash your hands of it. You would be doing every employee and every patron a favor by getting it cleared up--and you'd make your own job easier, too. Rather than having to repeat the speech you gave to me every time somebody asks, you could confidently say, "It's a betting line," or "It's just decoration," be done with it, and move on.

*Some places, mostly run by Nazis, say that every chip that crosses the line is automatically bet, even if you don't release it. That is, you have a stack of ten chips in your hand because you were shuffling them; you reach across the line and drop one chip from the bottom of the bunch to constitute a call; you bring your hand back with the other nine chips still in it; and then WHAMMO, you're informed that you just raised the entire amount that is in your hand, because "they went across the line." What makes this kind of house rule even more retarded is that it is never enforced consistently. There will always be some dealers who enforce it every time, some who completely ignore it, and others that will enforce it only if another player asks them to, which basically means that you get a new set of rules every 30 minutes, or at least every shift change (because the floor people are just as inconsistent about it as the dealers). Nazis, every last one of 'em.

1 comment:

--S said...

How about casinos that have the lines because they used to have some fanatical bastard running the room and treating that line as if it were more important than any other law in the world?

Now that said bastard has moved on, the line means nothing anymore and has been relegated into "decoration" status.

I do have to say it makes life easier - on both player and dealer - when that line means nothing (or isn't even on the felt). Said stupid lines cause more problems than they ever solved...