Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Accidental tipping

I just got back from a delightful afternoon with Short-Stacked Shamus. He is every bit as smart, funny, educated, interesting, and self-effacing as you would anticipate from reading his blog. We've been chatting via email for many months now, but never met. So we had lunch at Gardunos, a nice Mexican (their web site calls it "New Mexican"--whatever) restaurant inside the Palms. Chatted for a while, then went (of course) to the poker room, and played $2-4 limit hold'em for a while.

Shamus had a good session. Me, not so much--but I only lost $12, so it didn't really sting.* I had been ahead for the day, until Shamus cracked my pocket kings with a heart flush on the river, swiping a nice multi-way pot. Of course, this doesn't bother me one bit; it's just part of how limit poker goes. I'm much too broad-minded to harbor even the tiniest bit of resentment over such things. But I should mention--completely unrelated to that incident, of course--that his blog totally sucks rocks and you should never, ever look at any of the completely worthless crap posted there.

(Just kidding!)

Also, if he tries to tell you that he was merely getting even for when I beat his solid A-K on the button with a crap hand that I should have folded the instant I saw it--like maybe a J-7 offsuit from out of position, or something equally awful--well, he's lying, and that's all there is to it. I'm simply incapable of playing that badly.

Anyway, on to the story of the day:

Shamus got seated first, and I was standing by watching, when I saw something unexpected happen. A player was getting low on chips, and pulled out another $20 bill to buy more. The dealer counted out four stacks of five chips each, then made them into one stack, lifted it up with one hand (his left hand was holding on to the deck of cards for the hand that was in progress), and handed it to the player. What I saw, but the dealer didn't, is that when he lifted up the stack, the bottom chip stayed on the table, right in front of the dealer. He looked away at the crucial instant because there was pre-flop action going on at the time, and he was trying to follow it at the same time as he sold the chips. The player didn't re-count the chips he had just bought.

A few seconds later, when he went to gather in the pre-flop bets and put out the flop, the dealer noticed the lone blue chip sitting in front of him. He picked it up, clearly unsure of where it had come from. He quickly reached to put it into his tip box, because, after all, that's the most common and logical explanation for why it was there. But then I saw him hesitate. I watched his eyes go around the table--he was counting the number of players who had put limped in, then counting the pot, to be sure that the extra dollar wasn't spillover from one of their bets. When he saw that the pot was correct, he concluded that the dollar had indeed been a tip and dropped it in the box.

I know this dealer well enough to be absolutely certain that this was not deliberately stealing. I've chatted with him many times while he's in the box. He knows my secret identity. (OK, it's not really all that secret, since you can pretty easily find references herein to my real-world name, photos of me, etc. Still, most people I play with have no idea that I go home and blog about them.) He would never be that corrupt, nor so stupid as to endanger his career for a lousy buck. It was just an innocent mistake. He made a genuine effort to be sure that the chip wasn't supposed to be part of the pot before keeping it for himself, and just didn't think about the possibility that he had accidentally dropped one off of the stack he had sold to the player.

Maybe I should have spoken up. But I was just a bystander, not even seated at the table yet. And it was just a dollar. (Today's helpful hint: Count the chips that the dealer sells you, even if you just watched him or her count them!)

I certainly got a dollar's worth of amusement out of watching the dealer's confusion resolve into an incorrect, though perfectly understandable, conclusion.

*It's strange how poker money is both conceptually and emotionally different from regular money. A session in which I end up $12 down means nothing to me--not even a pixel on my Excel graph of cumulative results. It literally gets lost among all of the bigger numbers (bigger on both the positive and negative sides). But if I somehow became aware that I had, say, been shorted $12 in change at Target, or paid $20 for an item that I could have bought for $8, or discovered that $12 had fallen through a hole in my pocket onto the street, I'd be seriously irritated at the loss. Maybe someday an expert in poker psychology can explain this anomaly to me. It seems utterly irrational, and I don't like having to admit that there are irrational facets to my being.


You can read Shamus's version of events here.


Chappy & Bailey said...

The reason losing $12 playing poker doesn't effect you is because you go into a poker game with the realization that you could (and often will) lose money. You don't go into Target expecting to get shortchanged, and you don't walk down the street expecting money to fall out of your pocket, so when these things happen you are naturally angry.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to instigate here, but did you ever think that in his blog, he would actually include a sentence talking about you and proceed to commit a mistake you very recently griped about?

You probably already noticed, so I hope he gets to feel the wrath of the Grump in the comments to his post. :)

Rakewell said...

LOL. Yes, I noticed that right away. But I couldn't tell if it was a sly reference to my recent gripe, or just a funny slip, so I didn't say anything about it.

Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Nice catch, anon.! I'd love to claim uber-cleverness there, but I wouldn't be honest if I did.

Anonymous said...

I think it's just as well that the buck went into the tip box. The guy who lost the buck probably saw someone that dropped a dollar chip earlier and never said anything as he pick it up and slipped it into his pocket. This was just evening things out...lol ;-)

Wayne Murphy said...

If it was me, YES you should have said something. I'm embarrassed even a year later (I just stumbled upon this post).
I'll give a dollar to a begger to see if I can recover harmony and good luck. Obviously this incident is why I have had nothing but bad luck for the last year.
Giving that dollar away will be a HUGE weight off of my shoulders!
Better yet, if you can tell me who the player was I'll give $1 to them WITH and explaination.

Rakewell said...

Yes, Murph, it was you. But the player was unknown to me, so I can't help you right the grievous wrong that was committed.