Always be good to your dealers

Live in the Streets

By Vincent Olmos

The dealer/player relationship is a fascinating thing. There are those who will swear they have a “hot” poker dealer. They will wait with alacrity for their chosen one to save the day because this dealer will make all of their gambling dreams come true.

Said dealer will (in theory) run up scores and scores of pots for the player. Life will be good, high fives will commence, and money will flow freely between player and dealer.

It can be fun to assign luck patterns. When you “know” you’re going to crush it with Dealer Joe, life is good. Sometimes it will even affect how you choose to play. You may take more risks, play better overall, and achieve better results. The “hot” dealer becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, if you “know” Dealer Larry is going to murder your bankroll, you may avoid him like the plague. You may even playfully say, “Why do you kill me, Larry?!” Holding this negative outlook, one may not play as aggressively or confidently because you just “know” that Larry hates you and will do everything in his power to destroy your chips.

When luck changes, it can all turn in a hurry. Those who live by superstition, die by superstition. Luck will change and it matters less the more hands you play. Your results will be the consequence of your decisions; poker outcomes in the long term are not due to dealer wizardry.

It’s completely normal to assign patterns to random events, since it can be hard dealing with nonsensical conclusions. Getting one-outed in a huge pot by a new player stinks, and poker is a game where someone is always bleeding chips, so it can be frustrating.

A few players choose not to accept these truths and decide to blame others. It’s not uncommon for curse words to suddenly be slung at one’s ex-favorite dealer. A small, angry minority even feel the need to use angry epithets and gestures. What’s worse is that some players may think this is acceptable behavior. (It’s not!)

I’ve heard this said in cardrooms: “It’s okay if I get mad at the dealer, they get tips. It’s their job!” In some players’ minds, this justifies their behavior. This attitude often creates a weird dichotomy of, “abandon all hope, ye who deal here … but here’s a dollar anyway.” Not only is this silly, it’s counterintuitive for your own success. The reality is, variance just does its thing.

Consider this parable: You are a high-powered businessman meeting with nine separate board members. Your job is presenting contracts and accounts and the like. You are praised for some, vilified for others.

Finally, the time comes for the monster Zuckerberg account worth $500 billion. You slip the pen around for a board member to sign, but tragedy strikes—it runs out of ink! No matter, you are prepared. You have a bevy of identical pens ready in your vest. You offer two more functioning pens, yet the board member decides to flip out. He cannot conceive that you dare slip him a defective pen!

He asks where you went to school, who your references are, then insults your family. The angry board member continues this for 10 minutes, then rips up the contract and storms out in a fury. This costs everyone, but it is especially taxing on the blameless businessman.

So, what the heck does this have to do with poker? The dealer (businessman) presents the offers. No matter the consequence, the dealer keeps the options flowing.

The board members (players) will consider the options. It is up to the board member to choose and operate the business contract (hands dealt). Some hands will be fortuitous, others will cost money. It’s up to you to decide how you want to be involved.

The defective pen represents strife. This can be a bad beat, annoying table talk, losing hands, or any of the litany of poker frustrations. The defective pen has nothing to do with the businessman or even the contracts. It exists as an unfortunate side of the business venture. If we get so caught up in our own conflict, we lose sight of our goals.

Dealers are people. It’s not surprising that many enjoy gambling too! They have more in common with you than at first glance. It is totally normal to get caught up in yourself while in the poker streets, but for one to ignore common courtesy is downright foolish. Tip your dealer with more than just a toke: be respectful.