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Neil Johnson
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Neil Johnson

Dealer’s Choice 5

By Neil Johnson (10/01/2007)

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all made it through safe and sound and with nary a hangover.

I’ve been having an ongoing debate with some of my fellow dealers and I thought I would toss it out here to see what the rest of the poker world thinks. The debate centers around who should run the game. Do you do whatever the players want? Or do you have rules that apply to every game and every limit?

Now, some of you know me and have played at my tables. I am definitely on the side of rules and I make no apologies for that. There is a reason I have been (affectionately I hope) referred to as the “Bet Line Nazi” and why they place Over/Under bets on how many floor calls I will have for a tournament. What I always say to everyone is “It’s all fun and games until someone loses all their chips.” I want players to have all the fun they can at the table and those games are a blast to deal and play in. However, I also don’t feel there is anything wrong with having some ground rules that apply to every table in the room.

I don’t deal in regular casinos, I only deal tournament events. We all know what these events are like. Hopefully I will see lots of you in the Bahamas this month playing and having a great time. But to me, when we are there, or in Monaco, or Singapore or anywhere else, those are real poker rooms. Not just a converted ball room for the week, but a real room with rules. And I am not talking about any kind of crazy rules either, just the same standard kind of rules that you would find at the Aviation, the Vic or the Bellagio.

Most of us know the old stand by for the real high limit games that you just shut up and give them whatever they want. And I’m okay with that, but it does cause some problems. Now all of the sudden, there is multiple live straddles in the $25 - $50 but none of the other games. Or they can move without posting, or Mississippi straddle, or buy the button and none of the other tables can.

Now I have been told (by a fairly prominent player during the World Series) “Dealer, why the @&*$ do you care?” And that is a very valid question. I care because that player won’t always be at that table. Tomorrow it will be a new lineup of players and they will have different ways they want to play. Not to mention the fact that there are X number of No-Limit tables in the room and they probably should all be running the same way.

I don’t think I am asking much. Just simple things. Do we straddle? How many times? How many are live? Mississippi? Do new players post? Do moving players post? Forward moving or dead button? Is action out of turn binding? Do we give missed blinds?

Many of my colleagues prefer just to allow the players to control the entire game. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that. But the question is do we cater to the needs of the masses or do we make sure every player has the same rights? Quick example, last year I was dealing a $2 - $5 No Limit that was supposed to have one live straddle. The big game ($10-$25) broke and a couple players from there filled in the holes in the 2/5 game. They wanted multiple straddles and the dealer said “Does anyone care?” and it was obvious to me (I was sitting at the table in front) that some of them did but weren’t comfortable saying anything and before you know it, that game is playing with 3 and 4 straddles and is essentially playing at a $20 - $40 pace. Inevitably, the 2 or 3 who looked uncomfortable busted out and left looking very unhappy. Did that game keep going and did the house get their time drop/rake…of course, so was there any harm done? You tell me. I would say yes, because those players have every right to expect that their 2/5 game stays a 2/5 game and not turn into some monster high limit game. Others would say no, the game kept going, hands got dealt, people won pots, house got paid, dealer got tipped, no worries.

So what do you prefer? Some kind of table consensus where majority rules and sometimes new or inexperienced players get a pretty fast poker education? Or perhaps something with a little more structure where it doesn’t matter what limit or what game you sit in, you know the basic rules will be the same?

Ok then, the Atlantis awaits and there is a lot of sun and sand calling my tan. Happy New Year again everyone, hope you are refreshed and recharged for some quality time at the felt. Please put up your blinds and antes for the next dealer and I’ll see you next time.

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