15/10/2010

Dealers Choice

Vicki Mead

Working in the casino industry can be tough. The long hours on your feet and the constant complaining of customers can really take it out of you. Being a dealer should come with the requirement of being able to smile when all you want to do is scream and shout. So what really does go through a dealer's mind when faced with difficult customers or even (especially!) difficult poker players?

I've worked in the industry long enough to know that you can't please everyone but you can easily turn people against you with a single comment. However, I think the dealers in this industry draw the short straw in the long run. With the poker scene becoming one of the biggest ever bandwagons to jump on in the last few years it's a wonder how dealers can actually put up with some of the stick they have to repeatedly endure purely for doing their job. I made the transition from croupier to poker dealer purely through my love of the game and of course, by dealing the game as a full time job, you also find yourself learning a lot in the process.

I've trailed through various poker forums over the last couple of weeks and have seen an unhealthy amount of comments aimed at the dealers, be it how they deal or things they do that poker players cannot stand. It occurred to me that dealers never really have had any real back up from anyone in the industry and nor a 'voice' through whom to speak.

When people ask me what I do for a living the reaction that I get is always one that never fails to surprise me. People still associate dealing as a glamorous job – I think we have James Bond to thank for that one. What people fail to realise is that the job can be mentally tiring and can also cause a lot of problems if the dealer is not up to players’ standards. It's hard to please everyone as the forums pointed out when I spotted a ''pet peeves about dealing'' thread. Some of the things players don't like are actual club procedures and some people even went as far as saying that the dealers tilt their game if they deal a certain way.

In one club that I worked in I heard of a case where a guy hated the dealer so much that he proceeded to tell her that she was ''the worst dealer in the club and that everybody agreed this to be the case'' when pressed for information as to why this dealer got that reaction from a poker player it became apparent it was down to one simple mistake that she had made when dealing. The pressure on dealers to be ''faultless'' these days can actually prove to be rather stressful. I had never felt the pressure until I personally had to deal in a big event this year. All clubs deal to different procedures and all dealers have their own way of dealing.

I'm not doubting that there are some awful dealers out there as we all know from both a player's and dealer's view, but what I am saying is there are some good dealers out there and they do really try. I think a lot of different things make a good dealer, not only down to their standard of dealing but also the way they conduct themselves and control a table during a game. A good dealer should be able to have a bit of banter and a joke with the players but be able to keep the game flowing. Most dealers know when to shut up but unfortunately there are the few of them out there that sadly don't and make the rest of us look bad. I have spoken to a professional poker player about some of these issues and he mentioned that a lot of dealers now only care about working for their tips and not about actually doing a good job. Sadly against them I have to agree with him, a lot of dealers forget that a ''tip'' is a gift from the customer and not a compulsory action, I don't personally expect tips from players but if they offer them then it’s a nice gesture that I will gratefully accept no matter how small it is.

On the other side of the coin, there are a lot of players that seem to delight in telling the dealers how to deal. Not only can this agitate the dealer but it can also make them feel incompetent in their job , but also in general will disrupt the flow of the game for everyone else. I have known this to happen on regular occasions (to good dealers as well as bad). It can change the whole atmosphere at a table if a dealer is angry at the players for interfering – especially when the player is not even in the hand in question. Along with bad dealers there are also bad poker players, and unfortunately the bad ones often seem to think they can do a better job at dealing than the dealer themselves.

In general, most poker players I have dealt to are quite well behaved and at least understand the fundamental etiquette at the table, and to those of you who that includes I thank you that you don't get involved, or if you choose to then do so discreetly and with politeness. Not many things get my back up when dealing poker – but god help you if you touch the pot! Just don't be surprised if I smack your hand away ;o)

Vicki Mead's Blog