Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Rant, A Complaint, and An Observation Likely To Have Consequences

The rant:

It infuriates me that hotels charge paying guests extra to use the internet (wirelessly or otherwise). It makes me feel nickel-and-dimed; it makes me feel chiseled. The internet is NOT a luxury, these days. It's a utility like electricity or water. I want my internet and I want it priced into my room. And since my room is comped, I want it free. Making me pay $11 every 24 hours is price-gouging and it annoys the holy living hell out of me.

The complaint:

The last couple of times I've stayed here the room has been entirely devoid of bath towels. Fortunately, this time I noticed it before I found myself dripping wet, standing and casting about helplessly for a towel after a shower. This time there were also very few hangars in the closet. A call to housekeeping remedied the situation, but seriously, how hard is this stuff to keep track of? It just feels negligent. It suggests that management and employees just don't sweat the details. Aren't they looking to retain and recruit guests during economic hard times?

And now the poker-related material, an observation likely to have consequences:

A new dealer comes into the box at the 2/5 table. His skills are mediocre, but he keeps the game moving and seems pleasant enough. Then something happens that shocks me: a big hand develops, it gets heads up, and the winner—who already has a huge stack in front of him—drags a monster pot. The dealer pushes it to him, pats the table, and says, "Good hand."

"Good hand???"

Did I hear that right? Did the dealer just congratulate one player at the table for beating another player at the table?

As the winner is stacking his chips, he does it again: "Nice hand." The victor finishes stacking the loot and tosses the dealer a toke. "Thank you very much, sir. Well played."

I am aghast. It now looks to me as if the dealer was trolling for the toke. About five minutes later, I win a decent sized pot. As is my custom, I push my toke to the dealer on top of my cards as I pass them to be mucked. No "nice hand" comment for me!

Another fifteen minutes pass, and the exact same scenario develops with the previous winner. He takes down another juicy pot. "Well done, good hand." Pause. "Nice hand." Toke. And we move on.

As soon as this dealer was pushed, I went to speak with the floor. I am friendly with most of the staff at Harrah's, but I particularly enjoy interacting with Tina, who is competent, funny, and—this is key—a little scary. I like her a lot, and I trust her judgment. I told her what I had witnessed, and that the congratulations alone were problematic, but if they were being used to elicit tokes that was even worse. Her expression darkened and she assured me she would handle it. I experienced approximately one millisecond's worth of sympathy for the dealer who winds up on the wrong end of that disapproving look.

[Update: I was taking a bath after I wrote this post, and happened to look up and see... an entire rack of nice fluffy towels that I had previously failed to notice. So I take back the part about the towels, this time anyway.]

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Blogger El Forrest Gumpo said...

In all honesty, I don't see the problem when the play is over. I have played with dealers that will comment mid hand "Oh, the rock has entered a pot" which is of course way out of line.


3/21/09 7:14 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Yeah, once in awhile on late-night shifts I've seen deals discuss a hand that's running with another player at the table. Incredibly unprofessional.

It reminds me why I don't tip when I win most pots. I'll tip if its a really big pot, because pissing off the dealers too much is -EV, and I'll tip when a dealer does something particularly right, like shut up a player discussing a hand he's not in or correcting one of my mistakes that would have cost me money...

3/21/09 9:17 PM  
Blogger dbcooper said...

Yikes. That dealer was either very inexperienced or had never played much himself. Dealers are supposed to be totally impartial and to compliment someone on how he played is downright wrong. If I was the guy who got beat in the hand does that mean I played badly?? ha ha. I like friendly dealers but I will take totally silent over dealers who cross the line

3/22/09 12:59 AM  
Blogger Rakewell said...

Back in the days of the Hilton poker room, one time I lost a big pot, and the guy who won it--a dealer at the Venetian, who should definitely have known better--put out his fist to the dealer for a celebratory fist bump. The dealer (Jessica), fortunately, was more professional than that. She actually gave him a kind of horrified, "are you nuts?" kind of look, and said, "I can't do that!" She was genuinely appalled that a player would ask her to break her role of neutrality, and probably especially so because the request was coming from a fellow dealer. If only they were all so scrupulous.

3/22/09 4:18 AM  
Blogger Tarpie said...

I second the internet gripe. I had my laptop with me all weekend but I'm not paying $13 for internet access. In my hour layover in the Philadelphia train station I gladly pay $2.95 for access...it seems like a reasonable price and it's below my pain threshold. Harrah's charging $13 for one day access just strikes me as greedy and irritates me almost as much as paying them for parking so that I can give them my money by gambling. Heck, if they had a < $5 for an hour price I would probably pay it to check my e-mail and poker blogs once during the weekend.

I couple of trips ago I wanted to extend my stay and thought that surely I could access the Harrah's website without paying for access. They didn't even get that little detail right.

I guess the dealers were having a tough time of it this weekend. For the first time ever I complained to the floor about a dealer. The complaint was that he exposed a card while dealing out the cards on at least a third of the hands during his down (being so bold as to expose a card on his first three hands to set my mood). Additionally, while pitching the cards to seating 4-7 I think an observant player in those seats could observe the cards as they were in the air. After his down I went to the floor and mentioned these issues and my concerns about the integrity of the games this dealer dealt due to his mechanical deficiencies.

This was the first time I have dealt with a dealer with such bad technique (actually, not the first because this dealer has exposed up more than his fair share of cards every time I have seen him this year). I am used to dealers not quite controlling the table/action, but the basic act of dealing cards to players is usually competent.

Hopefully complaints to the floor will actually result in improvements in the future.

3/23/09 9:15 AM  

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