Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Assumptions, Carnivals and Dealers

It's amazing how long a first impression can last. Or even a false assumption. I am very guilty of this myself. I tend to form hard, fast opinions on things that aren't necessarily true. I try mightily to either keep my mind open or to reassess an assumption (or opinion) as time moves on, but I believe that it's human nature to latch onto something, then stick to it, no matter what. Horrible, horrible human nature.

So it should come as no surprise to me, but still does, that people assume so many things about me that just aren't true at all.

In the past, all I heard was "You only play tournaments, you never play cash games." Um, okay.

These days I hear, "You hate tournaments, you hate tournament players, you only support cash game play." Um, okay.

In the past I heard, "You hate Hold'em and will only play Stud." Um, okay.

Now I hear, "You hate Hold'em and will only play Omaha." Um, okay.

I have heard, over the years, various assumptions about the way I play. Here is one by two totally different players in the same tournament, "You are a rock." "You are a maniac." This is a good thing, btw. This was back in the days when I could adjust easily playing tourneys (I no longer posses this skill, unfortunately).

Today Drizz thought that my head would explode because of a quote by Phil Hellmuth, "Hold'em is to poker what G-5's are to airplanes --- the biggest, fastest, and best!!"

Given the context that Phil was talking about (again, I'm making assumptions, but that is my only choice in this circumstance) I do not disagree with this quote at all. I assume he was talking about his own place in the poker world; large buy-in tourneys, low juice, multiple event festivals. If that is the case, it's a no-brainer.

Lots of people hate Phil. Most people don't even know him. I don't claim to know him either. In person, he seems like an okay guy. Nice, friendly. Some social awkwardness, like most poker players. I think that he is likely telling the truth when he says that he started the whole whining shtick as a way to overcompensate for a low self-esteem. I tend to think that the reason he continues it today is partially because it is so ingrained and he cannot help himself, and partially to keep focus on HIM. It surely does. He could have faded into the background like so many other former champions. Instead, everyone still talks about Phil, for good or for bad.

He's really an okay guy away from the tables, from everything I've witnessed. Huge, sweeping assumptions can be dangerous. For me, and for everyone else.
Bill Rini is perhaps trying to raise the bar on Poker Blogging. In my most generous, benefit of the doubt, positive "assumption," I'm going to credit Bill with having the best of intentions with his Carnival idea.

Maybe he is just as sick as I am about certain expert bloggers not getting any attention at all, while the snippy, gossipy, back-stabbing, ego-stroking, Mr. Popular, American, non-controversial, recreational bloggers get all of the accolades from their "friends" who write up these Best Of awards.

Yes, I am assuming an awful lot, but I'd like to give Bill the benefit of the doubt that he has EVERYONE'S best interests at heart, and would like to showcase individual posts that make certain bloggers the real BEST OF out there.

When I write up and publish my favorites, one thing I try to never, ever do, is leave someone off because I don't like him. My personal like or dislike of the blogger has nothing to do with whether his blog is great, or shite.

I don't care if he is or is not controversial. I don't care if he has me linked or not. I don't care if he likes ME. I don't care if he is American or not. I don't care if he is male or female. I don't care if he is "popular" or not.

Yes, personal bias is still going to come into play. No list like this is going to be totally objective. Sure, I'm going to choose more serious blogs, in general, than "harharlaughitupfuzzball, I'm losing my buy-in every night" blogs. That is personal preference. I cannot be completely objective when publishing MY list, nor can any of these other Best Of writers. But I try to be at least somewhat objective. I don't sit around listing my "friends," when I know that their blogs suck.

Anyway, if you are interested, please go over to Bill's blog and submit your best posts, or someone else's best posts. That way individual posts, not individual bloggers are getting the credit for their great work, and hopefully we can look beyond the poster as a whole.
A newish blogger on the scene had a quote that I got a great kick out of today :

"I still really don't get it when people complain about how badly their opponents played and still beat them. To me a beat is a beat, being outplayed or outdrawn doesn't make a difference to me, except in the ways I play against that opponent the next time."

Ah, the times, they are a changin'. Thank God.
Please feel free to skip the rest of this post and stop right here if you are not a dealer, not interested in becoming a dealer, or not interested in reading about dealer issues.

I have long wanted to talk about dealers. I think I have several, uncompleted posts, but I'm too lazy to go back through the archives and read them.

Many dealers would say that I am anti-dealer. That I am too hard on some of them and give them grief. I think that most dealers, however, know that I am very pro-dealer. I am often subtly encouraging my tablemates to tip (some have never played live and truly have no clue). When I am in a tournament where nothing, or very little is taken from the prize pool for dealers, and I see that they are being given the shaft, I usually rally the players who cashed together for some extra tipping in order to make it worth the time of the dealers and the cardrooms to spread good, well structured tournaments. It is in my best interest to keep the cardroom open to good ideas and good tournaments. It is in my best interest to keep the dealers happy, fast and accurate.

I also joke around to sometimes take the heat off of a dealer. If a dealer starts screwing up (and this happens a lot, we are all human) and I notice the table getting more and more tense and angry, I start some kind of shtick, which to the outside observer, or maybe even a dealer with horrible self-confidence, might look like I'm giving him trouble. In truth, I'm trying to cool things off at the table. Once again, it's in my best interest. It has little to do with protecting the dealer, it has to do with my own bottom line.

When it comes to abuse, however, I DO go out of my way to protect dealers. I call the floorman, I absolutely put a complete stop to dealer abuse, and do not tolerate it at all. I don't care if I'm in California and it's the norm, I don't care if the entire table is against me and it hurts my bottom line, it is the correct thing to do ethically and I will stand up to anyone who tries to abuse a dealer. It matters not that the abuser might be considered a world-class player. I will take him on and have. He may be a world-class player, but he sure isn't a world-class human being if he has to stoop to being verbally and/or physically abusive to a dealer!

Obviously taking a stand against abusive players is NOT in my best interest. I'll just say that again for you, because I have been in some horrible situations. My worst nightmare in dealer abuse came true at the Razz series event in 2004. I was sitting at a table with some well-known players. Howard Lederer, Dennis Waterman, Nick Frangos, Ernie Cobb, Sam Grizzle, etc. Everyone had a bracelet or three except me, lol.

The bummer was John Bonetti. He bragged about killing people back when he was in the mob. He abused almost every dealer who entered the box. He abused other players and purposely tried to "cut" dealers with his cards (zinging them into the dealers hand or chest). He laughed at them and called them every name in the book, especially when they took his abuse personally. He cursed at them, and everyone else at the table over and over again.

I complained three times. Nothing was done. Finally, I went to some people who had influence. Jan Fisher, Linda Thompson and Mike Sexton. I had to get them during a break. With their influence (not just some brand new, green yahoo like me), finally he was given some very stern warnings and told to STFU. He pretty much did this, but busted out not long after, unable to keep himself from steaming off all of his chips after being warned.

Throughout this five hour ordeal of hell, not one of the aforementioned players did anything, to my knowledge. Of course, after he was busted, a couple of them were embarrassed and tried to claim they talked to a TD about it, but I never saw this, nor did Glenn, who was sweating my table the entire five hours.

So this is something that I feel very strongly about, and I wish that more well respected players would take seriously. No dealer deserves to be "cut" because he or she dealt someone blanks. It is not the dealers fault if the player is running badly, playing badly or steaming. Don't take it out on a dealer in my presence, or I WILL get you 86'd, you can count on that.

Now, with all of this dealer kiss butt, I have to turn my attention to the present situation of dealers and what they can do to make things better for themselves, and to make more money.

I truly, 100% have their best interests at heart when I say these things, and I think readers might actually agree with me if they have really read and comprehended what I wrote previously.

First of all, if you want to increase your speed, accuracy and salary, read Mason Malmuth's book. Get it from your CRM, the library, or buy it on ebay for $2.00. I don't care how you get it, but get that book and memorize it, live by it.

You may not like Mason, and he probably doesn't care. You may hate him, his tone, his attitude and everything associated with him, but be realistic, he is your best chance to virtually doubling your income and enduring a heck of a lot less grief at the tables.

In my honest, most blunt and candid opinion, dealers should be like robots. Don't get all huffy, offended and click away. I am saying this because I like you, I want the best for you, I watched my Mom go through torture over the past fifteen years, I watched Glenn slowly increase his earnings until he was the top earner at River Palms and finally: this is the approach I, personally would take to dealing if I were in the box. If I think it's good enough for ME, then believe me, I'm not putting you down.

Dealing should be like a computer, a machine, a robot. No human "emotional" qualities whatsoever.

In general, it seems like players take out their frustration online by abusing other players in chat. Players take out their frustration in a B&M room by abusing the dealer. The dealer probably won't strike back, whereas a player might, it could be dangerous to abuse other players.

I have seen a dealer take it personally and pick up his heavy chair, striking the player over the head/back with it after a player punched him, but on the whole, most dealers are too shocked and horrified to take this kind of action (I would, lol).

My Mom has been struck from in front and behind, kicked, slapped, had cards thrown at her hands, chest and face, had drinks flung in her face, been elbowed from behind, been burned with cigarettes and of course has been verbally abused. Many of these things were tolerated up until the turn of the century, and are still tolerated in some cardrooms.

My Mom took a passive/aggressive approach to this abuse by playing dirty tricks on players like mucking their unprotected hands, reading hands incorrectly, "accidentally" dealing someone out, etc.

I do not advocate either approach (neither tolerating it, nor the dirty tricks).

I advocate what I call the robot approach.

First get it into your head: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

It is never, ever about you. It is about him, and his horrible day, horrible run, horrible life, horrible wife, horrible playing and anything else you can think up. It never had anything to do with you and it never will, unless you make it about you. That is the very worst thing you can do. Don't take it personally, don't make it about you, and you will save yourself SO much grief.

Does this mean you should tolerate abuse? Heck no! No, no, no, never. Instead, let the input hit you like it would a computer.

What happens when someone tries to curse at a computer "dealer" online? Maybe the word is blocked, maybe the word goes to support, maybe it is starred out. The computer usually rejects the word. The player is reported and his chat is suspended or revoked. Sometimes he is banned from the site altogether if he is a serial abuser.

You can take a lesson from this. Do NOT compute! Call the floor. Like a computer alert when it senses something it cannot comprehend. Don't take it on yourself, call the floor. Be objective, be truthful, be accurate and report what is said. Report it like a computer would report it, with no bias, no elaboration and no drama. Let the floor handle it. That way, you are never the bad guy. Let the floor take the heat, that is what he is there for. Your tips won't diminish, they might even increase (if a dealer is THAT good and objective, I tend to increase his tips, double or even triple versus his co-dealers).

I am not rewarding the dealer for being objective, I am rewarding him for not taking it upon himself and wasting our time, not creating drama, not allowing the abuse, keeping the hands cranking out instead of stalling the game for minutes, and a myriad of other reasons.

The better you are, the more I'm going to tip you. And everyone, everyone who knows me knows that I am a tightwad. So it is in your best interest to not take anything personally and just call the floor. Boom, no decision, no heat, game over.

Taking things personally will slow up the game, cause your blood pressure to explode, cause everyone else to get into the mess, cause the game to go to crap, make you look like the bad guy, cause you to make mistake after mistake and so many other negatives that I could list them all day. Don't fall into this trap!

Do you realize that the abusive player wants to snare you? He wants you to argue with him. He wants you to banter back and forth so that he has reason to continue his abuse. He absolutely does not want you to call the floor. He would rather you be silent and ignore him so that he can continue the abuse, or for you to engage. Calling the floor kills his action and makes him look like the azzhole that he is.

It's not about you. It never is. Don't compound his mistake by making one of your own.

Be pleasant, smile, be cordial, be competent, be gracious when tipped, but never, ever engage these idiots. You are a much better person than these scumbags. Rise above it, don't stoop to their level.

Now that we have the biggest issue out of the way, what about when you make a mistake? Once again, be that robot.

You are going to have horrible nights. You are going to have misdeals, exposed cards, buttons moved twice and a virtual avalanche of other dealing problems. This doesn't have to be the nightmare that some dealers make it.

As soon as you make a mistake, and someone says something, just stop. Don't take it personally. He or she is not out to get you. It is NOT about you, nor is it even your dealing. Don't be defensive, don't lie about the situation, just stop and call the floor. Game over.

Obviously be very quick about this, when you need to call the floor. Don't slow down the game no matter what.

There are many situations where you do not need to call the floor. If you know proper procedure, you will be able to fix the error yourself with very little drama. Don't make it into a nightmare, just say thanks to the player who pointed it out, and get back to work. Don't argue with the player, don't get defensive, don't fight, use your head.

The biggest problem I have at the tables with dealers taking things personally is when I am trying to do the ethical thing, and they still argue with me. Button was moved twice, now I am able to skip the big blind and post only the small. Nothing was said by either players or dealer. Maybe the player moved the button (don't do this, please), then the dealer moved it again. Maybe the dealer accidentally moved it twice. It happens, it's part of the game. It's no one's "fault."

But dealers seem to take this more personally than any other problem in the box. They immediately get defensive. So defensive they are arguing and fighting with a player, a player who pays their salary, over some stupid plastic puck. Really, you do not want this.

Use your head. If an observant, long-time player says to you, "Um, I am supposed to be the big blind. The button is wrong," do you really think he is pointing it out in error to his detriment??? This is absurd. Why would a player purposely put himself into the big blind twice? Think for just a nanosecond, use your head.


There is no logical answer. Be a computer..."does not compute..." If it makes no sense, then it is obvious that the player is trying to do the correct, ethical thing!

Why get defensive and argue with your bread and butter??? Why cause drama, a scene, an argument, slow down the game, look like a fool, trying to "reprimand" your own customers?

Just think for a minute, use your head. No one is "out to get you."

Whether your are right, wrong, being abused, being heckled, making mistakes or any other problem at the table, take it like a robot, a computer..."does not compute," and call the floor.

Not only will this make you a perfect dealer, but you will get more hands out per hour, hence more tips, you will be tipped better by regulars, you will be praised and thanked, you will have the pick of any shift, any days, any cardroom, and you will be making a heck of a lot more than any other dealer who doesn't do this. I promise you.

Glenn made an average of $30 per hour when he dealt for ten months. Towards the end of those ten months he was making better. He was fast and silent. He was praised as the "new superstar" on Cardplayer Cruises and invited back carte blanche whenever he wanted to cruise and deal.

Glenn stopped taking things personally and just started cranking out the hands. He stopped chatting, stopped trying to hold conversations in the box, stopped arguing and just called the floor. As soon as he realized that being computer-like was to his advantage, he became the best dealer that the Palms had.

And this was considered the "deadest" cardroom in Laughlin. They have the least business for the number of tables. They are known as the graveyard. Dealers dead spread more than actually deal there.

Through all of this, he still AVERAGED $30 per hour.

Think about it. Think and then lose your "humanness." Your wife, your players, your pocketbook will thank you.

Felicia :)