Random thoughts from a veteran poker dealer.

Written By: Caz Davis

Some random thoughts from a veteran poker dealer!

What follows are a few observations about the state of poker in this day and age. I am not really sure what prompted me to write this other than just the realization that things have changed so much from the time I started dealing poker to the present. By no means is this all inclusive, just some random thoughts.

I started dealing poker almost 15 years ago. It was a fluke; I had been working for a riverboat in another capacity (finance) and just happened to decide to attend a company sponsored poker dealing school. After training, I auditioned for the job and got hired in the poker room. I had never been in a “Real” poker room until the day I switched departments.

Our biggest game then was a 1-5 spread limit Texas Holdem game. The “Big Game”, I laugh now, we were so nervous having to deal that game in the beginning. After a period of about a year the laws in that state were changed to allow bigger limits. The day the law went into effect the room went from having 1-5 as the biggest game to numerous 20/40′s and a 15/30 limit Holdem games. Stud games were normally still spread at 1-3 and 1-5 limits and then 3/6 after the limit change; every so often we would see a 15/30 or 20/40 limit stud game.

Anyway, over the years I became quite proficient and knowledgeable in all things poker, at least from a dealing standpoint. I modestly state that I can maintain with the best of poker dealers. I take my job very seriously and try to provide the best service I can. I have dealt just about every reasonable limit and style poker game at one time or another over the years. I learned very early to disassociate myself with the value of the pots. A 300/600 game is no different than a 3/6 game, the chips are just a different color. The buys-ins’ are just relative to a players economic/skill (Skill is a subjective term at best here) level (or self perceived level) for the most part. A dealer should not be nervous or think about the value of the chips in the pot, it is a distraction best left alone. That said, over the years I have heard many people say “Limit poker isn’t real Poker, the only real Poker is No Limit”, I am not as sure of that as a definite. Each discipline has it own nuances, and each is harder than the other in its own individual ways. Who is to say what “true” poker is.

I am starting to digress, the point of this is to just vent a bit of the disappointment I have been feeling with the new “crop” of young players that have been and continue to enter the world of real or “Brick and Mortar” or B&M) poker rooms. I learned very early in my career that a game can, and should for the most part run quite efficiently, as long as I let it. Sometimes the less I tried “run” things the smoother a game would proceed. I was there to manage the logistics of the “game”. The players were knowledgeable and I learned a lot from them.

How things have changed.

These days I have found that I spend much more time keeping a keener eye on players to correct procedural mistakes than I used to. I don’t find this necessarily something I shouldn’t have to do, but the problem is this…many of the players that I am correcting don’t expect to be corrected, and when they are, they take personal offense at that fact. They view ME as the opponent when in fact I am attempting to help them learn things (that should be second nature) that will allow them to focus more on developing and improving playing ability.

Many new players seem to believe that they have a superior level of experience and understanding of the game. What is almost comical at times is the fact that many of these pseudo professional’s are SO far off in there own worlds that they do not realize how obvious there inexperience is. It is strange phenomenon I think; I truly believe that many of the new players who are recently introduced to poker really don’t realize that poker has been played in casinos for longer than most of them have been alive. A perfect example took place in a 3/6 Holdem game. A player in the number three seat had been “splashing” the pot fairly regularly. I had recognized that he was not going to react well to a verbal correction so I tried to get him understand what he should be doing by restacking his bets in front of him hoping he would recognize and mimic the other players as they placed their bets. That did not work. The next time it was his turn I put my forearm down on the table to block the chips (he was stacking, and then sliding the chips into the pot). He picked the stack up and threw them OVER my arm in to the pot. I finally had to say something…”Do me a favor bud, try to keep your bets stacked in front of you and out of the pot”. This is where it got funny. This kid stands up, leans over the table, sticks his finger in my face and says…”LISTEN, I’ve been playing this game for 5 months, don’t tell me what I…” and he was cut off by the roar of laughter from the rest of the table. He just didn’t get it and on top of it all probably though he did, really.

I believe this type of reaction is an unfortunate side effect of the mainstreaming of Poker on nationally televised shows. Poker on television is both the greatest and worst thing that has ever happened to “live” poker.

The problem is none of those shows really present to the public anything that will prepare them to play “real” poker. Poker they will find at the local Casino, the 3/6, 4/8 and higher LIMIT games dealt by a center dealer for REAL money, not tournament chips. Of course there are tournaments in casinos, but for the majority of new players they need to forget everything they have learned from watching television. You would be surprised how many times in the last year I have had players in 3/6 or 4/8 Holdem games suddenly try to “go all in” by stating such and pushing their stacks towards the center of the table.

The new breed of players watch all the professional poker players participating in no limit tournaments on television, pickup numerous BAD habits and then bring those habits to their local casino. Impressing someone with their superior knowledge of the game is almost as important as playing. At the risk of stating the obvious, they do not, and in many cases the end up looking a bit foolish to boot.

The habits picked up from online poker are not anywhere near as bad (if at all bad) as those picked up from watching TV. I still laugh…after asking (he kept looking at me a bit perplexed) a novice 3/6 Holdem player to again post his big blind he stated;” it is so much easier online, all I have to do is check the little “auto post” box.” It was funny and he was good natured, he realized he was in a learning stage, but did not take correction or an explanation of his mistakes critically.

Online poker has become as main stream as B&M, more so every day. There are so many rooms that it is hard to decipher where to go. I would offer this, stick with the top rooms… PartyPoker, Paradise Poker, and FullTilt Poker and you won’t go wrong. There is much to be said about learning playing online, that is a whole other subject, but be sure to take advantage of the incentives offered by these rooms by checking out sites like www.gotbonus.com , www.vonflop.com or www.gotflop.com if you are going to play online.

Always remember, the less you bet the more you lose when you win.

I must remain anonymous, but, thank you to all the players who have so generously contributed to my livelihood in the form of gratuities, tips, tokes over years past and years yet to come. They are truly appreciated.

Sidenote: When players ridicule me I remind them that they may suffer from a common malady… The inversion of responsibility relative to outcome syndrome: When you win, it’s because of your superior playing ability, and when you lose, it is because I am a terrible dealer. Try not to be one of them. Really, blaming the dealer is wasted energy; use that energy to focus on improving your game and absorbing the loads of information being offered to you at any given moment. The dealer IS your friend and in reality the biggest source of information available to the players. LISTEN to what the dealer is saying during a game, you might be surprised at how many questions you DON’T have to ask.

Smile, it can always be worse.
About the Author

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