Friday, January 19, 2018

Shouldn't the Dealer Have Told the Floor This?

This takes us back to my first Saturday in Vegas last month, my first full day in town.  Also the first poker I played this trip.  I decided to spend the Friday night I arrived in town seeing The Last Jedi, which premiered that day (or, more accurately, the evening before).  I determined I had to see it right away before it got any more spoiled for me.  You see, some dick on Twitter tweeted out a spoiler that morning.  It wasn’t a dick I follow, but somebody I do follow thought it would funny to retweet that dick's spoiler tweet.  I was not amused.

 Thus, my first poker of the trip took place at the $340 tourney at Venetian, a tournament I've mentioned before—I really like that one. I guess I'd like it even more if I ever cashed in it. Well, ok, I did cash in it once, but that was the two-day version of it.  The single day version of it has yet to be a winner for me and this time was no exception.

I arrived about half way into the first level and the very first hand I was dealt was the dreaded pocket Kings.  Guess how it came out?  OK, it wasn't a total disaster.  An Ace hit the flop and I was able to get away from them fairly cheaply.  A few levels later I got my second pocket pair of the day.  You got it, Kings again!  This time I flopped the second nut flush draw on an all-spade board.  My c-bet took it down.

I lasted to the 7th level, but by then I had a really short stack, definitely fold or shove territory.  They broke our table and I moved to my new table with my pathetic stack.  I recognized one of the players at the new table.  I had actually seen him walking around earlier so I knew he was playing in the tournament.  It was successful pro and WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller.  I had actually seen his picture posted on Twitter once or twice recently as the winner of some low buy-in Venetian events.  I've stated before that I don't recognize a lot of poker pros but I immediately recognized Dan.  That's because I once spent an evening watching him play against our pal MemphisMOJO when they were playing for the Seniors bracelet back in 2014.  I wrote about it here.

I wasn't thrilled having a bracelet winner at my table, as I'm sure you understand.  Worse, he was one seat over from me on my left.  Ugh.  I didn't say anything to him—in a situation like that, I'm always looking for some clever way to acknowledge that I know who they are instead of just saying, "You're Dan Heimiller, right?"  It didn't happen while I was playing. And honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to kick him for making that bad call and knocking MOJO out of the Seniors event back then.

Meanwhile, with my short stack, I looked down at pocket 6's in early position.  It folded to me and I thought I had to shove.  The guy on my immediate left shoved too—he had me covered by a ton.  He said to me, "I'm giving you protection."  Everyone else folded and he showed Ace-Jack.  I survived the flop and the turn.  But not the Jack on the river.  I was done.

For some reason, I felt compelled to say hello to Dan.  During the brief time I was at his table, he had spent most of his time looking at his phone, not really engaging with anyone.  I got up from my seat with all my stuff and waited for him to fold the next hand.  Then I said that it was honor to play with him, however briefly, and put out my hand.  He shook it and just said thanks.  I added, "You're a great player."  He pointed to his stack, which was on the short side and said, "Well you can't tell by my chips."  And with that I took off.

Later that night I was playing cash in another room.  I won't mention which one because I don't want to get anyone in trouble if I'm right and the dealer make a procedural error.

My results in this cash game were unremarkable.  I somehow managed to lose only $20 while continuing to be card dead.  There were no hands worth reporting on.  Well, none of mine, anyway.

But something interesting did happen.  This particular room has high hand bonuses and the payout for a Royal is $500.  The pot must be $20 to qualify for any high hand bonus.

There was a small, heads up pot.  A player who was fairly new to the table made a bet on the turn and didn't get a call.  The dealer flipped the board cards over and started pushing the pot to the player who had bet.  That player struck me as either a newbie poker player or perhaps just a newbie at playing in a brick and mortar poker room.  Anyway, he turned over his cards, which were the Jack-10 of hearts.  I hadn't been following the action much but I had noticed at one point that a Royal was possible on this board.  The turn card was the Queen of hearts and the flop contained the Ace and King of hearts.  At least, that was my memory.

The way the player turned over his cards without saying anything, I'm really not sure if he did it because he knew about the bonus or if he just wanted to proudly show his Royal.  After all, if I was in a room that didn't have a bonus for it, I think I'd show a Royal if I had one anyway (note:  I have never had a Royal in any kind of real poker game).  The dealer apparently hadn't paid much attention either.  He looked at the two exposed cards, froze, and then said, "Was this a Royal Flush?  What was on the board?"  A few of the other players, including me, confirmed that it was indeed a Royal. By now, however, the board cards he had turned face down had gotten confused with the muck.  But he seemed to have two stacks of four cards each that were isolated.  He turned over one stack and it was all black cards, definitely not the board.  He turned over the other stack and sure enough, the Ace, King and Queen of hearts were all there, with some other random card.

But then he had to make sure the pot was big enough and that was a big deal for him.  He counted the pot--$17 he was about the push to the player with the Royal.  There were two dollars in the rake slot about to go down the chute and another buck right next to the slot for the promo drop. Yep, $20 exactly.  And then, he even re-created the betting action mentally to confirm the $20.  Again, he convinced himself it was $20 and thus qualified for the $500 bonus.

He called the floor over.  I expected him to show the floor the Royal but also explain that he had had to turn the board back face-up because he had flipped it over before he saw the player's Royal cards.  But that didn't happen. Instead, he went into a long explanation about the pot and the rake and the jackpot drop and how it all totaled $20.  He repeated this at least twice to the floor.

But at no point did he ever say anything about having to flip the board back face up to verify the Royal.

Is that ok?  I mean, I would think for his own sake he would want to make sure the floor knew that.  I actually wondered if, upon hearing this, the floor would call surveillance and have them verify that the board was what he "re-created" before paying out the $500.  But the dealer didn't mention it.

My thought is, he could easily get in trouble for it.  If someone looks over the footage and sees what he did, they would confirm (or worse, deny) that the Royal was made.  Wouldn't they want to know that he had pointed this out to the floor?  Would he get in trouble for trying to cover up what he did?

Or….is it a case of them routinely checking the tape on any high hand bonus payout so he didn't have to call it to his floor's attention?  I only thought of that when I was writing this up just now.  I don't know how it works.

All I know is if I was that dealer, I'd sure as hell cover my ass by letting the floor know exactly what happened. I would think if you're a dealer and anything out of the ordinary happens—especially if there's a bonus involved—you'd want to let the floor know. If somebody in surveillance did see it, they could easily think that maybe the dealer was cheating for the player to get him the bonus.  And if somehow, we were all wrong and the player really didn't have a Royal Flush, oh boy.  I said that I thought the player was a newbie. I can't recall if he won any other hands this way previously—it's at least remotely possible he turned over his cards because he thought he had to to claim the pot.

Can you imagine if they gave the guy the $500 and then later someone noticed the tape, saw what the guy did, examined it further and saw there was no Royal?

Maybe it's nothing.  But I thought about it a lot.  Any dealers/floor people out there think this was handled poorly by the dealer?  Or is it standard?


  1. I think deliberate spoilers should be considered justifiable homicide. I remember when you and I (and "Danny") were in line in Westwood to see "The Empire Strikes back" the day after it opened, and some slob walked by in a home-made T-Shirt that said "Thaw Out Han Solo."

    1. Of course I remember that. Or the story the "tall skinny kid" told of having someone shout "It's on's Earth" at people waiting to see the original Planet of the Apes for the first time.

      Or the fake spoiler we came up with for Close Encounters ("Richard Dreyfuss is an alien.")

      But I agree, the death penalty is too good for these people. No argument from me.

      I was originally going to do an entire post railing about this particular situation, but it would have been really bad politics for me professionally.

  2. In today's world, with social media, any expectation of avoidimg spoilers is just wishful thinking after a movie premieres. I don't try to avoid spoilers anymore, i either go opening night or embrace what's there. There are too many ways spoilers come up to think you can avoid them all.

    1. I've heard that argument before, but I don't accept it. First of all, I DID see the movie opening night (technically that is, although there were some "advance" showings the night before) and also you can have spoilers even before the movie premieres (I heard that Luke & Leia were brother/sister before the movie came out).

      Of course you can't guarantee it, but for people not to exhibit common courtesy and hold off thru at least an opening weekend is shameful.

      In this case, the person who spoiled it was a minor celebrity who was trying to be a dick (and succeeded). I find the person who did the rewtweet (the person I follow) unforgivable.

  3. I'd 100% have said that I had to flip the board back over to make sure. Since then the floor person would call Surveillance to just verify the board is what they have said it is. Cover your ass because shit rolls downhill especially in a poker room. I know of a story that I was told from another room (not the one I worked in) had paid out a player for a high hand bonus that did not qualify for it and when it came up a day later, heads rolled.


    1. Thanks, Stan. I think it would be especially important for the dealer to cover his ass since the first "board" he flipped back over was the wrong one!