Friday, February 14, 2020

It Was Only Three Bucks

How much responsibility does a poker player have to maintain the integrity of the game?

I mean, if you are playing in a brick and mortar room, there's a dealer, and a floor person, and a shift manager to make sure the game is handled properly.  But what if you see a dealer make an error, or think you do, and it doesn't involve you? Should you say something?  Should you get involved?  Or should you mind your own business?  If the dealer goofs and costs one of the players money, isn't up to to that player to speak up for himself?  But anyone can make a mistake, and maybe the player who was "cheated": made the same mistake in his mind that the dealer did.  Or is a newbie?  Shouldn't we protect newbies so they keep coming back and playing?

I've seen some discussion quite recently about this very subject.  And I've heard varying opinions.  Where do you stand?

The simplest example would be the dealer pushing the pot to the wrong player.  The dealer misreads the hand.  And sometimes, even though the player who really won the pot thinks he really won the pot, he might be too embarrassed to speak up.  This would be especially likely if he was a new player.

Of course, if you are just observing, you might be afraid to speak up because it would be embarrassing if you were wrong and the dealer was right.

Well, I'm pretty sure I saw the dealer make an error at my most recent visit to Ventura.  And I didn't say anything.  You'll see why.

Here's the situation.  It was either the flop or the turn.  Player A made a bet, and Player B announced all-in.  It was quite an increase over the original bet, which was less than $50.  Player B had at least $400-$450.  Player A had two stacks of what looked like $100 each and three $1 chips.  This was after he made the initial bet.  I'm not sure if the street started two-handed but by the time it got back to Player A, it was definitely heads up.

Player A thought a bit  and then finally said, "call."  He pushed out in front of him the two stack of yellow chips he had (in the L.A. rooms, the $5 chips are yellow and the $1 chips are blue).  He did not push out the three blue chips he had, but of course, his verbal call and the pushing of any chips out in front of him clearly meant he was calling.  It was obvious that Player B had him well-covered.

Player B won. The dealer did not count any chips, as it was obvious that Player B had a lot more than Player A.  The dealer took the two stacks of yellow chips and pushed them to Player B.

And that was it.  He didn't grab the three blue chips that Player A had left over, or ask him to put them out for him to push to Player B.  He totally ignored them..  Player A rebought, but he kept ahold of those three $1 chips.

I knew this wasn't right.  He was covered, and the only way to continue in this hand was to put all his chips in play.  Including those three blue chips which he (apparently) forgot to push out.  The dealer should have caught it and insisted he pay the winner his last three bucks.

The only possible exception I've seen is in Vegas (never L.A.), where sometimes a player puts a dollar chip on the rail if he orders a drink.  That signifies he is holding back a buck to tip the waitress when he gets his drink. On very rare occasions, I've seen a player either call or move all-in and pick up a single chip from his stack and tell the dealer and his opponent that he was holding out that chip for the waitress.  He is kind of asking permission to do that and I've never seen anyone object.

But this wasn't the case here.  Player  A had not ordered a drink.  He didn't have those chips on the rail.  They were part of his stack—the part he didn't push out with his big stacks of yellows.

I couldn't think of any way this wasn't a mistake and that Player B wasn't getting short-changed $3.  But after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to keep quiet.  For one thing, by this time I knew Player B was an experienced player.  He surely knew that he was entitled to the three bucks.  It was on him to speak up, and if he didn't want to—or didn't notice—it was on him.  I suppose it was possible he did notice and didn't want to look cheap or even like he was rubbing it in by insisting on getting the guy's last three dollars.  But that's the rules, right?  He's entitled to those three dollars.  He surely would have had to pay the guy that extra three bucks if he had lost the hand.

The other reason I didn't speak up was….well, it was only three bucks.  Right is right and all, but to get involved in a hand I wasn't a part of for a lousy three dollar mistake—well, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

What do you think?  Should I have said something?

As to the game, there was one memorable hand that made it a nice session.  I had won a couple of really small pots from the blinds, then opened to $15 with pocket Jacks and didn't get a call.

Finally, down to about to about $245 or so (from my $300 buy-in), I looked down at pocket Aces.  I opened to $15.  It folded around to a guy who made it $35.  Everyone else folded and I thought for a bit before making it $90.  This guy had me covered but not by much.  He didn't waste much time before announcing "all-in."  To say I snap-called would be an understatement.  I don't think he'd finished saying the "n" when I said "Call!"  After the hand, the guy on my right commented on how fast I called.  "You called so fast…."  I said, "Well, there was no one else in the hand, there was no point in Hollywooding."  And of course by that time he knew I had Aces. Why draw it out?  Still, he seemed either surprised or impressed by how fast I called.

Obviously the other player wasn't pleased by my insta-call.  He said, "You have Aces?" as he turned over—you guessed it—two Kings.  Ah, the dreaded hand.   But would it be dreaded for him or me?  It had been awhile since I'd been involved in the classic Aces vs. Kings match-up.  It's always memorable, no matter what the result.

The flop had a lot of paint, but it was Queen-Jack-3, rainbow.  But the turn card really was interesting—and by interesting I mean scary as hell—a 10.  So he had an open-ender.  Six outs.  But only six.  Because if he caught his set on the river, I would have Broadway.  OTOH, if I caught my set on the river, he'd have the straight to crush my set of Aces.  So neither one of us wanted to catch our set.

The turn was another 3, totally harmless.  And I had my double up.  Suddenly there was nearly $500 in front of me.

I bled some chips for awhile and finally cashed out with a $160 profit.  Those cooler hands are nice when you are the cooler and not the coolee. 

OK, so what does the pic above have to do with this post?  Well both of us had really big pairs, so.....


  1. Dealer should say something and not put u in this position

    1. Well yes, that was my point. The dealer screwed up. He should have asked for the three blue chips or actually, from where he was sitting compared to the player, he could have easily grabbed them himself. He just screwed up. I am fairly saw he saw the chips, but I suppose it's possible he did not.

  2. Hey Rob, how ya been?

    In the 5/5 that I play and higher (at least at the Bike), the small chips weirdly don't play on all-ins. If you have 600 in yellow and 13 blue, you need to put in the ten blue, but not the other three. I always thought that odd. I don't know if it's the same at the other LA rooms.

    1. Doing well, Dave, hope you are as well.

      Well, as weird as that is, I suppose that makes since if the blinds are 5/5. What would you even need the $1 chips for? For split pots? i think you could just give the odd $5 chip to the person farthest from the button like it was a $1 chip in a 1/2 game. Of course I guess they use them for dealer tips, now that I think of it.

      But this game is 2/3 so they of course use the $1 chips for the blinds and the betting. I have never noticed that they kept the small chips in all-ins before and I'd be surprised if that were case. But I'm gonna look at it from now on!

  3. I guess that I would point out the $3. No reason the guy that lost should get to keep them.

    1. Yeah. But would you really do it for only three bucks? I mean it's the right thing to do but...