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Poker Etiquette: Defending Your Dealer

Poker Etiquette: Defending Your Dealer
by Loki Luchs of

I’ve never been one to be superstitious. It’s bad luck. I’m not one to preach about Karma, the cosmic forces, or the “Poker gods,” because I don’t believe in them (and I don’t want to incur their wrath). As much as I don’t want to, I have to admit that there is a balance to poker… you can call it the “What-goes-around” proverb, the “You-reap-what-you-sow” curse, or the “You’re-going-to-have-kids-just-like-you” parental damnation, but there is a certain level of justice at the table. When you see a player being a jerk and you think he deserves to lose all of his money, he usually does. This divine intervention never seems to be more obvious than when a player abuses a dealer. Of all the cosmic feux paus in poker, the worst is being rude to the dealer.

This may shock some of you, but they have a tough job. Think about the rudest player you’ve ever played with; now, imagine having to put up with four of them at a time, day after day after day, when they believe that you are the reason that they’re losing at cards. Just in case you’re about to counter this argument, a dealer DOESN’T actually have any control over the cards they give you… yet, for some reason, every time some jackass gets the second best hand, they blame the dealer for their luck. (Naturally, the dealer isn’t given credit for the good luck these players get, which always is attributed to their own prodigious skill!) In short, the dealer is the lightning rod at the table. They get sworn at, have cards thrown at them, and take all other general abuse. This is when they HAVEN’T made a mistake! When they have, watch out!


Now am I saying that dealers are always right? Absolutely not! I’ve lost as much (probably more) money than an average player by dealer incompetence. Good dealers come with experience… they get experience by at one point being inexperienced. Being an experienced player, for every mistake they make, there’s a mistake YOU made by not preventing it! When dealers have been dealing for hours on end, they’re going to occasionally misdeal. On a few of these misdeals, you’re going to have aces. You should have waited until he finished to look at them. On a few hands, they’re going to accidentally scoop your cards away when you were still in a hand; you should have put a protector on them to keep them in play. Sometimes a dealer will misread a hand. Don’t let your cards go until the winner is declared!

Dealers hold the game together. An outstanding one will deal efficiently, know every regulation, correctly follow the action, and stand up to table bullying. They keep the action and the atmosphere interactive so that the game is fun. Despite this, some players don’t appreciate the difference between the bad, the good, and the ugly. When you have a good dealer, tip accordingly. For instance: You’re at a 1/2 no limit hold’em game and your dealer is strong. I will usually tip a dollar for every fifty dollars in the pot. If I win a hundred dollar pot, I tip two bucks; if I take down a two hundred and fifty dollar pot, I tip a five. I also try to compensate slightly for the players who abuse them verbally by occasionally tipping for not dealing me a hand for an hour. My logic is if other people don’t tip because they blame the dealer for bad luck, why shouldn’t I tip the dealer for the good luck of NOT giving me the second best hand?

The dealer is an ally. Be sure that you give him or her the proper respect. Greet them when they come to the table. Thank them when they leave. If the table is telling jokes, tell them one, too. Most importantly, if another player is abusing them, don’t be afraid to stand up for them. Aside from gaining their respect and potential help in the future, it’s just the right thing to do!


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