I am recalling the first day of that earlier LHE event -- this would have been exactly two weeks ago, Friday, 6/12. We had reached what I guess must’ve been the second 20-minute break (it was around 4:45 p.m. or so) and I was sitting there in the Brasilia Room at my laptop, catching up on something or another.
As is customary, dealers remained at the tables during the break, making sure there was no funny business with the chip stacks sitting around them. Dealers follow the same schedules of “pushes” -- rotating from table to table or onto breaks themselves -- whether the tourney is in progress or not. As I did on that day, I will sometimes spend my break sitting in there with them, and as no one else is allowed within the ropes at that time, it is usually relatively quiet and I can overhear their conversations. And sometimes I’ll get into conversations with them, too.
On that day, Event No. 27, the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event was about to get underway, and one of the tourney directors passed through asking the dealers if anyone wanted to go deal that event. No hands went up, and after the TD left there were a few chuckles. Dealing limit hold’em was obviously a much less arduous task than dealing PLO/8.
That’s not to say these guys aren’t working hard and especially conscientious about performing well. Although I know players will complain about dealer screw-ups -- and I’ve witnessed a few, to be sure -- they do a hell of a job, sometimes under fairly trying circumstances.
The last event I did, the $1,500 Mixed Game event (Event No. 42), obviously presented particular challenges to dealers, with the constantly changing games among which are included those tricky split pot games. “Have you ever run out of cards during triple draw?” asked one dealer of his neighbor during a break. No, was the reply. I asked him what he did in that situation, and he explained how they would be forced to reshuffle the discard pile in order to deal more cards.
During that event, all of the dealers had structure sheets out on the tables with them, and there was quite a bit of interaction between dealers and players regarding how the games were to be dealt, as well as about the different blinds, limits, antes, and bring-ins.
Most of these interactions were cordial and friendly, although I witnessed one particular player on Day 1 routinely giving the dealers an especially hard time. This older player is not at all like your typical WSOP player, and while he has something of a reputation for being irascible, I was taken aback at some of the epithets he used, many of which were inspired by the dealer’s racial or ethnic background. From what I saw, the dealers forced to endure such applesauce all remained professional, sitting and taking it, and not talking back.
The dealers at the final table for Event No. 42 were especially good, and I think they were probably chosen on the basis of their abilities. I remember overhearing one say something about how they were there for the duration -- i.e., there wouldn’t be another shift of dealers coming to replace them -- and how she was glad, because she especially enjoyed dealing that event. As that final table wound along, I picked up on the fact that those dealers and the players had begun referring to each other by their first names, having developed a kind of camaraderie after spending several hours together.
All of them -- players and dealers -- seemed to have a genuine desire to see everyone do as well as they could (if that makes sense). I remember Layne Flack, who caught some unfortunate cards at that final table, complaining in a humorous way after one hand about one of the dealers being “terrible,” referring simply to the fact that he kept getting dealt bricks. He and that dealer were later talking and joking during one of the breaks, and it was clear from where I was sitting that both respected each other.
It’s always nice to see such scenes, whether between players, between players and dealers, or among any of those involved in these tournaments. There’s a lot of pressure surrounding the staging and execution of the WSOP, and I think everyone benefits when those involved understand and appreciate the various challenges all of the participants face, including the dealers.
That said, I can’t say I mind going back to a relatively-easier-to-follow limit hold’em event after having gone through the challenge of covering the eight-game mixed event. And I’m guessing that some of the dealers probably feel the same.
Head over to PokerNews’ live reporting page to see how the first round of Event No. 50 goes. I would say to dial up that page around five o’clock Vegas time, but these late afternoon tourneys haven’t been starting until 5:15 or 5:30, usually. F-Train wrote an interesting piece yesterday about some of the problems that have arisen with these 5:00 p.m. tourneys, which have routinely started late and short-handed, thereby introducing some undesirable weirdness into the first couple of levels of play.
Of course, this event is a shootout, and it has also been capped at 1,000 entrants. Meaning I wouldn’t imagine many players would want to show up late for this one, so maybe we will start on time after all.
Whatever happens, I’ll be there. And I know the dealers will be, too.
(Trivia: From what cult film comes that picture at the top of the post?)