If you play much blackjack, you’ve had dealers who make the experience breezy fun. They’re friendly as well as efficient. They move the game along but will take time for inexperienced players. Players and dealers sometimes seem to form a community, as the dealer asks players about their interests and gets to know them.
When dealers are friendly, attentive, congratulate player wins and give thanks for tips, it makes the experience more pleasant.
But sometimes it feels like the dealers would rather the players weren’t there at all. Grumpy and inattentive, they can make you wonder if you’ve chosen the right place to play.
I’ve certainly seen extremes on both ends, along with plenty of points in between.
Tim, a regular reader of this column, saw both extremes in the same session. There was little doubt which experience he preferred.
“I rode the dealer roller-coaster through a long session,” he tells me. “When I bought in, Deb was dealing, and she was great. She’d say, ‘Let’s win some money’ after a shuffle and give us a ‘There you go!’ after a blackjack or ‘That’s the one we needed’ when she’d deal one of us a 5 on top of a 16.”
Wishing the players well makes good sense for dealers. It helps players relax, and players who feel the dealer is on their side are more likely to tip. Tim says dealer Deb went a little farther in helping players relax and have fun.
“She’d ask us where we were from, and she seemed to know someone in every one of our hometowns,” Tim says. “She’d tell us, ’Oh, I have an uncle in Chicago. I love it there.’ ‘Baltimore? One of my school friends was from Elkridge. That’s nearby, right?’ And she’d ask us what we liked to do in our hometowns.
“It was all very pleasant, like we were all friend and neighbors. Of course, she reaped the rewards. One guy bet $1 for her on every hand. The rest of us didn’t do that, but it didn’t take very many wins in a row before there was a bet for Deb. After every bet for her, she’d give a big thanks, and on winners she’d say, ‘We won that one,’ emphasis on the ‘we.’”
Things changed when the dealers changed tables.
“When Deb rotated off the table, we got Kim,” Tim says. “Kim said, ‘Let’s lose some money,’ and there were a few laughs. ‘Bet you thought I was going to say ‘Let’s make some money.’ We all figured she was joking, teasing us a little, but she wasn’t.
“She almost never said anything. She didn’t thank anyone for tips. Pretty soon, even the guy who had tipped on every hand stopped tipping. She didn’t tell stories or ask us anything. The lively neighborhood became a dead table. One lady asked Kim for advice on a hand, and she said, ‘I don’t care what you do with it. It’s your hand.’”
The full act went over like a lead balloon, according to Tim. Fortunately, Deb rotated back onto the table and Kim moved on.
“A couple of guys left the table,” Tim says. “Some of us stuck it out until Deb came back with a big smile and ‘Let’s make some money.’”
With Deb’s return, tips increased. That wasn’t lost on the players. One told Deb that if dealers pool tips — standard procedure in U.S. casinos — Deb was getting robbed.
“Deb told us, ‘Kim’s OK, really,’” Tim says. “I suppose she had to say that.”
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).