I had to bring my wife to the emergency room last February. While she was being treated, I had the opportunity to watch the doctors and nurses in a real ER deal with patients who were, at times, not just sick but sickening. One drunken guy, who kept complaining that he was having chest pains, wouldn?t let the doctors examine him. He was abusive and smelled something awful.
Not once did any doctor or nurse lose their tempers and do what I wished to do ?throw his ugly carcass into the street. Not once did one of the professionals working that ER room say to this obviously creepy piece of dreck: ?Why don?t you just go somewhere and die?? I was amazed that they were able to take this beast?s abuse and act calm and professional. They finessed him into finally allowing them to examine him ? and save his ornery life to boot! These emergency room folks were, to put a very fine edge on it, not at all human. Their responses were incredibly calm and contained.
And that is just what we expect from all our professionals, isn?t it? Cool, calm, considerate reactions to hyper-charged people and events. Do you want policemen who panic in scary situations (leave that to the rest of us)? Do you want surgeons losing their cool when something goes amiss inside Mr. So-and-So? Do you want teachers who flip out when confronted by the appalling ignorance and incredible arrogance of the youths they teach? Of course not. When Miss Jones confronts little Timmy Terrible about his behavior, we want her to be reasonable and controlled; we don?t want her wielding an axe and cleaving little Timmy?s head in twain, do we?
Dealers are in the same situation as other professionals, yet many of them have not been prepared properly to take the ?heat? of disgruntled, grumpy, nasty, drunk and exasperating players. They either learn to deal with these behaviors while on the job, thus advancing up the chain of casino-dealer jobs from break-in joints to plush pleasure palaces, or they develop a ?reactionary? personality and get stuck somewhere in a dead-end dealing job where they fester and fume. And let me tell you I have witnessed dealers and pit personnel who were the antithesis of cool professionals many times in my casino-playing career.
There are some casinos that are notorious for their nasty dealers and even nastier pit personnel. Players coming into these places to play at these tables ? even happy, fun-loving players as opposed to grumps ? find themselves greeted by coldness and even hostility. I once saw a dealer who lost several hands to a player get a swift kick in her leg by the floorperson at one Vegas, on the Strip, no less. Needless to say, instead of the dealer rooting for the player to win (which is always good public relations for a casino), the dealer, in order to avoid another boot, became increasingly more agitated and alarmed as the player kept winning. It was an uneasy, awkward atmosphere, to say the least.
I once saw a pit boss in this same casino tell a player he couldn?t play blackjack anymore because the player was winning. Was the guy an expert card counting, shuffle-tracking professional advantage player looking to take hundreds of thousands out of that casino with his team of accomplices? No. He didn?t even know the basic strategy for the game! He was a progressive bettor who spread from $5 to $10 to $15 as he won. He happened to hit a hot streak and won a bunch of $15 bets. He got the boot, albeit not in the same way as the dealer had. He left the casino dazed, confused but vowing never to return.
So why are some casinos a pleasure to play in, with happy dealers, charming pit personnel and professionalism all around? And why are other casinos filled with unhappy, thoroughly unprofessional dealers and pit personnel? Why are grumps handled with aplomb in some places, while in other places it?s hard to tell the grumps from the workers?
First, as I stated, most dealers have never taken intensive courses in human behavior modification. They are never taught the techniques necessary to handle those individuals who would try Job?s patience while simultaneously keeping their games fun and free-wheeling for the other patrons. If they learn these skills, they learn them on the job, catch as catch can. It?s survival of the fittest. If these dealers are lucky enough to land jobs in casinos where they are treated as professionals, they thrive ? as do the playing-paying customers. On the other hand, many dealers ? who might have become professionals given a little instruction in behavior modification ? merely turn sour as they deal with the grown up versions of Timmy Terrible.
Dealers have to take a page from the ER doctors and nurses, who undergo intensive training before they mingle with the mangled in mind, body and spirit. Unquestionably, many hospitals make their reputation based on their emergency care and all casinos make their reputation among table-game players based on how these players feel about the dealers. After all, the dealers are the folks players mingle with the most; they are the first line in the public relations flanks. As such, they have a lot to do with the table-game bottom line.
Bad dealers, who ultimately will become bad pit personnel if given the opportunity, are all too human, which is a shame, because they wear their moods like clothing and react improperly when handling players who could be ?finessed.? Good dealers have learned the knack of overcoming ?normal? reactions to people and events while maintaining a cool, calm, confident exterior. Professionals can?t afford to act human, and that?s a fact! If it weren?t, you?d never go to a hospital or call a cop when a crisis arose.
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