While I was in Chicago over the weekend, I took the opportunity to play some poker while my daughter spent the day at work.
I’d heard about a new poker room, Rivers Des Plaines, that had quickly become the place to play in Chicagoland, a title that used to belong to the Horseshoe casino in Hammond, Indiana. The RDP poker room is absolutely beautiful, with lots of tables, good lighting, an efficient staff, and lots of action.
By checking the Bravo Poker Live app, which has info on which poker rooms offer which games and how long the waiting lists are, I saw that good games often started by 9:30am, even on weekdays. I never get a chance to play daytime poker in St. Louis, so I was looking forward to this opportunity. Since I was there on a Friday, I arrived by 9am to get on the lists for Pot Limit Omaha games at various stakes.
Sure enough, I was seated in a low-level PLO game by 9:15am, then moved to a higher-stakes table when it opened 10 minutes later. I didn’t know any of the other players, but they were clearly locals who’d sat next to each other many times before — and liked to talk.
I appreciated that because poker isn’t as much fun if there’s no social aspect. I’ve been in too many games where no one said anything, which makes the hours seem interminable. That wasn’t a problem with these guys. They kidded each other about work and life, they argued about sports (the Bears and Cubs and White Sox and the NBA coach who’d been suspended for sleeping with an underling), and lots more. There was no down time in this group.
Then came the big brouhaha. One of the guys who talked the most and played the loosest got lucky and pulled in a huge pot against two other players. It consisted of a large number of stacks of five-dollar chips, which took up most of the room on the table in front of him. He called over a chip runner to “color up,” meaning his red $5 chips would be taken to the cashier, exchanged for black $100 chips, then returned to him in the higher denomination. But the chip runner told him he wasn’t allowed to color up because the casino has a rule allowing him to exchange a player’s cash for chips, but nothing else.
Well, that lit this guy’s fuse. He started in on the runner, a dealer-in-training who had to do this menial task for a week or two before being allowed to sit at a table and toss cards around. The newbie kept apologizing, but the player got more frustrated. Eventually, he demanded a floor supervisor come over. This is not an unusual request, as those folks in suits are often called upon to make decisions about hands, answer questions about the game, and handle situations before they get out of control.
When the floor guy arrived, the player lit into him, claiming another chip runner had colored him up last week, that this was a stupid rule, and that the casino was keeping this runner from earning an extra tip for making the exchange. I agreed with him on the last two points, but it was clear the floor guy couldn’t do anything about it, either. That didn’t mollify the player, who kept making the same points over and over again, refusing to accept reality.
That’s when I chimed in. I know that, as the out-of-towner, I should have kept my mouth shut, but I couldn’t help myself. I asked the floor man, “Excuse me, but did you enact this rule or are you just enforcing it?” He seemed surprised at the question, and after a couple of seconds said, “I’m enforcing it.” To which I replied in the general direction of the angry player, “That means arguing with him isn’t going to change anything, so can we get back to playing poker?”
Someone else chimed in that complaining to this floor person might get him to tell his bosses that the customers didn’t like the rule. I answered, “That’s true, and I think he’s got the message. Now, since we’re paying $11 a half hour to sit in this game, can we please play cards??”
This happens every day in retail, restaurants, doctor’s offices, and every other service industry. Consumers raise their voices to demand a policy be changed from people who don’t have the power to make that change. Too often it results in loud, abusive behavior — which never makes things better.
Of course, the player could have racked up his own chips and carried them to the cage to be colored up, but that would have meant missing a few hands. To him, that was akin to folding, which he was not in the habit of doing. Fortunately, a friend of his who was not yet in a game agreed to handle the responsibilities while the game resumed.
Unfortunately for the complainer, the whole thing had him steaming — or on tilt, as poker players say — and he proceeded to give away quite a few of those newly-acquired black chips over the next few hands. Before you ask, yes, I got some of them.
But I resisted the urge to ask a chip runner to color them down for red chips.