The Boss Just Sat at Our Table with Game On: What Now?

A handful of times in my career, a boss has sat down at our table while my BP and I were playing a target game. Many players have never experienced that scenario, and completely panic when it happens for the first time. They’re not even sure what to make of it, but I’ll tell you.

First of all, determine whether the boss is sitting down because of your play or for some other reason. For instance, in early 2000, I was playing Three Card Poker at the Lady Luck. I was betting the table max, $100, from the center seat. One of the regulars, an older guy betting green, was sitting in the cutoff when the shift boss sat down in the third base seat right next to him. I don’t recall her name, but this shift boss was a middle-aged woman with long brown hair. She just chatted up the old dude, and even picked up his cards and played a hand or two. Her sitting down had nothing to do with me, so I played on without adjusting my bet or strategy at all. I even told her to call with the guy’s Jack-high hand against a dealer non-qualifier, but she folded on his behalf. Oh well, I tried to help.

You’ll also sometimes see, especially in a small casino or card room that’s really slow, a boss who wants to talk to a dealer on a deadspread that might sit at first base or third base, the two seats accessible from inside the pit, and chat for a while, or do paperwork to close out the rack.

Those are routine scenarios that are of no concern to the AP. We’re talking about when the boss sits right next to your BP and chats him up, especially when you’re actually winning on a target game. Prevention by keeping the accessible seats filled is a good idea, because bosses who sit tend to make a habit of it.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the bosses who sit. First, they’re cocky. They’re trying to project that they can and will sit where they want, when they want, and cannot be kept inside a pit. They get chatty with big players thinking that this behavior will make them look like bigshots, too. They think this sitting move makes them cool. Being that cocky does take a certain status, and I’ve never seen a floorperson pull the sitting move. Every sitter I’ve encountered was a pit boss or shift boss.

In terms of the game protection, some rookies think that the guy sits down to try to see the hole card. We’ve never found that to be the case. He sits down because he has no clue. If he thought you were getting the hole card, he’d probably just whisper something to the dealer to fix her, or he’d come around the table to stand behind you while the dealer deals. That’s a lot more dangerous than a boss sitting at the table. If he sits at the table next to the BP, he probably doesn’t have a good vantage point on the hole card anyway.

For the most part, the boss sits to bluff you and unnerve you. It’s an intimidation tactic, and he’s trying to see how you react. He doesn’t really know what’s going on with the game, but he’s desperately hoping that something obvious will appear to him once he sits down. Of course, nothing obvious does.

Your goal is to get the boss to leave, so just give him what he wants. Go ahead and take his advice on how to play the hands, or try to put him in a compromising position: encourage him to touch your cards and play your hand. That could give you a bit of leverage later. If you think he hasn’t put the BP with the spotter, then you might want the spotter to take a break so that the sitting boss doesn’t get too good a look at the spotter’s appearance and mannerisms. Ideally, I prefer that the shift boss not even be aware that I exist.

If you want the boss to depart quickly, have a spare teammate go buy in big on another table. A $2,600 buy-in should do it. Or, have a spare teammate call the pit and ask for the boss. Ask the boss for a comp.

Your BP just has to socialize for a bit, and not panic, and the boss will leave empty-handed. Remember, if he really knew what he was looking for, he wouldn’t have to sit down. You might have to cease signaling, or switch to a more subtle system, but the boss’ slick move is nothing more than a bit of downtime.

Posted in Advice for Players | 3 Comments

Tells: Dealer Toke Hustling

After a session playing with rookies, I like to ask, “What did you think of those dealers?” or “Who was your favorite employee?” Heat management is one of the most important aspects of the game, and sizing up the personnel is the key to heat management. “Bullet” and I tend to have identical assessments of the personnel, but the rookies often reach different conclusions. Rookies don’t realize that some of the apparently friendly interaction is nothing more than incessant toke hustling, and that grates on veterans, even those who are generous tokers (which Bullet certainly is, and I’m far from the cheapest myself). Continue reading

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Local Casinos: Economic Revival, or Black Hole?

When the Horseshoe opened in Cleveland a couple years ago, I happened to be in the area for a wedding, and I couldn’t believe how excited these people were to get a casino! They were saying how they’d finally be a real city, and the TV news showed the people lining up on the street to be the first ones in. Everyone was talking about it, and the reporters were even explaining on TV how you had to always put your card into the machine to get your points, and then showed the chart of what the points were worth! Continue reading

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The Real Problem with Problem Gambling

The University of Nevada has hosted the International Conference on Gambling and Risk-Taking every few years for the past several decades. Increasingly prominent on the agenda is problem gambling, and I attend many of these talks, since there aren’t as many talks on the mathematics of gambling.

While some of the speakers discuss treatment programs, many of the talks, surprisingly, are about identifying and defining problem gambling. At the 2009 conference, a speaker who worked for Harrah’s stated that their biggest challenge in tackling problem gambling was that they didn’t have any method to identify a problem gambler. “Oh well, I guess there’s nothing we can do then!” [shrug of shoulders] Continue reading

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Casino (Mis-)Management: Time Wasters #1-3

We can’t even cover all the ways casinos waste time in one post, so we’ll just look at three of them that relate to card handling. Now, if you’re in charge of cleaning up the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, do you send the custodians with their mops and vacuums in the middle of the trading day? Probably not. Continue reading

Posted in General Thoughts | 23 Comments