♠ Friday, August 03, 2007
Survival of the Fattest
I expected to write this yesterday.
After writing my last post, with opening-night jitters, I expected to write yesterday that everything went okay. But I never dealt a hand on Thursday morning.
During the afternoon and evening of August 1, the casino was open for various special audiences: The tribe in the afternoon, and VIP's in the evening. Then, at midnight, the casino was open to the general public. However, all of the promotional material said that we would open at noon on August 2. So, when I got there at 4 AM, the casino mostly had holdovers from the night before, and not many of those. At the slowest point of the morning—probably around 7:00—there were maybe 25 customers in the entire casino. And all the dealers of the graveyard (excuse me, "sunrise") shift were there. With the other employees, the customers were probably outnumbered five to one or more.
So I never dealt. There were two games going in the pit I was assigned to, when I got there, and two other dealers tapped into those tables. So I went on break, preparing to come back and relieve one of them. I found, instead, that they were preparing to close down Pit 2 completely, and they sent me into Pit 5. When we got there, the pit manager looked at us agog, since he had at least 15 dealers he didn't know what to do with.
We ended up doing makework. In this case, it consisted of setting up decks for the day shift, so that it wouldn't take as long to get tables open for them. This is normally something that the dealer opening the table does, so it truly was makework. At a little after 11:30, with all the tables prepared to open, we were told we were done for the day. People had been coming in pretty steadily, and when I passed the front entrance of the casino, I saw a pretty long line of cars backed up to turn in.
I reported today expecting the casino to likely be rather busy. I never did get a handle on how busy we were, overall, but my pit stayed pretty hoppin’ all morning. Other people told me that they weren't that busy, though, so maybe I was the lucky one. And, bear in mind, it was early in the morning.
I reported to Pit 2 this morning to be assigned rapidly to a mini-baccarat game. This is a game which superficially looks a bit like blackjack, but it really comes down to simply deciding whether the player hand will win, or the banker hand, or that they'll tie. The players have no say in whether either the player or the banker will draw to improve their hands. My job is simply to pull out four to six cards, and then take the losing bets, and pay the winners. "Player" and "Banker" bets pay even money, but a winning "Banker" bet must pay 5% commission on the winnings. In practice this simply means that a player who bets $20 is only paid $19. (Some other casinos keep track of the commission separately, and a player must pay his cumulative commission before he leaves.) The "Tie" bet, when it wins, pays 8 to 1 (or, on some tables, "9 For 1," which means the same thing), and "Player" and "Banker" bets push. Our tables also have a bonus bet (the "Dragon Bonus"), which can pay as much as 30 to 1, although I never paid more than 10 to 1 on it.
Baccarat players skew heavily Asian, as I've stated, and in fact I dealt to quite a number of them. But the three longest-tenured players on my table were all middle-aged white men, all of whom were averaging more than $100 a hand. One of them, who had been at the table about fifteen hours when I left, frequently bet between $300 and $800, with the occasional $1200–$1400 bet. One of the Asians, a woman whom I have to say that I was ruthless to with the cards, made repeated bets of over $1000, including one $1600 winner I got to pay. In fact, most of the Asians ended up losing their shirts at my table. One fellow said it had been a bad night for him, and we all smiled and nodded, and then he brought out three or four (empty) bank wrappers to prove it. That was fairly impressive.
I was indeed nervous when I sat down, but not nearly as much as I would have been the night before. In fact, it had pretty much dissipated after the second hand. Although I know for a fact I overpaid a player at least once, the single biggest mistake I made that was really and truly my fault was on my first "Banker" winner, when I paid everyone 1:1 on their bets (did not take the commission). But the players took them, making it difficult to reconstruct, and I just ended up treating it as "lesson learned" and moving on. Surveillance probably made a bunch of little notes on me, with some of the mistakes that I made, including that one. Other "mistakes" I made were just areas where I was unsure of procedure; often when I didn't know the procedure for something I just did it in my own stumbling way, and I'm sure I'll hear about those eventually.
Overall, I think I did fairly okay today. One of the pit bosses said that she couldn't tell that I'd never dealt before, which was good, particularly with how nervous I was before it happened. To those who told me "you'll be fine," you were right. Fortunately, I knew you would be, and my nervousness therefore never rose to the level of a full-on panic. There were probably others for whom it did, but I never heard any stories about that.
I don't know if I might be confirming a stereotype, here, but almost none of my Asian players tipped me. Occasionally one of them would put out a 25¢ bet for the dealers, but those almost always lost. I think one Asian player put out one $5 bet for the dealer, and it lost. Most of my tokes came from the fifteen-hour guy, who would occasionally toss me $25, and probably toked $200ish while I was there.
For those who are curious about the poker room, there were two tables going when I got there (a $3/$6 limit and a $1/$2 no-limit), but the limit game broke up during the morning. When I left, there were two tables again, but I didn't see whether the second might have been another $1/$2 game (as I assume). Nobody seems to know anything about the Royal-over-quad-Fours promotion I mentioned in my last post, so that seems to be disconfirmed, wasting all of the math that I did (that probably nobody looked at anyway). Not only is the bad-beat jackpot for Holdem seeded with $44,440, but the secondary jackpot was, as well, and the primary and secondary Omaha jackpots, for about $167,000 seeded into those player jackpots. I forgot to find out what the qualifiers are; I still suspect they're rather low.
Oh, and I'm not actually the fattest: There are at least two table-games people on my shift who are fatter than I am. But whichever of them is the fattest, probably survived, too, so my headline still works.
Inquiring minds want to know!
So far we haven't seen signs of me self-destructing, but there tend not to be for the first month or more of a new job.
Although I think, from this side, I can recognize those signs, if I am indeed fired, or quit, it will probably come as a surprise to me, and you'll see a post along those lines out of the blue.