Sunday, March 28, 2010
To those unfamiliar with poker, it may come as a surprise that professional dealers make mistakes. For the most part they are like well-oiled, flawless poker machines, but for every 50 hours or so of grinding, I seem to see a mistake. I don’t mean a simple misdeal…those occur quite often. The mistakes I’m referring to are the more egregious type: misreading the board and pushing the pot to the wrong player. However, on my last run at Tunica, I saw an error that put these simple mental lapses to shame.
I was playing $1/3 No Limit Hold’em at The Horseshoe on a very busy Saturday night. It was at the tail end of an innocuous hand for what was about a $35 pot and I was only half paying attention. An elderly gentleman to my right, who had been playing solid poker all night, tossed up his cards and inadvertently hit the river card, knocking it out of place. The dealer instinctively straightened the cards, looked at them and then pushed the small pot to the gentleman’s opponent, a younger guy who seemed to be more interested in entertaining his friends sitting behind him than playing cards. No big deal, seen it a million times. After the hand was over, the attentive kid to my left told us what we all missed, including the dealer, the elderly gentleman, and the “entertainer.”
When the dealer straightened the gentleman’s hole cards,
he accidentally swapped one for the river card!
In an instant, the gentleman’s hand went from being a Q-10 to a 10-7. With another 10 on board, he still had a pair of Tens, but the “entertainer’s” hand went from a lowly Queen high to a winning pair of Queens! With the next hand underway, the table was atwitter with shocked murmurs as the events were made public.
As bad as the dealer’s mistake was, it was the gentleman’s duty to correct it immediately. From our conversation together, I knew the gentleman had been playing cards since he was 17 and his girlfriend’s mom was stealing his winnings. I can only assume he momentarily forgot his kicker and didn’t want to make a fuss over what might be nothing. In what I estimated to be roughly 50 years of poker, he admitted he had never seen that happen before, and chances were the mistake was his.
The “entertainer,” being endowed with a courteous demeanor, offered to estimate the pot size and return it to its rightful owner. The gentleman declined, apparently eager to have the incident disappear forever into the realms of poker obscurity.