Did I Miss Something?

The narrow, high ceilinged room had poker tables stretched across what must have been a football field long area. Tables were arranged eight, nine, or ten in a row, but only four rows wide. Televisions were placed high on the walls but the room provided no clear view for anyone except the players seated just below them.

I wandered across the room and noticed the podium and the board. The board was sloppy, unorganized, and not very helpful. Two people were standing at the board, studiously ignoring the masses of humanity below them. What had we done to make ourselves so unworthy of acknowledgement? All I wanted was for my name to be placed on a list.

The room was larger than my first impression when I walked in. The room is not the narrow rectangle I had imagined but a rather awkward L-shape. I discovered more tables going back on this far side of the room. The tables were filled from front to back with the last 15 or 20 tables remaining empty in spite of the huge number of players milling around waiting to get in a game.

They called my name and said I had a seat at table 31. I tried hopelessly to figure out the numbering system as I looked for a friendly wave to direct me to my seat. Alas, it was not to be and I was left to struggle. I found the table and there was no seat. I stood around for an interminable amount of time while we waited for a floor man to come over and sort out the situation. I was placed back on the list and left to wait my turn again.

I spent a few minutes wandering the room trying to get the lay of the land so I would be able to find the next number called out with my name attached to it. I pondered for a second how I could be six down on the list and wondered just how many people were being jerked around in this poker dungeon.

I heard the crackle of the microphone and knowing I was next up I had already positioned myself adjacent to the soon to open seat. I waited while the ninety six year old woman collected herself to make the effort to stand up. I could not help myself and I reached out and provided a steadying force and a little help getting out of the chair. I was a little worried I may not have been able to let her go on her own. She eventually found her balance and scooted out of my designated space and I only missed about four hands.

I plopped into the chair and the dealer muttered “HAND” and I asked if I had to post and there was no response. I blurted out, “Deal me in, if I do not have to post”. I received a hand and announced that I was playing $100. The dealer seemed not to care about the game and so I asked for chips. The dealer made a half hearted attempt to call for chips and nobody acknowledged the request. I mucked hand after hand until I was in the blind and still I had no chips.

The next dealer that came into the game was far louder and tried to be more helpful. The chips were shouted for another half dozen times and still I had no chips to play with. I began to whine about the sad customer service and the locals began to defend the home turf. I asked a big stack to sell me a hundred until the chip runner arrived and of course that was not allowed at the casino. I was frustrated before the explanation of the rules and I was even more frustrated after they told me that I would receive no help and just had to learn to wait.

I waited 25 minutes to receive my chips and by that point I owed several people chips for pots I was light. The players were left to police the final accounting after I received my chips. Because the dealer had entered after I was already light in a couple pots he had no idea who owed how much to whom. Luckily the group was good natured and everyone was able to agree on the debts.

I played about four hours even though I was tired and not in the mood for too many strange rulings on this particular night. I managed to book a small win and had a decent time with the poker players. The casino employees fell well short of what I consider an acceptable standard of customer service.

As I discussed the lack of service the local players admitted the service was bad and they defended the lack of service by saying that the casino did not have to have good service, the room was full every night just the way they were running it. The players expressed an opinion that this was the only game in town and no matter how bad they were treated they would keep on coming to play.

There are other casinos just 20 minutes away and a couple them have far superior service. I could not help but wonder, “Did I miss something?”

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