Card Room Employees
In the last article, I gave you a little background on my qualifications to write about poker, as well as an introduction to what this series would be all about. Now that you know a little about me, I will tell you about some of the cardroom employees whom you will meet and see on a regular basis. Cardrooms across the country have different job titles as well as functions for the same types of positions. Regardless of what you call an employee, here is a basic list of many of the poker room personnel with whom you are bound to interact as you become a regular poker player in a public domain.
Brush or Board Person - This generally is the first employee you will meet upon entering a cardroom. It is this person's function to make you feel welcome and to answer any and all poker-related questions about the cardroom. From the brush (or board) person, you should be able to find out what games and limits are spread, what the general rules are, what the minimum buy-ins are, and so forth. From here, you will be able to get into a game or onto a list for the game of your choice. You also will be given options of what you can do while you wait. Maybe there is a waiting area for players, a coffee bar, or an alternate game in which to play. Perhaps the cardroom has a beeper system that will page you when your seat becomes available. The brush or board person will become your best friend, and tips always are appreciated for a job well done!
Chip Runner - Many cardrooms utilize chip runners in conjunction with dealers who sell chips from their racks. This is especially true in the California cardrooms where the dealers do not sell chips to the players, except to make small change. Once you are seated in a poker game, the chip runner will take your cash and either change it up from a movable bank that he carries, or take your money to the cage to make your chip purchase for you. In either event, he will see to it that you get the chip denomination that works best for your game. If he has to make a run to the cage with your buy-in, don't worry…he will be back with your chips! It always is a nice gesture to tip the runner when he gets you your chips or in passing on your way out. This is his basic function along with getting chips for the dealers as needed. He also can assist you in getting cushions, ashtrays, side tables, or whatever it is that you need to make your card-playing experience a good one based on the rules and availability within the casino.
Cocktail or Food Server - Self-explanatory here. In many cardrooms, drinks are provided gratis. Throughout Nevada, all beverages including alcohol, are provided to the player compliments of the house. It is customary to tip (or "toke", as is the preferred jargon) the beverage server as you would in any restaurant. In poker rooms in other states, it may only be soft drinks and/or coffee and tea that are free. In most of these establishments, you still may buy the beverage you prefer during legal hours. Serving food at the table is also the norm in many venues and when this is the case, it is either provided free of charge or at greatly reduced rates than you would find at the restaurant or snack bar. Food provided can range from the hot dog snack bar fare to the nearly gourmet, depending on your locale. Check with your favorite cardroom for its policy. Obviously, tipping is appreciated especially when the service is good and the food is free or reasonably priced.
Dealers - The dealers are the most "hands on" of all the poker room personnel, and they are the ones with whom you will share the most interactions and time as you become a regular player. A poker dealer will run the game for you, and all of the other players, and will insure fairness and accuracy in the game. The house pays the dealers but they work primarily for tokes. It is customary for the winner of the pot to toke the dealer each hand. The size of the tip is a personal choice but is generally anywhere from $1 to $2. The average size tip, depending on the part of the country, is about $1. Poker dealers almost always keep their own tokes; they do not chop with the other dealers. Therefore, if you get to know and like a particular dealer, one who runs the game quickly and error free, it is a nice gesture to reward this employee a little extra than you may another. If you have any questions or problems while in the game, the dealer is the one who can assist you either with the answer or with instructions as to the proper channel to take.
Shift Manager or Floorperson - These folks are the ones who oversee the entire show. Called different names in various locations, the people who work the floor handle all of the "decisions" and all that goes into the daily operations that you, as a player, would not be aware of. If there is an altercation or disagreement in a game, it is the floorperson or shift manager who will make the "decision". Dealing, as well as playing errors, occur and once in a while, someone needs to interpret the rules and make a judgement call based on black and white rules or the "spirit" of the rules. This generally is a thankless job, but someone has to do it! To avoid getting in the middle of an accident waiting to happen, it is important to pay attention and learn the house rules.
Of course there are other personnel in the cardroom but these are the primary ones with whom you will interact. This is a general overview of the basic employees and their jobs in a cardroom. Rules and staffing differ. Learn the basics and you will quickly be able to pick up the nuances of the rule differentiations from here to there.
In the next few articles, we will look at some of the different games and limits that are played in public cardrooms, as well as some general guidelines to teach you how to get into a game and how to avoid intimidation factor. Until next time,