Regular tournament players will have seen this issue looming on the horizon – we have a serious lack of poker dealers. It’s a problem that might soon impact our ability to play the game we love.
Poker.org highlighted this problem yesterday when it revealed that the organisers of the World Series of Poker, which stages the world’s biggest poker festival, had to do all it could to entice dealers to Las Vegas this summer.
Can you imagine tournaments or maybe entire series of tournaments being cancelled or scaled back because the games couldn’t run?
It would have a serious impact on our game and its reputation.
This shortage of available dealers is not down to one thing. I’m sure the pandemic didn’t help. When there was no live poker, many mostly self-employed dealers would have needed to find alternative employment. Some have now been lost to the game as a result, and it’s understandable why that is the case. While undoubtedly new talent is coming through, the pace of training them has evidently not kept up.
Pay and conditions also play their part, just as they do for so many jobs these days. But that is where we, the players, especially those who play the game professionally, can and indeed must do more to help and show our appreciation for our dealers.
Pro dealers keep games running smoothly (Image: Rob Watkins CC BY 2.0)
I have seen the staffing problem for myself. With every tournament you go to, dealers are a huge issue right now. One thing I would like to ask my fellow poker players is to definitely take care of dealers better.
Tip them well – the great majority of players will tip as standard. But from now on, think about why you do it. The dealers work so very hard. In many ways, they do a thankless job because the only time they really get any attention is on the very rare occasion that they make a mistake. If they do, don’t berate them; we’re all human and make mistakes, no matter how frustrating it might be.
So, when you cash in a tournament, the typical tip you want to give is about 2%. And that’s not just if you win – get into the habit of tipping 2% whether you make the final table or min-cash. I know it doesn’t seem easy to tip when you don’t make big money, but at the end of the day, your dealers are out there working hard for you, and they rely on your tips to boost their pay to a reasonable amount.
Sitting there hour after hour, day after day, dealing for people who sometimes do not appreciate them, cannot be easy. And let’s not forget these are skilled people who go through serious training to get where they are.
We all love this game. We all want our live events to be huge. We all want lots of players to show up and make tournaments a success. But none of that will happen if we don’t have the available dealers.
If we all tip well and make an effort to be thankful and generous with the way we treat dealers at the tables, we might encourage more people to choose to deal as a profession. In this way, we can play our part in continuing to grow poker and help it evolve.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this game together, and we must take care of everybody in our industry.
Please, make sure you look after the people that you see every day, but you don’t really notice.