Watching for Mistakes

Because the river is the place where the payouts happen, and it’s the final stop of the (potentially crazy) train ride that this hand has represented, you need to really keep your eyes peeled for any last- minute weirdness that can happen. Although it’s true that professional cardrooms are required by gaming laws to keep things on the up-and-up, mistakes can (and surprisingly often do) happen. Of all the people in a cardroom, you are the only person who has your best interests at heart.

In all the cases mentioned in this section, if you see something amiss, call the dealer’s attention to it. If the dealer is of no help, ask for the floorperson. You don’t need to be an ass about it — be friendly, but firm, and point out the discrepancy you see.

Things to watch for include

Dealers who are raking too much: Rakes in most establishments are posted on the tables themselves and capped at some amount. If you see a dealer taking more than the permissible rake, call him on it.

Not being paid for your winning hand: If you have the winning hand, be sure you’re being paid for it. The most common thing dealers overlook is a counterfeit of this type: You hold A-Q, your opponent holds 8-8, and the board is K-K-9-9-3. You win with two pair, kings, and 9s with an ace kicker; your opponent has kings and 9s with an 8 kicker. (Another is when you hit a straight flush and your opponent holds the ace-high flush. Something like 4♠ 4♦ versus A♦ K♦ with a board of J♦ 8♦ 6♦ 5♦ 7♦.)

Other players stacking your chips: In a professional cardroom, don’t let other players help you stack your chips. You’d be surprised how dexterous some people can be with their palming of a chip.

Exposing your hand before betting action is done: Be sure that all betting action is completed before you expose your hand. If you’re uncertain of the state of the action, ask your dealer.

Other players trying to get cards back from the muck: Make sure players aren’t trying to retrieve cards from the muck.

Errors in huge tournaments: Extremely large tournaments, such as the main event of the WSOP, tend to be more error prone. This is partially because everyone — all the participants, including the dealers at the table — is nervous. It is also due to the fact that, because large tourneys have to bring in an unusual force of dealers from elsewhere, large tourneys commonly use dealers who are off their normal work schedule (or from different cardrooms entirely). Communications with the dealers tend to be “less than ideal.”

When you win an all-in, you in fact win it all: In No-Limit, be certain you have all chips of another player when you bust them out (including any house chip they were using to protect their cards). Ensure too that you have any paper currency that was part of the betting.

When you lose an all-in, you pay the proper amount: Also in No- Limit, if you lose an all-in and you have more than your opponent, be sure you’re paying an amount equal to his stack (and not just pushing all of yours over with no leftovers for you).

Flaws on the cards: If you see flaws on the cards — nicks, folds, bends, or creases that make them stand out — point them out to the dealer. It’s not very likely that people at your table are intentionally marring the cards, but Aces do get an unusual amount of wear and warp because of their importance relative to hole cards.

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