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What You Can Learn in a Casino: #27, Getting Respect and Affection28 May 2001
© ¨ PLAYING IT SMART by ALAN KRIGMAN § ª
What You Can Learn in a Casino: #27, Getting Respect and Affection
You can learn things in a casino that are useful in real life. Number 27 on my list is how to get respect and be, to quote Willy Loman, "well-liked." I don't mean "money talks," which some think helps achieve this goal but only creates the illusion it does.
The trick ‑‑ actually, it's more an insider's secret than a trick ‑‑ is knowing when and where to say "please" and "thank you." The answer, in a nutshell, is whenever and wherever you possibly can.
Here's an example of how "please" works. I was at an especially cold blackjack table. In a particularly ruinous round, two of my tablemates had bet big, got nines against a six, doubled, and drew aces. They cratered when the dealer flipped a 10 then drew a five for 21, both exhausting their stacks of chips in so doing. One pulled out an envelope, extracted five Ben Franklins, and mutely set them on the felt. The other took five C-notes from his pocket and slid them toward the dealer, saying "change, please."
What impressions did these players create by subtly different ways of buying more chips? The first came off as a weak gambler who didn't understand the game adequately enough to know what kind of downswings to expect, was in over his head and sweating the loss, and dug into tomorrow's stake in a dispirited attempt to recover today's. The second exuded aplomb in the face not of defeat but temporary setback. Whatever dark thoughts he may have been harboring, he projected the image of a proficient player who knew his initial buy-in might be inadequate to weather a normal cold streak and was continuing not in despair but confidence.
Both, it transpired, recouped some but not all of their earlier losses and quit. The first of the two left with nary a "fare thee well." The second prepared to go by asking the dealer, "could you color me up before you shuffle, please?" As this transpired, the pit boss ambled over and commented, "Strong come-back, Mr D. Nice playing. Anything I can get you? How 'bout a comp for lunch?"
I saw the benefit of "thanks" while showing a friend some nuances of craps. The player next to us was betting $10 on Pass and taking $50 odds, then making a $10 Come bet with $50 odds. I noted she regularly thanked the dealer when she got a payoff. At one juncture, she made a Come bet then turned from the table to order a drink. While her attention was off the game, the shooter rolled a five, then threw again and bucked the five right back.
Instead of just paying $10 for the flat Come bet, the dealer advised the boxman, "The lady in the corner always takes full odds but was talking to the waitress, and we moved the dice out before she dropped the money." The boxman told the player to toss two quarters on the layout. She did, and the dealer set up the odds, then took the whole bet down and paid her $85.
After the player had gone, I praised the dealer for going to bat for the woman. He responded that it was a pleasure to have such a thoughtful person at the table. "Some people blame us and get nasty when the dice are cold, like it was our fault. She always thanks us when she wins a bet. I don't think she figures we're responsible when they're hot. But she seems to appreciate how hard we work to keep the action running smoothly. If I can help someone like that with what the casino lets me do, I do it."
Sure, folks in the glamorous gaming biz earn big bucks for prestige jobs. Many get tips to boot. But hearing "please" and "thank you" can heighten their sense of self esteem. True, casino workers can sometimes reciprocate ‑‑ reinforcing the value of these three little words (or two, if you say "thanks" instead of "thank you," which is just as good). But, the lesson carries outside, to real life, where you may get nothing in return for kindness to strangers or even acquaintances or relatives. Nothing tangible, that is. You often get respect and become well-liked, factors which, deep down inside, are what many solid citizens really crave. And, you can practice in your favorite casino until you get the hang of it. As the poet, Sumner A Ingmark, observed:
Those who learn to be polite,
Rarely have to be contrite.
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