Sunday, January 09, 2011

Re: Bellagio Insecurity

Stuart Snyder replied to my Bellagio Insecurity piece:

Maybe all of this is an argument in favor of a hybrid poker table -- one where real cards are dealt by a real dealer, but the betting and money is handled electronically -- no chips on the table.
Some casinos have experimented with electronic poker tables with no human dealer. You'd think they would appeal to the millions who play online and are used to virtual cards and chips, but the machines haven't been a success because live cash game players seem to like the feel (and sound) of cash and chips in front of them.
The point you make about not leaving cash on the table is a good one, and I suspect many people do not know you can (and should) take it with you when you leave the table temporarily for any reason. Do you have to let the dealer know you're doing this? And how much you're taking?
Yes, it's a good idea to alert the dealer, for two reasons. One, you're not allowed to remove cash or chips from a live game for any other reason (other than tipping your waitress) because the games are played for "table stakes," meaning whatever you have in front of you stays in play until you leave the game. However, you can pick up your cash with the promise of returning it to the table after a quick break. The other reason is because some games have a maximum buy-in (at Bellagio, you can't start in the $5-10 no-limit hold'em game with more than $1500), but if you're doing well, your stack may exceed that, and by telling the dealer that you've picked up a couple of thousand, you can be sure no one will object when you put it back on the table, even if it's over the buy-in cap.
As for protecting chips, some Poker rooms have acrylic chip covers available to secure chips when you leave the table for an extended break. This isn't perfect either, as someone could still grab your chips and go. But, they'd call attention to themselves by having to remove the cover, and hopefully the dealer or other players would notice and say something.
Correct, but those "playover" boxes are only used when another player on the waiting list wants to sit at your spot temporarily. The cover goes over your chips to protect them, and you get the seat back when you return from dinner (or whatever) up to an hour later.
For a variety of reasons, it's also probably a good idea to keep your chips in identifiable stacks that are easy to count. That way, if your chips are stolen, at least it should be clear on the videotape how much was taken.
During the game, you should do this so other players can clearly see how much you're playing, but it also makes things easier when they have to review the surveillance video for any number of reasons.
Finally, what about protecting your money when you go to places like the bathroom and your room? Do we have to be like women and go to the bathroom in pairs?
I've never asked a guy to join me in the men's room, and don't plan to start. But you should certainly be alert anywhere, any time you're carrying cash.