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That's What She Said: When Enough's Enough

That's What She Said

It's been well over a year since I've walked into a Las Vegas poker room to play poker — maybe even longer.

This week, I was so excited to find myself in Sin City with some free time, that the first thing I did was head out to dust off my very rusty skills.

After my first session, I pitched an idea for my weekly article — "When did recreational players get so good?"

It was approved and I went back for more "lessons," and hopefully some stories. After that session, I wanted to switch my focus to, "When did recreational players get so bad?"

Shots of tequila and losing a few pots $100 at a time has the ability to wipe the enthusiasm out of the best of us.

It's the week leading into March Madness, which makes for very busy poker rooms.

On one day, I'm wondering where all the enthusiastic, inebriated 20-somethings who used to fly in and throw their money into a pot without a care in the world are hiding. And the next day, I thought to myself, "Oh, here they are."

This week was a reminder of many poker things. Things like... I need to be more aggressive, and I'll never get that charming Vietnam Vet off his hand. NEVER.

But the big reminder, one that I have forgotten while hiding out behind the articles I write, is that poker is bipolar.

I witnessed players experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows — in the same hour. And while I love celebrating the highs (even if they aren't mine), the lows are just really sad.

Last night I was playing $1/$3 at the ARIA. There was a gentleman at my table; I'll call him Jack.

Jack was charming and talkative when I first sat down. But a few hours later, he turned into a mean-spirited person who was berating the dealer and throwing chips in disgust.

Shots of tequila and losing a few pots $100 at a time has the ability to wipe the enthusiasm out of the best of us. Jack kept throwing good money after bad.

Now, I realize that having someone throwing money recklessly into the pot is something every player hopes for when they sit down.

But when should we stop being players and start being humans?

At some point, Jack went through all the hundreds in his wallet and left to go the ATM. He didn't come back. And I must admit I felt a sigh of relief.

Thinking back on the night, I wonder if there was something I should have done to facilitate his leaving the table earlier?

Is there a responsibility for the dealer to raise a concern to the floorperson? When I asked my dealer about it, she said, "Only if a player complains."

There are laws in some states that can hold a bartender liable for serving someone that is inebriated.

Shouldn't there be something similar in an environment where free drinks are flowing, and money is at stake?

Getting drunk is bad enough. But add losing a ton of money to the scenario, and it seems like there should be some safeguards in place to make sure people really know what they are doing.

Now, before you say anything, I know we are all adults. As an adult, Jack should have been able to say no to the 10th shot of tequila.

I also know that no one should sit down and put money on the table they can't afford to lose. As an adult, Jack shouldn't miss the $800 he threw away.

I also know, I don't really want anyone policing how much I drink or gamble.

But what if I crossed the line? What if my judgment was clouded by too much liquor?

Does the dealer, the cocktail waitress, or the floor have a moral responsibility in this situation?

Would I want someone to intervene? Maybe not in that moment, but surely the morning after, right?

Does the dealer, the cocktail waitress, or the floor have a moral responsibility in this situation?

To be clear, I did nothing last night. I noticed when he had one shot too many and I watched his mood and his "luck" change.

Instead of saying something to Jack, I talked to the dealer after the fact. And I do not feel good about that.

The floorperson can't be everywhere, and the dealer may not even be aware that something is amiss in their short time at the table.

I think the next time this happens, I will bring it up to the floor. And I hope other players will do the same, especially if I find myself in Jack's situation.

And to throw another question into the pot, what if the player is extremely inebriated and winning? What then? My editor posed this question to me, and I didn't know how to answer at first.

After giving it some thought, the right thing to do is help someone avoid making bad decisions when they are so impaired they can't make them for themselves. So whether they are winning or losing shouldn't really matter.

You might be sad to see some potential EV go home but just think of all the Karma you'll rack up with the poker Gods.

The bottom line is: when we are at a table, we are fighting for each other's chips. But when we step away from the felt, we go back to being upstanding (hopefully) members of society. There's no reason those two paths can't cross, especially when you see someone in a downward spiral.

So, let's have some drinks, play some poker and when enough's enough, let's take the party home. And that's what she said.

That's What She Said: When Enough's Enough 101

Image: Hloom via Flickr / CC BY-SA, 401(K) 2013

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