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Top 10 casino pet peeves

7 May 2018

By Gary Trask
We love when our dealers are smiling.

We love when our dealers are smiling. (photo by Gary Trask)

Time to vent.

After two recent trips to the great cities of Las Vegas and Biloxi, I've logged my fair share of hours in at least 10 different casinos over the last three weeks. No, I'm not complaining. It's what I love to do. But that doesn’t mean there weren't times of distress, not just because my bankroll took a hit, but because of the people I was sometimes surrounded by.

For the most part, I was treated to some talented and charismatic dealers (shout out to Cherish at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino and Diem at Golden Nugget - Biloxi), and I was fortunate enough to meet some dynamic and interesting people simply by striking up a conversation. Conversely, there were a handful of bad dealers that immediately ruined the karma at the table, and some fellow players that need to read some sort of casino etiquette book, pronto.

So, it is those people I'm speaking directly to with my casino pet peeves below. If you have a "favorite" peeve about casinos that I may have missed, drop me a line at and at some point we'll run a Readers' Casino Pet Peeve edition.

10. Grumpy dealers
As our friend Heather Ferris of pointed out recently when she helped us present the Top 10 attributes of a casino dealer, the dealer can control the atmosphere at the table. And if your dealer is unfriendly or simply acts as if he or she doesn't want to be there, it affects everyone else at the table.

"If you're going to be there for eight hours a day, you might as well have some fun with it," Ferris told us.

I can't agree more. If you're not a "people person," don't take a job that requires you to engage with people. If the dealer is smiling and having fun, chances are so will everyone else, and that means the patrons will play longer and, most likely, tip their dealer, no matter if they are winning or losing.

9. Grumpy players
Just like a frosty dealer, an unpleasant fellow player can also suck the life out of the entire table. Look, people, we are in a casino. We're having a few drinks, trying to make some money. Let's have some fun while we’re doing it, even if the cards aren't treating us well and we're losing.

If you don't want to have friendly conversation with the others at the table, that's fine, but don't be rude or unfriendly. Lighten up and enjoy yourself. It's not that difficult.

8. Overly excited players
As much as I like to laugh and converse with others at the table, let's not go overboard. Don't scream "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!" every time you scoop a pot, or win a hand. It's not that clever and everyone has heard it before. Don't talk incessantly to your tablemates, or obnoxiously flirt with the drink servers. Have fun, but keep it in check.

7. Ongoing commentary
In the same vein as No. 8 above, there's nothing worse than playing poker with the guy who thinks he's auditioning to be Norman Chad's replacement. Constant chit-chat about how you should have played that last hand or why I should be playing those sucker side bets at the blackjack table is annoying.

Also, when at the blackjack table, you have to be prepared to run into people who don't follow basic strategy. As painful as it can be to watch the drunk guy hit a 13 when the dealer is showing a six, keep in mind that it's his prerogative to do so and, in the long run, this will help your winning cause as much as it will hurt it. So don't berate this person or constantly complain. Either suck it up and deal with it, or get up and go to another table.

6. Poor hygiene
It can be close quarters if you're at a full blackjack or poker table. If we're going to be sitting that close to each other for multiple hours, please put on some deodorant and don't splash your cigarette ashes all over the table. And if you're going to order food at the poker table, let's try not to make it finger food. Nobody wants your French fry grease on the chips or playing cards.

5. Bad beat stories
It seems to me that bad beat stories are most prevalent at the poker table and in the sportsbook. In fact, this topic ranked No. 3 on our list of the Top 10 sportsbook etiquette mistakes.

Bottom line: Everybody has them, nobody wants to hear them.

If you are not catching good cards at the blackjack table, you should not blame your dealer.

If you are not catching good cards at the blackjack table, you should not blame your dealer. (photo by

I don't care if you just lost a huge pot at the poker table when the guy in Seat #4 hit a runner-runner straight and cracked your pocket kings. It happens. Deal with it internally and move on, for the betterment of yourself and everyone else at the table.

4. Slow play
I'm all for someone taking their time to deliberate a big call at the poker table when there's a big pot in the middle, but please don't sit there and tank when you're under the gun and holding rags. C'mon, man. We're at a $1-$2 table, this isn't Sammy Farha vs. Chris Moneymaker at the 2003 World Series of Poker final table. Keep up with the pace.

3. Mid-shoe entry
There's no rule against mid-shoe entry at a blackjack table, but there is most certainly a certain etiquette to follow. In my mind, you should always ask the players already seated at the table whether or not they mind you jumping into the action right away, or wait until the next shuffle.

I'm guessing most of the time, they will agree to let you in and, in many cases, they will welcome the change of "mojo" if things aren't going great. But you should never simply sit down and toss your cash and player's card into the middle of the table without having the courtesy to check first with everyone else.

2. Not paying attention
This one is dedicated to man wearing the white fedora hat at the poker table during a tournament at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi last week. My table had a nice mix of regular players and tourists. The conversation was congenial, and everyone had the right mindset to make this an enjoyable night.

In comes the man with the bad hat and even worse sunburn, announcing that he's been at the pool all day slamming drinks. But this complaint has nothing to do with this guy's attire or alcohol level. He was actually a decent player (yes, he outlasted me in the tournament) and brought some enthusiasm to the table. The problem was his complete lack of attention before every hand, when he had to be told by the dealer to ante and if he needed to post a blind. When the action came to him, he always had to be told how much the bet was, or if he could just call.

Hey, we all get distracted at the poker table. It's a slow game, and sometimes we get caught looking at the game on TV or chatting with someone at the table. But when you have to be told what you need to be doing on every single hand, it drains the dealer's patience and pisses off everyone at the table. So, try to stay focused. It will benefit everyone around you.

1. Blaming the dealer
It's never fun to go card dead at the poker table, or watch a blackjack dealer squeak out a 21 on a five-card run when you're holding a jack-nine. And it's OK to have fun with the dealer and encourage them to throw you some decent cards. But it’s never cool to chew out the dealer or blame them for your bad fortune. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in the casino.

Trust me on this one, folks. Most dealers would rather see you win than lose. It's better for business because you will tend to play longer if you're winning, and you will be more likely to tip them. And in the rare case that they aren't rooting for you, it's nearly impossible for them to control the deck and deal you bad cards. So, keep it classy when you're losing. Take your medicine like an adult and don't blame everyone else except the guy in the mirror.
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