August 2006
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Big Fun at the Stratosphere (part 2)

With 6 left, 5 of the remaining players wanted to make a deal but the chip leader thought that having about 12 big blinds was plenty to make sure he would take first place and said no. That particular idiot ended up third for a little more than $500, whereas a 5-way chop would have landed him about $650.

After one more player busted there were two large stacks and three that would be forced to move very shortly. Claire suggested a deal with the other two short stacks so that nobody goes home empty handed, basically to split the 3rd and 4th money into three equal prizes for the 3rd to 5th. Floorman Rodney calculated that it would make $228 each leaving the top two prizes unchanged. He yelled “put the cards in the air” and briskly walked off, clearly not caring much for having to work out a deal for such a small amount.

The dealer restarted the game and announced “The next player out gets $228. The player after that gets $228 and the next player gets $228”. Claire busted out the next hand, moving in with a small piece of the flop and getting called by a slightly larger piece. Needing to make 2nd place now to win any more money there was no point hanging about.

Claire wandered over to the floorman to get her winnings, only to be greeted by a bemused look and to be told “we’re paying four spots”. Why? Because one of the players didn’t agree to the deal, he said.

So we went home, empty handed and disappointed.

Like hell we did.

The dealer had announced the deal, and four of the five players and everyone watching thought that this was how the game would being played out. Three players were going to gamble and lose, but still take home more than they bought in for. The other two would probably end up splitting the 1st and 2nd prize money for about $1200 each.

So how did Rodney deal with this situation? His decision, he said, is final. There was no deal. What the dealer says means nothing. You’ve misunderstood and hard luck. Please keep your voice down. There’s nothing more to say. If you want to take it up with someone else…

Yes. We do.

But before that, we sat and tried to calm down a bit. We tried to figure out what actually happened. I remembered thinking that the floorman had walked away rather quickly after he said to restart the tournament, but with the dealer announcing so clearly what the deal structure was I couldn’t see how there was any doubt about the deal. He argued with Claire that a chop is a chop, and if three players agreed on money then they have to drop out of the tournament. Well, I’ve made that kind of deal before. I’ve made it at the Strat, too. Besides, that would be a horrible deal, giving up any chance of the big money in exchange for a share of only the lower prizes. However small your chip stack, you still have equity in the rest of the prize pool.

So did the player that apparently objected – a different player this time – know Rodney? Was there going to be a deal if she was 5th but not otherwise? Well that’s a little paranoid, but it makes you wonder. She didn’t say a word when the dealer announced the deal, but why not? She may actually have said no (even though nobody else heard it) but then decided to keep quiet and let the other players think they had made money and bust each other out whilst she clung on for 2nd or 3rd. Possible, but I don’t even think she had enough chips to be sure of doing that, even if we credit her with the ability to be that deceptive.

We couldn’t figure out why on earth it was being handled this way. We had a floorman who had already failed to communicate with the players and with his dealer, and was now stubbornly waving a “my decision is final” flag without even trying to find out why the dealer and most of the final table players thought the tournament structure had been altered. This man clearly has no people management skills – you’d think there are better career decisions for him than casino floorman.

One of the players made a motion that we should stick around, as if they were going to carve up the money anyway. But it didn’t take long for 4th place to go home, taking the original $171 prize money. He agreed that it was all bullshit, and then promptly left the building. So what do we do? Hang around and wait for a handout? Don’t think so.

The pit boss we approached found it amusing that we were asking to speak to the casino manager. He knew it wasn’t his ass on the line so maybe he just likes to see someone causing trouble. Or maybe he likes to see how people react when they meet shift manager Scott for the first time. Kinda scary, mediterranean looking with a nice bit of bling on his fingers. He’s probably connected, at the very least. And we’re bothering him for what seems like the sake of $200. Hey it’s the damn principle now.

Well we actually got a result pretty quickly, and our car didn’t blow up on the way out. The valet would have been the one getting whacked anyway, not us. Scary Scott spoke to plonker Rodney and to the dealer and the result was that Claire was getting paid the amount the dealer had told her she’d be getting. Scott went back to work, probably looking for cheats to take to a back room, whilst Rodney became very friendly, but still procrastinated and it took a good hour to get paid. He had to bodge it by putting the payout through as a high hand jackpot.

All in all, a ridiculous situation to be in. Claire finished 5th and ended up with a bigger payout than the 4th place finisher, for basically causing enough of a fuss to get paid to shut up and stop wasting the casino management’s time.

Technically it’s +EV but it just shouldn’t have happened.

1 comment to Big Fun at the Stratosphere (part 2)

  • I’ve been back nearly a week now and I’m still upset to have to write this, but it has to be done.The Stratosphere is no longer the place I call home in Las Vegas.  In fact it’s not even anywhere I want to visit again.It’s heartbreaking really.  I’ve st

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