Who’s got the deal?

December 9, 2007

Finally. Finally found a weekend recently to get back to the poker table for a Saturday night home game.

A few people I know from work and a couple of their friends gathered around a table at someone’s crappy apartment, college basketball flickering on a 20” standard definition TV in the corner, beer around the table (cola for me, of course!), and a fresh deck of cards freed from it’s plastic wrapper prison.

All right, I’m all excited. My wife and I have a new baby boy, so it’s been months and months since I’ve had the chance to get in a game of cards at any level. The anticipation runs through me quickly, and triggers the bouncy leg syndrome I tend to get. Must need more Pepsi.

Then something horribly unfortunate and frustrating happens. The guy who breaks out the cards shows his true weakness…he doesn’t know how to shuffle.

Understandably, this might not bother most people. In fact, many poker players probably spend ALL of their time playing split between computer dealers and professional dealers in casinos, so they have no idea the pain involved with watching someone murder a deck between their beer-stained, sausage-sized fingers.

But it bothers me. In fact, when I was in college, I used to keep a deck of cards with me sometimes because shuffling was a therapeutic relaxation technique. I didn’t graduate college with honors, so needless to say I got damn good at shuffling cards.

Still am, I like to think. But back to Sausage Fingers. First, he doesn’t even split the deck in half properly…He’s got about 12 cards in his left hand and 40 in his right. At that point I have to half turn away, it’s almost like watching the torture scenes in Hostel. I think he grabs them backwards and forces them together with his thumbs on top, if that’s even possible.

Nobody else seems to notice, or they’re too drunk to at this point, either way I try to keep my mouth shut since I’m friendly with these guys, but not friends, per se. So I don’t want to be left out of any future games because I was the dude who got pissed about the shuffling. (Nobody wants to be that dude).

But seriously, watching him shuffle was quite a scene. He couldn’t bridge, couldn’t mix, couldn’t even cut properly. It reminded me of the scene in Seinfeld when Kramer is trying to cook dinner for all the Jewish singles. “I can’t slice, I can’t chop…I CAN’T MINCE!”

Funny stuff.

Anyway, the reasons a crappy shuffler gets to me are:

1) You can mark the cards. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it should never happen.

2) It slows the game considerably.

3) A follow-up to #2, if there are others there who can shuffle more quickly, why does the deal have to be passed around?

So, can anyone help me out with #3? If I’m the best, quickest dealer at the table and don’t mind handling the task, what’s the difference if I deal or if the deal gets passed around? If we keep the same rotation of who gets first card and who calls the game, why does it matter who’s tossing out the cards?

It doesn’t…or shouldn’t, at least. An efficient dealer means the game is more organized, there’s less arguing or confusion, and, most importantly, there’s more poker played as a result.

So there….now give me the deck and get the hell out of my way!

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