How to Treat Your Customers

How to Treat Your Customers

There’s a serious difference in the way the poker players and casinos treat their customers. Listed below are just a few that come to mind.

How Casinos Treat VIPs:

1. Chauffeur them to their hotel
2. Pay for their flights
3. Treat them to expensive meals
4. Give them “rake back” with free show tickets
5. Make them feel important
6. Appreciate their playing with lavish comps



How Poker Players Treat VIP’s:

1. Berate them when they play bad
2. Correct their mistakes
3. Make them feel stupid
4. Treat them like an object (ATM machine), instead of a human (successful and interesting)
5. Scorn when they win
6. Make them feel like targets by quitting the game when they leave

Here’s an example:

A fish quits when the game becomes three handed. I later find out that he felt uncomfortable because we were speaking in English, a language he didn’t understand. It must have been easy from our body language that we were on friendly terms.

He didn’t necessarily suspect us of colluding, but likely felt like we were there to take his money. Can you really blame him for quitting?

The poker player should always treat his customers, as a Casino would. Their only goal: make them happy. If a VIP wants to play bigger, you do it. If they ask you to straddle you don’t object. If they want to see your cards, show them. Your goal at the table is not only to keep them playing, but to keep them happy.

You are to provide a good service where they can brag to their friends and feel important. “I play poker in the biggest games at Bellagio because that’s where everyone plays. This one time we had everyone at the table taking shots and making crazy prop bets.” His focus isn’t: “should I have called the river with bottom pair”, but the amazing experience he had. That’s playing winning poker.

Curse Words:

Just like a historian doesn’t share every tidbit of knowledge at a dinner party, you never want to make your customers feel stupid by using a language they don’t understand.

Doing so is the poker equivalent of swearing. While you are playing, these words are not in your vocabulary.

Avoid using them at all costs: Equity, range, three bet, four bet, edge, variance, two plus two, cbet, hand histories, value bet, polarized, meta game and any talk of online poker.

It’s important to note that sharing information goes well beyond discussing hands at the poker table. It just seems to be the quintessential example and where the mistake is most often made. The problem exists everywhere: reports of lucrative games on 2p2, an amazing new poker site or a new epic fish are things that players feel compelled to share. The only result is we cost ourselves money.

Dicussing Strategy:

If I’m asked directly about a hand, of course saying something like, “I’m not telling you because I don’t want you to know how I think,” is not just unacceptable, but rude.  If it’s the fish who is directing the conversation, I never diffuse it. To the contrary, I offer my two cents and cater it to the level to which they understand. I’m not a fan of lying to them, but that doesn’t mean I have to be ruthlessly honest. Instead, I like giving light suggestions. “You can always just call and see a flop” or if I agree with their play: “I’d recommend hitting your draw next time.”

It does nobody any good to boast your intelligence with something like: “The equity of your hand against his range dictates you should call.”  Would Rafael Nadal tell a novice player that he needs to balance his serving position on second serves when he is struggling to hit the ball over the net?

And, similarly, would Rafa tell Federer that he likes when he comes to the net because that’s when he is the most exploitable? Off the court they are friends. On the court, enemies.

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  • Owais Ahmed March 2, 2012 3:12 pm

    I have always said that online poker players need to act like game hosts in the live arena. When you look at the top live players, THAT is one of their best qualities. They make the fish their friends, treat them like one of the boys, and make sure they're having fun in the game.

    I disagree with your point that you MUST straddle if a fish asks you to, or you MUST show your cards if he wants to see them. There are ways to keeping them happy without complying to every requests.

    All in all, never get angry at someone for beating you out of a pot, always be jovial, don't discuss high level strategy and promote a gambling mood at your table.

    Personal story: I was playing in an 8-game tourney, and with one draw left in 2-7 TD, Player A drew 2 and Player B (rich live fish) drew 1. After the last draw, it went check/check, Player A won with a Jack. Player B showed me his hand, K8432, and asked me if I would've stood pat with a Ten. I KNOW that a Pat Jack is a favorite over a ONE card draw (huge fave over a two-card draw), but I squinted a little bit, said, "ummm…thats tricky…its so close but I always like to draw at the better hand."

    • Alec Torelli March 2, 2012 3:50 pm


      Thanks for sharing. It seems like you got it down. You brought up a good point about "MUST" straddling. Perhaps I used the wrong word and if done too often, it could come across like you're trying too hard. Of course, you have to draw the line somewhere. Like you said, the best players are judging each situation independently. It's truly a unique part of the game.

  • mcgavel1 November 25, 2016 9:55 am

    Awesome points, thanks! I’ll keep these things in mind.

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