Revisionist History in the Making

Minor Overlap

I have particularly loose reasoning for why I am friends with the people I’m friends with, or people I’m not friends with (which are mostly everyone). I try to be nice to everybody I come in contact with, and to a large degree I’m successful at it. It doesn’t require much effort to be friendly.

So when I don’t receive that same love in return, or at least the same effort for such casual niceties, I take it personally and tend to shut that person out for the remainder of time.

There are Bernie Sanders supporters I’m not fond of and Donald Trump supports I thoroughly enjoy. There are Texas Rangers fans I dislike and Los Angeles Angels fans I’d rather talk baseball with. If there is a carbon copy of me in existence and we came in contact — even if we saw eye-to-eye socially, politically, spiritually, and with sports — there’s still only a 50% chance I would like the guy. And logically that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Gambling

As a dealer my #1 job is to deal a clean, mistake-free game where I protect the company’s assets (such as the money in the rack in front of me, the cards, etc.). My second responsibility is “good” customer service, being nice, in an effort to make the patron want to come back in the future.

Similar to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, I’ve never compared myself to the very best or the very worst dealers in the casino. I compare myself to the average. If I were to give myself a self-evaluation, I would rate myself well above-average — probably in the 10th- or 5th-percentile — in terms of dealing, and slightly above-average at customer service.

Could be wrong, but based on experience I’d say there’s some correlation between dealing skill and customer service. Some people have to be nicer because they can’t fall back on talent level. Maybe I’m an asshole for saying that.

One item that’s pretty taboo in the industry, from the days I was at dealer school through my brief journey into dealing, is you aren’t supposed to tell any individual player how to play their hand. I’m talking about blackjack specifically.

There are some gamblers who play the same way all the time. A few play flawlessly, but most have some minor quirks. Like maybe they won’t hit 16 under any circumstance; maybe they only double down on 10 and 11 when there’s a bust card showing; who the fuck knows.

I have never prescribed to this idea that the dealer shouldn’t give advice on how to play a specific hand. And this, I assume, is for a couple reasons:

(1) As a gambler, which I still associate myself with more than being a dealer, I know all of the correct moves. There isn’t a blackjack hand that I haven’t seen at least 100 times, and there are mathematical probabilities for each specific combination. If you don’t take my advice, then you are actively choosing to be against math.

(2) If the player does take my advice and they lose, sure, maybe they aren’t happy with me. Maybe they curse at me and decide to leave my table after a couple more hands. But if they win, then my odds of receiving a tip shoot through the roof; the player automatically assumes I have their best interest in mind (which I do, because I want them to win). To me it’s a win-win: If they win the hand, then I come out smelling like roses. If they lose, well, they are expected to lose anyway.

Politics

I wrote about my friend Kevin, whom I work with, about six months ago. He’s a creationist, a climate change denier, an anti-vaxer… pretty much all the things I rail against, he is.

Kevin is 32. He had a heart attack last month and has been out of work for the last six weeks or so.

He’s a floor person, so he’s one of my many bosses. As an employee of the casino Kevin is really fucking good at his job, and the reason he’s not well-liked by 80-plus percent of the people we work with is because he knows he’s really fucking good at his job. It took me a long time before I understood that people aren’t into that.

Still, the day after my inception to the craps table (which was March 13, 2015) — an admittedly traumatic experience — Kevin was the person who came up to me on a dead baccarat game, just to tell me, “For your first day, very well done.”

That stuck with me after all these months, particularly since he was sidelined in the hospital. It isn’t evidence enough to convince anyone that he gets a bad wrap for being arrogant, but from my perspective it matters. I think Kevin is a good person, even in spite of all the crazy, anti-science beliefs he has.

Today we got into an argument about gay people, and the LGBT community. He points to a single issue for the decline of American society: The fact that fewer people are married, that fewer women are home to raise kids, and somewhere in there gay and transgender people are to blame. Along with liberals, for being so tolerant of such lifestyles.

I don’t really know where to begin with this, so I might as well keep it brief: I think he’s wrong. My argument was women are more independent than they’ve ever been before, and that society is better for it. He spins that into the opposite, that the independence of women is to blame for the mess. Like it contributes to more single-parent households. He refers to his wife as “the wife,” which always rubs me the wrong way for some reason.

Anyway, I could write about our differences ad nauseam, because there are few issues we agree on. I argue math and science, and actual data, and he argues the Republican myths.

That isn’t entirely the point, though. I think he’s wrong, and I could link articles from reputable journals to help prove my case. But the fact that he’s wrong isn’t as important as having the conversation. This isn’t the type of person I would ever be able to convince, but I nonetheless appreciate that he isn’t a typical person with crazy ideas who is defensive when challenged. I’ll keep challenging.

Sports

The Rangers are 4-15 over their last 19 games and have lost 8 games on their once-insurmountable division lead. Here’s how it now looks:

1 Texas, 55-42
2 Houston, 52-44 (-2.5)
3 Seattle, 49-47 (-5.5)
4 LAA, 43-53 (-11.5)
5 Oakland, 43-54 (-12)

Baseball is a marathon. 162 games in 180 days.

Once the Rangers were 51-27, and people were anointing them champions of the American League. It only took about 3.5 weeks for them to fall back to earth.

It hasn’t been that long since I wrote that Texas is probably overrated, and I’ve been chronicling all year that it’s only a matter of time until the Astros make their inevitable move up the standings.

Since starting the year 17-28, Houston has gone 35-16 (.686), which I can only assume is the best record in baseball over that time frame. Meanwhile, the Rangers went from having the best record in MLB to this 4-15 (.211) stretch, signaling the last 65 games of the year are going to be a dogfight.

Sports, politics, and gambling, with minor overlap.

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