Sunday, September 24, 2017

I HATE! HATE! HATE! the Meal Button

I was playing poker at Harrah's Joliet yesterday when I was reminded of one of my pet peeves of brick and mortar poker: the meal button. But before discussing this dastardly button, let's look at the whole concept of poker and eating first.

When I play poker in cash games, I almost always  put in long sessions. The best strategy for me is to eat before I play poker. If I am driving a significant distance to the poker room, I'll either get a decent meal before I hop in the car, take some food with me or stop along the way to get some food, usually at a fast food restaurant. Sometimes I might do more that one of these things. When I get to the table, I want food to be the last thing on my mind.

Some poker rooms are set up so that players can eat at the table, thereby not wasting ONE VALUABLE SECOND away from playing! And actually, if one is hygienic about it, this option can work if you are really hungry. I think the smart players sit back from the table for an orbit or two and don't mix the eating with playing -- and handling cards. And eating something that requires a fork or spoon means you, in theory, are keeping nasty germs away from your mouth.

I don't like to think that I am paranoid about this, but we know that poker players are not the most hygienic people. I cannot tell you how many times that I have used the restroom while taking a short break and have seen way too many poker players return to the poker room WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS! Yes, just what I would be looking to do -- touch some cards that have microscopic remnants from some guy's butthole or schlong. Yecch!

I sometimes see people eating at the table touching sandwiches, french fries, etc and then touching cards. Ummm ... no thank you!

Butt (ha ha!) back to the main gripe of this post. Harrah's Joliet has a meal button that can be used, which is common in some poker rooms. I believe at Harrah's that players can use the button to be gone up to 45 minutes. I've seen some rooms use one for as short as 30 minutes and as long as one hour.

In my mind, if you are going to be gone 45-60 minutes, why not just cash out and come back after eating? In the meantime while you are gone, the blinds come around faster and the pots likely have less money. If one or two people take a bathroom or smoke break, suddenly the table is now seriously less than capacity. And if the table is so juicy that you don't want to leave, why go away to eat? On my last trip to Las Vegas, I was playing at Aria and getting ready to order a comped meal courtesy of Mr Subliminal when a guy came to the table and began spewing money. I not only needed to eat, but I really had to pee, but there was no way I was leaving that table anytime soon!

Yesterday, however, the meal button led to the most selfish and disrespectful way some poker players act. A guy named "Marcus" had apparently played at another cash table for an hour or more and wanted to be moved to our table. I am guessing that he has just busted. He set one redbird down and took off. He didn't even bring any chips with him or buy in at the table. Other players in the room said that he gets his butt kissed because of his status (Diamond or Seven Star?). The brush was actually called a couple times, but he asserted that Marcus had already played an hour and was eligible to use the meal button.

I'm guessing that you know how this story ends. Marcus was gone for about an hour, returned, picked up his redbird, and asked to be seated at a different table. The guy next to me predicted things would go down exactly that way. He has seen Marcus to this several times before. So Marcus blocked a wait list player from being seated, kept the table short handed for an hour, and didn't even attempt to play one hand at the table.

I've had other times when people were gone for long periods, played an orbit or two and then left, but don't recall having a player not play any hands at all and then move to another table. Of course, everyone was muttering unpleasantries under their breath yesterday. So yes -- I really do HATE HATE HATE that button!

I do recall that one time I played somewhere (maybe Harrah's Southern Indiana?) that used plexiglass little tables that would go over the chips so that someone could play "over" the space of someone on a meal break. That was an interesting experience.

btw - This is a lightning36 version of a mini-rant. I know that some players like to rant when their diet sodas are taken away prematurely, but ...

Thanks for reading!


Blogger Jilly said...

Well said. I abhor the any break (orbit+) a player takes that consumes a seat at the table.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous KenP said...

Well, we all have our quirks -- including pop desecration.

I'd don't think I would have remained silent though and I certainly would have talked to the manager about it. It would have been an ideal time with others recognizing his tendencies and back up its reoccurring nature.

Seems the easy way to handle it would be to give the diner a line cut when he returned. They'd get the next open seat.

12:30 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@KenP: I was just the visitor to the poker room and couldn't see being the one making a fuss. I like your suggestion, though. At Harrah's properties, they move diamond card holders to the top of the list anyway, so his wait generally whouldn't have been long anyway.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

So Marcus blocked a wait list player from being seated, kept the table short handed for an hour, and didn't even attempt to play one hand at the table.

Is asshole spelled one word or two?

5:22 PM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

Mojo, I believe it's spelled M-A-R-C-U-S. At the Hard Rock in Tampa, when you take a meal break they give you a slip and when you come back, you're installed number one on the list. You have to ask for it but it's a convenient way not to leave tables short for an hour

6:44 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I've never seen a "Meal button" in a room but the amount of time they allow players to be away from the table is way beyond excessive. Anything longer than it takes to go the bathroom is too much.

I've seen guys do what this guy did and I hope there's a special room in hell--the place for those who misbehave in hell--for them.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Koala said...

I actually saw a guy do something similar when I was playing at the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas. He sat down just after the button had passed him and was dealt in for the next couple of hands. As soon as the BB got to him he said he was going for a meal, got up and left for about 40 minutes. When he came back he picked up his chips and left. Probably the rudest and most disrespectful thing I have ever seen a poker player do in my life. I believe that players going for a meal should have to cash out, and then be put on top of the list when they return. Nothing worse than playing at a table of 5 or 6, because people have gone for a meal, or are playing BJ or slots somewhere else and preventing other people from playing poker.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Iron Mike Sharpe said...

I have no problem with it if they only let one player take a dinner break at a time. Obviously, don't take a dinner break and then rack up when you get back. If there is only one table of the game I want to play open, then I would not want to go on the wait list.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Lester said...

The icing on the cake here is when one guy takes a meal break and another guy takes a smoke break and then a third guy really, really needs to leave the table to take a piss and the third guy is then told he has to rack his chips if he leaves because he can't leave until one of the first two guys comes back. Called something like the "third man walking" rule or something like that...

10:42 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Lester -- Yes - the Par-A-Dice in East Peoria, IL uses the third man walking rule if there are people waiting. I don't take dinner breaks and don't smoke, yet I've been trapped at the table needing to pee because of this rule. Frustrating sometimes, especially when there is not a restroom that is convenient to the poker room.

10:57 AM  

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