The phenomena of the games
by Wilson Lim

The phenomena of the games

You could say I am an experienced dealer by now. I will be approaching 7 enjoyable years, full time, at Crown Casino. I currently deal Blackjack, Roulette, Poker and PaiGow with higher duties coding. As the years pass, I could not but help observe certain principles and morals that happen daily on my tables.


The element of surprise. Remember the WOW factor some time ago? Keeping the customers anticipating, guessing and giving them awe when we deliver a new product or service. The surprise element is fascinating. A true poker player is quite unpredictable. He always keeps his opponents guessing. Just when others put a read on him, he surprises them (particularly effective in Draw Poker).

I feel that on top of keeping the staff on their toes, the management (at Crown - or anywhere in the world) may wish to add an element of surprise. This is liken to be a random, regular "jump-start" to jostle and put more adrenalin into staff. Yes, pop-quiz is a good example. Then what? What is the next step?

Making the staff enjoy what they are doing. Yes, as a dealer, if I could manufacture a magic potion and bottle it - mass produce it so that every dealer/staff who drinks it can instantly become self-motivated, enthusiastic and be full of initiative - wouldn't you like to put a price on that?

I have been playing and studying poker seriously for well over 4 years now. If there is one thing I swear by it is this:

Work on my weaknesses.

As a company, it is naturally easier to build strength upon strength. We recognise and nominate "Service Leaders" and have "Crystal Awards" which is excellent and applaudable.

But. Yes, but what about the not so strong performers? Is much being done to address and coach the rest? Some of us are 100m dashers and some are marathon runners. We also need people who can "go the distance" as much as the sprinters. Or do we just treat them like disposable razor blades? The choice is simply the businesses.

In poker, there are numerous styles of play. Ranging from the super aggressive right down to the tight timid image. There are merits in every type of play to suit different circumstances. Staff are like that. Managers are like that. Even business owners are like that. Managerial styles are scaled metaphorically from the aggressive to the passive too.

Pai Gow:
The best games I have dealt are when one of the players bank. The atmosphere is quite different then. The punters do not mind taking or giving money to the casino/house but when one of them actually banks - the rest of them become apprehensive and their attitudes change.

When the player banker wins, the other players get envious (it's always like that in poker too). They stare at the massive amount chips the banker/winner has and covet them. Yum ...

As gaming operators, we understand that it is no different to give or take the money from the house or among themselves as we get the commission regardless. With the proliferation of the internet and the easier access of data, players/patrons nowadays are increasingly becoming more knowledgeable and calculative.

Staff that cannot handle the promotion of their peers will either find a way to deal with it or become victims to disinterest in their roles. Happens all the time. We need to address this issue appropriately or we can leave it to the maturity of time to take its toll.

Edward De Bono, author of lateral thinking, makes it clear that the path is not always upward. It could well be sideways - lateral or even to go around the obstacle. Often, taking a few steps backward and considering other options and strategies available can work wonders. Even inventing a solution does not sound bad too.

Envy is a strong emotion either in Pai Gow or Poker. Envy of the big winner. Another powerful emotion is the tilt or rage when losing with a good hand. The sensation is stirring and gut wrenching.

Tony Robbins (Neuro Linguistic Programming) would recommend channeling this negative energy constructively. Just how do the staff deal with their disappointments? Personally, I would rather fail and make mistakes so I make an effort not to repeat them again. Better still, and less costly, is learning from the failures and mistakes of others. Particularly, the ones who have gone before you and are now your bosses. Such irony. See how they go. They are better, let them prove so.

On the other hand, there is complacency. That's where we need to "jump-start" their dream-like, zombie state into reality and innovation. Staff go into complacency (even Managers after a while when they get too comfortable with their roles) because it is easier. When they don't get involved, there is no real need to shape up, is there? So involve them! Get every tom dick and harry in the organisation to actively participate. Or force them to - make it their job description.

Is there skill in Roulette? Well, that is debatable. Don't ask me - I am only a dealer.

However, even a simple minded person like me can work out when the players are happy and when they are not. Too easy. They are happy when they win and are not when they lose. Very straight forward indeed.

I tease winners and compound their happiness with laughter and light-hearted cheer. With the losers, there are 2 types. Ones who are prepared to lose for the sake of having fun - the recreational losers are easy. The serious or sore losers - well, we just be sensitive and let silence takes its course. The next hand is dealt very quickly.

It is true that for the particular hand involved any card drawn by your neighbour can cost you dearly. But it is usually for that hand even though it is the common source for endless squabbles and dissension.

Every mistake that a staff member makes in the organisation can add up to a big cost factor. Even the directors of the company make mistakes - those are many times more costly. The trick is to work as a team towards mutual gain to achieve business goals.

There are Supervisors and Pit Bosses, even Shift Managers who nit pick. Hey, even surveillance can get a bit "Gung Ho"( "...I'll-like-to-show-you-who-is-boss-around-here..." syndrome) at times. And they are mostly correct with the best of intentions. Procedures are procedures. Nothing wrong with that.

Let's look at the big picture. Striving towards the business goals - making lots of money without jeopardising the integrity of the company. Isn't it similar to winning in Blackjack in the long run with the correct focus and strategy? Works on both sides of the table. Card counter or not.

There is an old chinese saying "... the universe is not out there - it is in you ...". If every working shift of every staff can be a happy, enjoyable, productive and efficient one, wouldn't you like to know what the secret is?

It all boils down to attitude, you would say. True. Attitudes can be corrected, changed, evolved, improved and spread to the adjacent staff member - right within arms' length. Just how do we make this kind of attitude contagious?

Well it only takes a spark to create a formidable bushfire! The spark starts from ourselves with our own individual unique way to express and channel our energy to strive for excellence as a team. Amazing things happen when everyone in the organisation collectively tries a little hard each day.

It is too easy to feel great and motivated when we are in high spirits. Can we do it when we hit the pits? That is the question.

"...Make no way - a way..." the late Bruce Lee (the philosophy of Martial Arts).

I wouldn't be writing this if I wasn't having fun.

Wilson Lim
dealer 13884
Crown Casino Melbourne

Date Posted: 06-May-2002

Wilson Lim
dealer 13884
Crown Casino Melbourne

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