The Pit Meltdown Back-off

The pit meltdown back off

One of the more interesting back-offs I have suffered occurred at a Lake Tahoe property a good many years ago. It was early on a winter Saturday morning, just after breakfast. I was the only player in the pit.

The boss asks for my card as I belly up to the table, but after my refusal seems to take no further interest in me. I buy in for a few hundred and enjoy some initial success. I have been playing double deck, anonymously and heads-up, with an attractive female dealer for about 20 minutes when the count skyrockets. Normally, I refrain from doubling my A9, but on this occasion, I just cannot restrain myself with my two table max bets against the dealer’s six. The dealer expresses surprise and asks me if I am sure that I want to double the 20.

“I came to gamble,” I reply. “Let’s see what happens.” The dealer busts.

All hell breaks loose. The boss who had seemed to so unconcerned with me a few minutes earlier is now standing next to the dealer. He seemed to drop out of the ceiling. He crouches down to bring his eye level even with mine as he delivers his edicts:

No more blackjack, sir! To the dealer, he shrieks, “He’s through, he’s done,” right in her ear.

I quizzically ask, “What do you mean?” The boss spins on his heel, leans over the table and snarls right in my face, “You heard me, smart guy. Get the (expletive deleted) out of here!

Normally, I just grab my checks and hit the door when something like this happens. In this case, however, I am intrigued by the boss’s meltdown and elect to stay a while longer just to see what happens. I push my checks forward for a color-up. The dealer obliges as she begins crying softly.

The boss is now in full tantrum mode. He is furiously writing on the pit card he had started on me. Bearing down with tantrum-enhanced strength as he writes, he breaks the pencil lead.

“Piece of (expletives deleted),” he stammers. He deliberately breaks the pencil in half and throws the pieces at a wastebasket. One of the pieces bounces out and rolls for several feet across the pit. The boss launches into another long string of expletives as he chases down the pencil stub.

I pocket the black chips from the color-up, tip the crying dealer a red, and make my exit toward California. I look back to see the boss in a heavily animated, one-way conversation with the dealer. What a jerk!

I often wonder what it is that causes some casino employees to behave in such a boorish, personal fashion when dealing with card counters and other skilled patrons. Lack of understanding? Direction from above? Fear of being fired for inaction? All of the above? Who knows, but if I were a casino executive, I would not tolerate this boorish behavior from an employee for any reason.

Originally published on Green Chip, edited for this format.

Related article:

"The Cost to Casinos of Their Abuse of Skilled Patrons",, October 18, 2018


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