Player Beliefs and Cultural Differences
Heather: Hello! Today we have a guest joining us. Hi William!
William: Hello Heather. How are you? Nice to see you again.
Heather: It’s so good to see you again. Now William is a floor supervisor in Canada. Now in fact you are probably going to do a much better job of introducing yourself than I am.
William: So, my name is William. I am a table games floor manager. In one casino in Canada. Located in Vancouver. I have been in the industry for over 13 years. I started in Columbia and then I worked for a cruise ship company for many years. Then I worked in Turonto. Now I am located in Vancouver. I got transferred because of the promotion.
Heather: Okay. Well congratulations on the promotion.
William: Thank you!
Heather: Today we are going to be talking about Player Beliefs and Cultural Differences. I am really excited to talk with you about this because in Las Vegas you see a lot of that. It is one of those topics that is very interesting to me. I love this topic.
William: Yeah. So it is really important that us casino staff members are aware of all these beliefs and little things that can improve the guest experience, or it will make our jobs so much easier. It is important to understand also these different kind of beliefs and traditions. Sometimes those beliefs become traditions. So we are going to talk about Asian culture. There are also a few points that I want to talk about but I am going to start with the Asian culture.
So for example it is believed – I had a conversation with one person, an Asian person, this person told me about no touching their shoulders or upper body because they feel that they are draining the luck from them. That was very particular. Also, I will – when talking to this person, that person told me, “Never carry a book into the pit.” This person is playing. The word for book in their language is very similar to lose.
Heather: Ohhh! So if you bring a book into the pit, it symbolizes losing money.
William: Exactly! It’s like the number four. We know the number four. Why the card tables don’t have the number four?
William: Because it means death in their language.
Heather: So the way that they say number four it sounds similar to death so they associate it to the word death. But it is also interesting because they take four out. So they have an extra space. So we have eight come in and that is one of the luckiest numbers for the Asian culture. You will actually see people fighting to sit on that spot.
William: Yes. And it is very important for supervisors not to – well sometimes you need to pass information but be very tactful and very discrete. Because even when they hear this number it’s like a red flag for them.
Heather: Yeah you don’t want to give an Asian player let’s say a players card that starts with 4-4-4 or something like that. They will go crazy and leave immediately.
William: Exactly. I am going to relay this example especially with the craps table. For example, when you say like seven and they are in the middle of the roll. Yeah you don’t want to do that.
William: People get in their mind that you are the one responsible for that.
Heather: Yep. People get very very upset and then as soon as the seven comes out, you are the reason why that seven just came out.
William: Yes exactly. I was going to talk about the number eight because for them it is prosperity. So for them it’s really good luck. It is important to know these kinds of situations because if you want to avoid the conflicts. Or you just want to be empathetic with this particular player or players. Also, fun fact – well another fact, four and fourteen. Fourteen is also a very bad number. Unlucky. They don’t like fourteen.
Heather: And if you go into the casino you will see on the floors, there is no fourth floor, there is no fortieth floor. Just like there is no 13th floor. They take those floors out.
William: Exactly. And the casino in particular with this kind of a strategy is to show them, like to show empathy and so we can attract more customers. Because there is one casino that has every kind of display number four, or number three. Even that customer will not feel very comfortable in that casino.
Heather: And the whole thing casinos do is to help make customers feel comfortable. That goes to the high vaulted ceilings, to bright lights, to the sweet sounds. They put so much time and money into making the players feel comfortable.
William: Yes. And also I want to approach the supervisors and floor managers, just be very very open and be very detailed when it comes to the casino. If the music is too loud, please just communicate or turn it down a little bit. Or something at the table. Also, I want to tell you that Asian people don't play at a table that is close to a washroom.
Heather: They feel that their money is going down the drain.
William: Exactly! So just watch for this part. This is what I have for the Asian culture.
Heather: Also, I really love the Asian culture. I study it and everything. It is something that I find very fascinating. One of the things that they say about the Lunar New Year, you are not supposed to sweep or vacuum for the first day or so. So if you are in the pit and you have one of the nonelectric vacuums people might see that as unlucky also. Because it is this particular day and you are vacuuming in the middle of the casino.
William: Yes! Yes. And it’s really important to be aware of these situations. Also, because you want to get to know your players. It is important to be aware of this superstition or beliefs, cultural beliefs. In the gaming industry we also have different types of beliefs. I wanted to talk about three particular, with real life examples.
For example a player at the craps table always blows their die.
Heather: That is so unhygienic.
William: I know. Well right now with Covid, yes. Absolutely. Let's talk about before Covid. Let’s go back in time a little bit. A lot of people – I used to – when I was a supervisor, I used to be by the book. Sometimes you need to be a little bit flexible. They don’t blow their dice, for example. They don’t feel lucky. You have to accommodate a little bit. It’s not like you are going to be breaking the rules all of the time.
Heather: No but it’s really a hard balance to have because at the same they are not supposed to be covering the dice or bringing them up above the table. So there are certain policies and procedures for game security and game protection that you will want to follow. But it is a huge balancing act.
William: Yes. It is just to balance and to find the middle point and to see that you are not affecting the game security or the protection of the game – of the table. Also you want to accommodate and be very good with –
William: Good! I was looking for that word.
Heather: Before we move on to the other one. You were talking about blowing on the dice?
Heather: There are so many people where they kiss the dice, or when they are on blackjack they kiss the cut card. This isn’t lucky. This is disgusting because you have seen where people put their hands and where they put the cut card. I am sorry for this but just to give you a really disgusting example. So cover your ears if you don’t want to hear this. I was on blackjack and I had this really disgusting guy, sweaty, gross, smelled nasty. His lucky thing to do with a cut card was put it down his pants.
Heather: Yeah. So we don’t clean anything in the casino. So he played for a little bit. You know cut the card several times and then he left. I was disgusted of course, washing my hands at every break. Then there was this beautiful woman that came up to the table about an hour or two later and her thing was kissing the cut card. I was trying to tell her to please not do this. She got really offended and upset with me because I was taking away her good luck charm. I was trying to tell her it was not a lucky thing.
William: OMG. That’s disgusting. I mean right now with Covid there are certain things that we are not allowing any more. But just find a balance and try to align the cultural beliefs and/or rituals that people have. We are going to talk about the second one, which is like a pendant or the lucky ring or lucky bracelet, or the funny hats, because you know, it’s not always shiny.
Heather: It could be a lego character. We have had that before with one of our guys. He had a little lego character in his chips and it was really lucky for him.
William: Yes. But sometimes they are funny things. They can be funny objects.
Heather: I have a few examples.
William: Please, please tell us.
Heather: Two examples. One guy came up to the table with a dime bag of weed.
Heather: That was his lucky thing. And I am trying to tell him you can’t have that on the table. He said, “No, No it’s lucky.” The second one was a dime bag but this time it was ashes from his father and he had them on the table because he was playing with his dad. So he had them on his chips and next to him. It was just really weird to have someone's ashes on the table like that.
William: Obviously – OMG I can’t imagine. It’s a dead body…well dead person! Sometimes it’s like this kind of fun objects for us is weird and extremely strange to see. For them it is something they believe in or something that an extension of their body when they go to the casino.
Heather: Or it could be their dead father you never know.
Heather: I’m sorry go on to No. 3.
William: No. I am actually thinking the one day, it was like a funny hat. It was like a funny hat and everyone was like, what is going on with this player? It’s not Christmas, it’s not New Years, it’s not Halloween. What’s going on? He keeps bringing this hat everyday. It was his luck. After the manager talked to him and said, “Hey I like your hat.” That is how he approached the conversation. It was basically if he was not wearing that hat, he would not win money. What else?
The third one, if – this one is more related to – well it would be like customer service. So for example in roulette. When a player is playing roulette has a pattern, he knows how to play the chips right or maybe the player will ask the dealer to place their chips just because it means luck. There are certain things that happens on the cruise ships actually. There was a player that was like I don’t want to touch the number. If the dealer bets for me I will win, or something like that. When in Baccarat the dealer is cutting the deck. That is another good example. Or blackjack, for them sometimes we as staff members are a lucky charm. But just be careful because of collision.
Heather: Yeah that is true.
William: Sometimes you need to be – just inform your floor supervisor, what are the request, or what the player is asking for. You as a dealer, will make a decision whether it is convenient, or if it – talking about policies and procedures, if it is allowed to do that. So yes. I don’t know if you have any funny stories?
Heather: I do. I have a couple. So we had one dealer who it was the same thing, it was a player who was like, “Oh this is my lucky dealer.” He would always look for her and he would always play at her table and everything. You know management was like ok, but they would always keep an eye on them. You know he always had to sit on her table. So he one day was having a really big winning streak and started playing with a lot of money. They thought that she was flashing her hold card to him because she was doing the wide swipe and you are not supposed to do the wide swipe. And we don’t know if they were colluding or he was just like taking advantage of her and that is why she was his favorite dealer. You know. So it’s that. It could be that aspect of it as well.
William: Yeah. So that is what I said. Just be careful. Always communicate with your floor manager. The third thing if the player has a really good luck, and it’s – this player is winning, winning and winning, trust me you will have surveillance on you, you will have your shift manager next to you and see what’s going on. Just be very aware of those situations. Like I said we need to find that balance and align everything in a way that we are always being flexible with the player and providing that customer experience.
William: And the same thing protecting us.
Heather: It is really hard to do that, because on one hand you are looking for protecting game security/ table protection, you are looking to protect the game. But on the other hand you don’t know if this is a lucky thing. You don’t know if this is a lucky charm or this is some kind of belief they have. You don’t want to ruin their experience for them and have them not come back. So it is really hard to keep those two balanced.
The second example is we have one player who would only play at a craps table with a certain floor supervisor and we found out later that they were roommates and they were making counterfeit money. He would use the counterfeit money at his roommate's table and the roommate would just accept the money and give him the chips. He would play a few hands and then he would cash out the money to launder. They didn’t know if that was his lucky table or whatever. It wasn’t that, you know it was game security table protection.
William: Sometimes to find a balance – and I am going to give you one example, maybe it will be helpful to maybe understand what is the kind of balance we are looking for. So there is a player and this player wanted to play with just his dealer, or he wants to see a certain supervisor, not at a craps table but maybe at baccarat or any other table. So what I suggest is you are going to talk to this player, “Yeah I am going to give you this dealer, it's your lucky dealer but not all the time. Next time I can give you this other dealer because that is the rotation.” It’s also the way you approach the conversation. That way you kind of find a balance. And that customer will understand that it’s not always you are going to have a certain dealer or a certain supervisor.
Heather: Yes. Another way you can find out is just go up and have a conversation with the player. Ask – don’t question them like the inquisition. They don’t want to feel like they are being interrogated. Go up and be friendly and say, “Oh hey, I see that cool hat. Tell me a little bit about it.” Like just try to start a conversation with them. If they are very open and warm and everything – some players will be very nervous and scared and they will not look at you. They are very shy and will shy away from that. That is the type of suspicious behavior that might alert a floor supervisor too. They will ask themselves, are they trying something? Or are they playing like normal?
William: Exactly. Remember that all the supervisors are there to protect. The first line of management. They are supposed to be trained for game protection. Please no basic strategy. Please, Please, Please! Because when it comes to identity also the cheater, or the advantage player. There is a difference between the two of them. Also the cheater can be an internal member so just be trained and take the necessary training. Casinos please provide the tools necessary materials to be up to date. But also be very open to accept certain cultural beliefs. In that way you will find the balance in both. You are going to deliver a great customer experience, but also at the same time you are protecting our assets in the casino. Right?
Heather: Exactly! Yes.
William: So I don’t know if you have any other questions. That was all my points. Your stories were great.
Heather: Oh thank you!
William: OMG the ashes.
Heather: Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experience. We really do appreciate it. Hope to have you back in the future to share more with us.
William: It is always a pleasure Heather. If you have any questions please contact me. Also if you have any funny stories, things or situations.
Heather: Yes please share.