Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dispute resolution in competitive gaming

In chess tournaments, all players, from tykes who have barely ceased to wear diapers, to seniors who have taken it up again, learn the protocol of quietly stopping the clock and seeking out a director. In bridge tournaments, where the median age is about sixty, an aggrieved player feebly calls out "director" at a volume slightly above the standard hushed table chatter, and helplessly waits for someone to show up. In Magic, the teenage pro screams "JUDGE!" and imperiously waits for his demand to be met. Poker players, generally aged twenty-one and up, tend to have the good fortune of having floor personnel nearby, and can call out for a director or floorman in a reasonable voice and it doesn't take long for disputes to be resolved.

Harbor no illusions, however, about poker players being sensible or having good manners; as a group, the way they play their cards and the decorum with which they address their tablemates should quickly quash any such notion. They produce significantly more cash flow for the hosts of their events than other gamers do, which inclines the staff to be more sensitive to their needs. In this regard, poker sits at an odd threshold between other kinds of gaming and other kinds of gambling. Poker brings casinos negligible profit compared to traditional casino games, but by comparison chess, bridge, and Magic tournaments as capitalistic ventures are a joke for tournament organizers, who tend to be motivated more by the love of the game and the service to their gaming community.

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