When you play in a live poker tournament, you have to expect some of your table neighbors will get on your nerves or otherwise be distracting at times. Perhaps someone is in need of a shower. Maybe one of the regs is a boor. Whatever it is, you usually grin and bear it, hoping to take their money. What you do not expect is for the dealer to be the one who is a distraction. Such was the case this past weekend at the Battle of Malta poker festival when the all-male dealer crew went topless for the Ladies Event.
According to reports on poker forums, showing skin was not optional for the dealers. Any dealer who wanted to work the tournament had to go without a shirt. They were paid extra money for it, but that does not mitigate the fact that dealer who normally would have expected to work that day were unable to just because they did not want to be half naked at their job. Additionally, no women were able to work that today because of the required attire.
And the extra payment was obnoxious, as well. The men received €100 total: €50 for going shirtless and another €50 for dancing on a stage before the tournament. Really? There were dealers who headed off to work that day not realizing they were going to be converted into Chippendales dancers.
It had to have been extremely uncomfortable for many of the dealers, particular for ones who didn’t have the most muscular of physiques (I know I would have been one of those “dad bod” guys).
The female tournament participants did not sound happy with the situation, either, according to social media reports. They were there to play poker and have a good time with their fellow women, not to be embarrassed to look up from their cards.
One player, Daiva Byrne, posted a picture of her table on Twitter, saying, “I’m not really sure how @CM_Poker @BattleOfMalta think this is an acceptable gimmick for a ladies event. I, like most of the ladies here find this demeaning for both the players and the dealers!”
Many women followed up, agreeing with Byrne. Dara O’Kearney said that of the “best top professional English dealers” was taken off of the event for refusing to go along with the (lack of) dress code.
Katies Swift said she would have been especially uncomfortable playing if she was in either Seat 1 or Seat 10, the two on either side of the dealer.
Fortunately, tournament organizers listened to the complaints and quickly fixed the situation. The dealers were fully clothed after the first break and a few female dealers were added.
Tournament organizers later issued a public apology, saying, part, “Our intention at the Battle of Malta is to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere for everyone at all times during the festival. We respect all our players and staff and certainly had no intention of upsetting anyone, or making anyone feel uncomfortable.”