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Practice Room 107

Preferred Serving Etiquette

When Stationed In A Poolroom

opinion by John Woods


Serious players focus entirely on the shot, game, and match. When at the table any distraction may cause them to miss. Their irritation with themselves at having failed to maintain perfect focus may be transferred to anything or anyone else, such as an alleged bad rail, song on the jukebox, or a too casual server wandering nearby.

For that reason, and because proper service translates into better tips and continued patronage of the House, the following is offered to those who truly care about their income and their job.

1. Never disturb a patron who is “at the table.” Do not, for instance, walk up to a table, lean over in front of a player as they are taking a shot, smile and ask, “Want something?” They may tell you.

It is polite, if previously the patron requested service, to discretely wait for the patron to complete their turn at the table.

2. For your own safety, make sure the patron knows what you are selling. Do not ask, “What can I do for you?” You may find out. A server’s job is to sell what the House is offering, such as great food and beverages.

3. It is not appropriate at any time to approach a patron and interrupt their enjoyment of the hospitality of the House. There is no need to ask a patron if they require service except when they are first welcomed to the House. After initial contact, the server’s job is to wait for the patron’s interest and be there then.

There is no need to walk around the room asking every patron if they are okay. Patrons know it is the server’s job to be there when they are ready, not just when the server is strolling through. Approach the area near a table while attempting to make eye contact. If patrons don’t respond, leave them alone.

4. Avoid when possible crossing the playing areas around and between the tables. If required that a server enter a playing area near a table, the server should assure their approach coincides with a break in play. Servers should stay behind and away during a player’s turn.

5. When walking through the poolroom, do not, ever, stop in front of a player ready to make a shot. Do not even walk in front of them. If a server finds they are unexpectedly walking in front of a player at the table, it is critical the server ignore the player, continue walking without modifying their pace and exit the player’s view.

6. It is never appropriate for a server to appear “in a hurry.” Hurrying suggests the server’s failure to do their job, because the only reason to hurry is if behind and already failing to serve a patron on time. Hurrying will only save a few seconds compared to a routine pace.

Servers prone to hurrying should consider the cost to themselves, (in lost tips), and to the House, for presenting to all the appearance of failure. Hurrying in a poolroom, distracting every patron, is even more revealing and annoying.

7. Be aware of the entire room. When a server enters the poolroom, it is appropriate they continually scan the room to make eye contact with any patron already looking for a server. When a patron appears interested in service acknowledge them with a silent nod or wave.

Once a server is aware of interest in service, it is the server’s job to wait for patrons at the table to indicate readiness to order. Knowing a patron is interested in service is not a license to interrupt play. It is the server’s job to hide and wait.

Servers, like other sales professionals, earn an average commission on every sale. The way to increase the average commission paid on every sale is reduce the number of no commission sales and to increase the frequency of sales with above average commissions. Both require at minimum following the server’s simple rules of poolroom etiquette: 1) slow down, 2) pay attention, 3) stay out of the way, 4) only be there when the patron is ready.

Copyright all by John Woods 2009/10

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