Advice for when hunger strikes during poker game

“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
– Yogi Berra
Food is essential to our lives. We eat to survive.
Playing poker at your favorite casino, after a while, you get hungry. So you ask your dealer to call Food Service.
If you’re lucky (I mean real lucky!), the server arrives with a menu within half an hour. I know one casino where it often takes over an hour. By then your stomach is growling and your attention to the game is not what it should be.
You entertain thoughts of leaving the casino to go to a nearby restaurant. But the casino food is generally good (if you don’t mind it served lukewarm) and the selection is enormous, especially if you like Mexican or Asian food, so you stay on.
Besides, you came to play poker.
Finally (it seems an eternity), the server arrives while you are in the midst of a big hand. You take the menu offered and say, “Please give me a few minutes and come back?” Oops… A few minutes turns out to be half an hour! By now, you have forgotten what you planned to order.
Glancing through the menu, you remember. The server jots down your order, then takes the menu and leaves. Anywhere from one-half to a full hour later, the food arrives. You know it’s healthy to wash your hands before eating, especially after handling the cards and chips. So you excuse yourself from the game and go to the restroom to wash up.
Back at the table, you turn your seat around, with your back to the table and prepare to eat your meal, which has been served on a convenient small table with rollers on the leg bottoms.
As you taste the food, it’s just warm – not hot, the way you enjoy it. Oh well, no big deal. The food is tasty and satisfying.
OK so far, but: We all can tolerate these inconveniences. But recently, one of the casinos I used to frequent (rarely now) has instituted a rule (perhaps other casinos have a similar rule.):
If the blinds pass you, the next time the blinds arrive, if you are not yet in the hand, the dealer will take the blind bet chips (that’s your money!) from your stack and toss them into the pot.
And you are not even participating in that hand!
My mathematically inclined friend did a quick compute for me. Assume it’s a full table of nine and you are out; eight players receive cards. With an average of about 32 hands dealt per hour, each player will be the blind four times an hour.
If your meal takes half an hour to comfortably enjoy, you could miss two blinds and be penalized accordingly. In a short-handed game, the penalty will be even greater.
Alternatively, you could scrunch down your food (not healthy) to avoid the penalty. That gives you about 15 minutes to go to the restroom to wash up and then eat your meal. At a short-handed table, you might have to shove down your food within 10 minutes to avoid being penalized!
Another option I see too often is eating while playing. Now your full attention is not on the game – to your disadvantage. And it’s not healthy! Furthermore, food particles or gravy may get onto the playing cards or chips. Not very appealing to others at the table!
I have seen more than one player eating greasy chicken drumsticks, picking up the drumstick with one hand as he puts it into his mouth. Then he quickly wipes away the grease from his hand – more or less – as he handles his cards and chips. And, I have seen dealers quietly rub the cards against the felt to remove the grease.
What’s your opinion?

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