The views expressed here are from an ex-poker dealer that could step back into the box at any point in time — or not! Sometimes funny, sometimes cold and cutting, sometimes just tossing out a little bit of wisdom I learned about myself while pitching tickets and playing poker for over 30 years, this is an ongoing walk-through of what it's like to sit in the poker dealer's chair – the box.
The game of poker – have you ever tried to put the pieces of a puzzle together while the puzzle board continually rotates around you and you try to focus on the pieces suspended in the air, stretching to grab the right one just as it slides out of reach? There is, literally, so much going on that you can’t begin to tap into it.
You thought it was a game of cards? Of course it is – played by people. That’s the kicker.
What drives people to a game of cards played for money in a casino? What keeps them at the table after they take a horrific beat or stack up a monster pot? Can you even begin to take out a yardstick and measure the drama that’s unfolding around you when you sit elbow-to-elbow with someone that has bad breath or super stinky-bod (that could be from taking a bath in their favorite aftershave or cologne, not necessarily BO) or a cold or a non-stop talker or a whiner or a sore loser…or worse yet…a sore winner? That’s not even the tip of the iceberg.
The best part of being a long term poker player is that eventually, after listening to all the stories and soaking up all the erratic energy people give off and paying attention to the lack of order in an orderly game, you’ll come face-to-face with yourself. If you don’t think so, you haven’t sat at the table long enough. All those people that try to beat you out of your chips, are all a piece of the puzzle — you’ll play your best game when you figure out where you fit in.
November 21, 2003. I had the feeling that Andy would be in the room and I would get a chance to visit with him. I had my business card out, with my phone # on the back of it, in my shirt pocket, wanting to hand it to him in the event he would give me a 'poker interview'. My intuition paid off. I crossed his path as he was heading for his room, he was alone and had his baseball cap, upside down, like a bowl, cupped in his hands. He looked horribly dejected and I was sure what was left of his chips from today's play were carried in the cap. Yesterday he needed security to escort him and the 'carrying tray' to the Casino Cage, today he could carry it in his cap. Ugh!
I stopped him as he was oblivious to anyone walking by. He said 'hello' and explained that he'd had one of the worst days ever. I asked him if he would give me a poker interview, not on his wins or losses, but just the general on why he started playing, how he felt about it, etc.
He said he would if he had anything exciting to talk about but he felt that he might never play again. He said Gabe had caught every card he needed, no matter what it was, and beat him up.
I agreed that poker could be pretty brutal and that it was hard to overcome some of mental stress involved in playing.
He agreed and said that he was thinking about giving it up and just going back to banking because that was something he understood.
I pursued the interview, he hemmed and hawed, I followed with, "Not right now then, it's not a good idea!"
He agreed, he took my card and dropped it into his hat. He continued with how badly he'd been beat and he just couldn't believe it.
I told him I was rooting for him. I understood how much the game could affect a person mentally. I then said, "Well give me a hug, I've got to go to work."
He did give me a hug and told me to have a good night.
November 20, 2003. When I came in to work, Andy was playing Gabe Kaplan, heads up. I started on a break and it gave me the perfect opportunity to drift up through the area. Andy had his chips in a plastic, carry tray, and was standing up, talking to the 'corporation' on Table 1. He and Gabe had been playing on Table 7.
Gabe was still seated and had someone, male, sitting behind him. His chips were also racked up in carrying tray. They were waiting for Security to escort them to the cage.
As I approached, Andy turned around, saw me and gave me a big smile and 'hello'. He started to shake my hand but instead gave me a hug. He was jubilant, having fun. He said he didn't see me on his last trip and I replied that he was playing during the day, and I worked at night. He told me that he beat Johnny Chan on that trip. He double exclaimed, "I beat Johnny Chan! Three times! Can you believe it?"
He followed up with the fact that Johnny might not be the same caliber of player as Chip and Doyle.
Johnny walked up just as the last words came out of Andy's mouth. Andy never even slowed down, went right into, "Hi, Johnny, How you doing?"
Johnny mumbled something like 'hello' and went on by.
Andy's hair was short and newly trimmed, I complimented him on the haircut and he said he did it himself with the vacuum...the gizmo that allows you to cut your own hair in an even manner. I laughed and exclaimed, "No way!"
I told him goodbye, had to cut and run for work. "Always nice to see you."
November 5, 03. Andy was in town, playing in the early part of the day. I did not see him. No one had much news on him, I did hear some noise about him playing Johnny Chan and that Johnny had made some idiot comments to him...that came from Sam G., but the rest of the 'corporation' seemed to agree. Andy was reported to have won about $5,000,000.
Check back for more in this continuing thread.
I am soliciting dealers to join me in this great adventure of writing a history of poker from the dealer’s side of the table. A brief sketch of the details are listed in Table Tango, (my blog) in this post, if you would like to find out more information. I would love to share comments from readers but at this time there is no convenient system installed at PokerWorks to handle this. Send me an email – info(at)pokerworks.com — if you want to be one of the contributors to this section, and in the meantime, I’ll work at finding a way to enable a comment section.