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.
Perhaps you've always wondered what it would be like to sit in the dealer's box, joyfully grabbing the $100 and $500, and occasional $1,000, tips that poker players toss you when they win a pot and enjoy the respect the poker community shows you because you don a uniform every day and perform magical card tricks at the table where you can decide who is going to win and who is going to lose. WAKE UP! Everything you just read IS an April Fools’ joke!
I admit to laughing a lot when I saw that. I had lunch with friends today, one of them being Sylvia Hart that I dealt poker with for years – clear back to the Mirage Days – and the subject of tipping came up. She said someone told her that they knew the dealers were making at least $400 an hour. I say, “I’m going back to dealing, if I can find that place!”
Back to the early Mirage Days — I dealt a $3-$6 LH game one night with a dealer friend playing the game. There were a couple of strangers in the game that were fun and friendly and we were all chatting it up as the game rocked chips so high they bounced off the chandeliers. They said they’d heard that dealers were making $3,500 to $4,000 a week and they were considering learning how to deal.
My dealer friend and I looked at each other at almost the same instant, and both said, “Sign me up for that job!” That brought a big laugh and we went on to bust their bubble and tell them we made minimum wage per hour and graciously accepted tips from players but the big bucks just aren’t standard daily pay. It was fun! The whole game was in the mood to ramble and gamble.
The following is one of my Table Tango posts that I picked out for this edition of The View from the Box and the funny part is, I did get two Blackbirds in a down on that night (blackbird=$100) and I can tell you from years of experience, that is rare — for any dealer:
December 31, 2003: Another year has drifted off into the time trail. That vast expanse of memories and dreams that float in and out of our conscious, everyday lives, just chalked up another year that we can never relive or claim again. It's the past. Time to move to the future. But before I go, a few things I wanted to write about yesterday but couldn't shift my tired, little brain into gear long enough to make it happen.
I hit Table 1 early in my shift, the night of the 30th. Renee, Celine's hubby, was in the 1s. Phil I. in the 2s. Mike W. in the 3s. Mo in the 4s. Gus H. in the 5s. Chau in the 6s. Eli E. in the 7s. Shaun S. in the 8s. They were playing Mixed games, $1,000-$2,000 limit on some of the games and $1,500-$3,000 limit on others.
This table has the automatic shuffle machine on it and more than once, when I put in the used deck and took out the shuffled deck, the door would stay open and I had to close it manually.
More exasperation than anything else, I exclaimed, "What is going on with this machine? The door won't close!"
Renee replied, "It's the holidays. It's always open for the holidays."
I had a belly laugh over that one.
Gus had two "No Player" buttons. I asked him to turn them in to me. With a cocky little smile, he asked, "Will you just deal?"
I did. He turned them in to me with a $5 chip in the center, like a Red Bird Oreo Cookie. I thanked him and Shaun, one of my favorites - for a lot of reasons, asked, "Is that all you're giving her for New Years?"
Gus gave him a little jab with, "I never see you tip anyone."
Shaun pushed on, "Will you match what I give her?"
Gus persisted, "You never tip anyone."
I thought about jumping in here and defending Shaun because he's one of the best…for me anyway…in the high limit, but I decided silence would bode the best result.
Shaun never gave an inch. "Will you match what I give her?"
Gus gave a nonchalant shrug and replied, "Do whatever you want."
At the end of my down, with the new dealer standing behind me, Shaun said to Gus, "Give me $100."
Gus asked, "What for?"
For Linda. For New Years."
Shaun threw out a black chip and so did Gus. I did the open mouthed, thank you, do you need your windows washed type of thing. That was $200 big ones for me.
Gus was so funny. He said, "I want you to tell me if he asks you for it back later, because I'm going to punch him in the mouth if he does."
I couldn't help but laugh. But seriously, Shaun is very good to me and he is the most generous of all the high limit players. Most of them behave as if they're giving you a kidney when they throw you $2 or $3 as you leave the box or if you pushed them quadrillion dollars during the down. No, I don't believe a player has to tip for any reason. But at times it seems ridiculous that I can deal the game, to the same players, day after day, without a mistake, giving them quality service and they never even think of throwing me $5 when they win a pot upwards of $20,000 or even higher.
Silent Bob. That should say it all but there's a lot more. He normally plays $30-$60 Holdem but upon rare occasion ventures into another game and limit. His name is Jim. He rarely closes his mouth when he plays…that would be as in being quiet and in stopping the flow of alcohol and cigarettes into his body. Personally, I find him to be quite entertaining and funny but I'm not in a game with him and I don't take him with me when I leave the casino. Enough said from my point of view. He's won several major tournaments and is generally known around the poker circuit.
When I hit Table 8, he was in the 9s. It was $80-$160 Holdem and he was jabbering up a storm. The first thing he did was state that he'd killed his wife. The conversation was directed at me and I retorted something like, "Really?"
He went on to explain that she was ok but he couldn't stand her any more so he just killed her. Maybe you have to be a little twisted here to get into the humor of the situation and I am…so I listened while he rattled. I dealt the first hand and he stopped the whole game as he kept rambling; everyone was waiting for him to act on his hand.
After the first few hands, several players complained the he was talking too much. At this point I said, "I see you've met Silent Bob."
A few minutes later, with complaints ringing in his ears, Silent Bob took a small piece of paper and wrote '12:05 - 1 hour' on it. He was going to be silent for one hour.
One player left and seat changes took place. Bob moved to the 3s. He took a missed blind button and left the table. When he returned, Doodle - in the 4s - asked what Silent's name really was. The 1s replied that it was John.
Doodle asked me and I mouthed, "Jim!"
Doodle said he'd bet a stack that it was Jim, the 1s argued that it was John. It went on and on. Silent Bob wrote on the bottom of his small piece of paper, "You're fucking idiots!"
Hysterical. The paper got passed around the table. When anyone asked him a question in the game, he would do charades but never said a word.
Silent Bob handed me a message written on a keno ticket. It read:
"NO KENO :-) *I* am the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only person in the history of the world to win WSOP and WCOOP same year (2003) ?????"
An hour later, while I was dealing a friendly little $4-$8 Holdem game, he leaned over the 6s, which was empty, stared at me and asked, "Is there anyone you'd like me to hit in the face right now? I'm really in the mood."
I laughed and said, "No. Not right now. Maybe later."
What the hell is going on? Nothing. He's just like that!
Who is Silent Bob? Jim Meehan! A true cha-rac-ter in the grand game of poker!
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.