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.
Poker has its own little cliques. Think about it. Not only are there poker variants that bring a select group to the tables, there are also limits that segregate the field and force players to play/add a game to the mix if they want a full table. Then there are the whiners and the haters and the players that believe they are great but the deck or dealer is against them, yes, those are cliques too. There are those that are fake-clique players…they pretend to agree with a losing player to make the losing player feel comfortable and keep them at the tables.
My experience with poker players and people in general is that if they badmouth someone when they aren’t present, they do the same to you when you aren’t present. I tend to stay away from those types and certainly am not interested in making a whiner or cry baby feel at home just to keep their chip stack on the table.
Personally, I prefer the players that just come to the table to play and don’t have to bullshit themselves or anyone else on their skill level and bankroll management. They don’t need a clique, they’re a one-man/woman band and know what the game requires if one is to survive the long haul.
One of the biggest cliques to be found in a poker room is a Mixed or Omaha 8 game IMHO. It’s always the same crowd, always irritated, always trying to grind their chips into a day’s pay and keep from grinding their teeth down to the gums. Most poker games only have one table captain but when you hit an Omaha 8 game, you’re facing seven or eight of them. On that note, let’s take off with this little gem I found while looking for something else in the pages of Table Tango.
December 30, 2004: I try to stay away from the $20-40 Omaha 8 or better game, literally, and writing about it is mentally grueling for the most part. It’s like a dead society – a group that gets together to try and beat each other to death, verbally, and with poker chips. On rare occasions there is a flood of new players and the regulars seem to treat them like they are intruders rather than a new avenue of income or someone that should be welcomed into the fold.
Jeff P. – has been on the scene since the beginning of my history with The Mirage. In those days he played $4-8 every day. At one time I thought he had a slight chance at having a personality. Now I find him blending into the draperies and carpeting of Bellagio, nondescript, unhappy, and silent except for his attempts to parry verbal blows weilded by Jay. His focus, at the table, is always on ‘his girls’ (that would be anyone that walked by and looked female) and who’s going for food and what’s on the menu, and his losses.
Most of the dealers can’t stand him because he’s a stiff. When they tell me he never tips them, I laugh and state that I make about $12 a year off of him. That might be high. He’s often expressed to me, away from the game, that he might not tip but he never gives the dealers a bad time. Ok – point?
Double A – a wonderful soul that really would be better off spending his time doing something to replenish his soul…there’s no soul restructuring at the Omaha table. He’s inquisitive, well intentioned, has a heart of gold, and a great sense of humor but he’s struggling with the reality of poker, money, and life…whether he knows it or not.
Jay G. – Intelligent, quick to jump into any conversation and carries on one with himself if no one else bites – he’s ready to launch a verbal rocket at Jeff if Jeff even looks at his chips or cards to call a bet or raise. The funniest part of Jay being at the table is that he’s doing the Dialogue Dance with everyone and most of them don’t even know they’ve been invited off the wall…it goes right over their head. Jeff, however, knows that he’s receiving incoming fire and he tries to fire back with a defense program instead of offense. Hysterical!
Kenny – he’s never happy. I heard him laugh once in the last two years. He could be a real asset to the game and himself, if he climbed out of the death spiral and figured out that poker is a game played with cards, luck is a factor, and you can only conquer the game if you can step away from the picture and assess what’s going on and not let your mind show you the Twilight Zone every time you enter a hand.
Pete – he’s been in the biz a long time…know him since The Mirage days. He’s only in the game on my shift if he’s stuck. He can be pretty harsh if he’s having a bad day but none of that is shoved in my face so I drift through his ups and downs without a lot of swing either way.
These are the five people I would expect to find on any given night in this game. There are a lot of players that have been around for a long time that might show up at any hour of the day or night but these five are the consistent core of this game on my shift.
This game is ‘dealer brutal’. There’s no bright spot, no hope of making a few decent tips out of it, and it’s very demanding as far as dealing it and keeping track of everything that going on. It’s $20-40 with a half kill…jumps to $30-60 and a lot of the regulars never help the dealer, if anything they create more flack than a newcomer with their sarcasm and bad attitudes. It’s like dealing the low end of high limit. Your never making anything out of the down but you’re going to get a lot of attitude and flack.
Most of the time everyone is stone silent, like their guts are trying to push through their breastbone and their eyes are popping out of their heads because they want more hands per hour while they are holding their breath worrying about whether or not they are going to win a pot because the rent was due last month.
This is how some of it goes:
One player that I’ve nicknamed ‘Babalonia’ likes the 2s. She always has attitude. It’s either ‘deal me out’ or she’s trying to jump start her version of what the bet is and who did what…even if they didn’t. Hello confusion! She’s UTG. As I shuffle and deal the first hand, for some reason, Cardz (The Card Fairy’s demonic cousin) was at work and Babalonia’s card flipped off the deck, jumped across the table, and almost landed in her lap.
I was embarrassed and indignant that I’d suffered a mechanical problem and dropped the deck as I stated, “Send them back.”
The cards came in with a lot of flack from Babalonia and the 3s, “Why is it a misdeal?” – “This game is slow enough…”
Another “Why is it a misdeal?” from Babalonia brought this response from me, “I’m embarrassed because the card popped off the deck.”
That didn’t slow her or the 3s down and if he’d thought about dropping it, he wasn’t going to because she fanned the fire, “It’s not a misdeal…”
I already had the deck shuffled and was dealing by now, “I’m one of the slowest dealers in the room…as you’ll see.”
She went on with the rant…into the next hand. I said, “If you want me to call a floor person I will. It is history. Let me know.”
What the hell was a floor person going to do a hand later? Don’t bother answering that one. She took a walk. I wish she’d found the short pier.
She came back right at the end of my down. A new set-up was brought in and when I set the new deck on the table for the incoming dealer, Babalonia whined, “We just used the green deck.”
I was standing up by now, new dealer was in the box, and I turned around and queried, “Really?”
Babalonia said, “You put in the wrong color of deck.”
I did not. She wanted a reason to be unhappy…so be it! I exclaimed, “Damn…another dealer error – maybe I’ll get fired over it!” as I walked off.
That’s Babalonia’s realm…if the correct deck color isn’t put in, the whole damn world is falling apart and life as we know it on this Earth is never going to be the same again. Can you imagine having dinner with this chick? Or doing other things with her? No – No – please don’t try to put pictures in my head!
The post goes on…tomorrow.
In the meantime, let this time be the ‘times of our lives’ – the days that we look back on and remember as being the best of times – bringing in the New Year – Happy 2005 everyone!
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.