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.
I set out in search of posts that had Curtis Bibb in them. There are a number of nights – that felt like they rolled into years — where I sat in the box with him glaring hate-daggers-dipped-in-battery-acid at my head. He drank – a lot – the last few years of his life and one would assume it was because he was dying of cancer but his anger and frustration with poker started long before he became ill. He did tip the floor people really well when he was going comatose from too much alcohol and, of course, that gave him a lot of leeway to be an asshole and get away with it.
As I searched for those posts, I came across snippets of Bibb in them, and, of course, the two that are going up now have other name-brand players in them, like Daniel Negreanu, Lee Salem, Todd Brunson, Shawn Sheikhan, Eli Elezra, and a few others.
Why Curtis Bibb? I suppose the same reason that one day I’ll be putting up old posts about Sam Grizzle and Sam Farha and a few others that were a big part of the daily poker game – not just tournament play but the poker crew that played on a regular basis. There are a lot of players that grace the green felt at Bellagio and other big poker rooms around the world and many of them come to the tables every day and quietly go about the business of poker. But then there are those that add all that color and intense flavor to the drama and high-stakes action and if you’re around the room long enough, you know exactly who they are…especially if you’re a poker dealer.
The reason that drama exists is because some of these players have to make the dealer an important piece in the game — which is ridiculous. If the dealer isn’t making a mistake and is paying attention and doing their job, they have nothing to do with the outcome of the hand.
Let’s get started!
June 22, 2004: A day in poker is like a day that's impossible to describe to anyone that hasn't been there….but I keep trying. Of course I do this because I want to go back and read again and laugh my butt off with, "Oh my God! I forgot about that…" Well some of the instances don't leave me laughing my butt off.
Last week I dealt a $600-$1,200 Mixed Game. The game had just started when I sat down but must have been a Dead Spread all day as there was only $40 in blue chips in the rack. The line up was Shawn, Oscar, and Eli.
I called for a bank increase to be able to break down a $100 or $500 chip if needed. Carmen brought me $500 in $25 chips for the increase.
About ten minutes into my down, Todd arrived and took a seat. Curtis showed up a few minutes later. Renee was ready to play and waiting for Security to 'unlock' his lock box.
About 15 minutes into my down, I called for a fill. It was loud enough that anyone in the room could have heard me as the room was fairly quiet and Rachael (chip runner) acknowledged me from the middle of the low limit section.
Rachael appeared a few minutes later and I counted out the bank for my fill. After she left, Todd asked, "Who called for a fill, Linda?"
"It's a courtesy to keep the rack full and in order for dealers and players."
Todd motioned to the $40 in blue in the rack, "You won't go through that in an hour in this game."
Guess that means that none of the dealers or cocktail waitresses are going to get a tip.
Shawn said it all for me, I didn't have to say a word.
Shawn, "Leave her alone. She's one of the best dealers."
Todd, "I'm trying to make her a better dealer."
Shawn, "Linda, honey, do whatever you want. If you want to stop the game, go ahead, we'll wait."
Several thoughts went through my head with Todd's comments. My being a better dealer by never getting a fill means that I would never stop or slow the game down to get one…the world according to Todd. No one else, in all of my dealing career, has ever bitched because I requested a fill.
What about Renee? As soon as he wins the first pot, he immediately wants $20 or more in blue chips because he does tip.
Am I to do my job based on what one person requires out of the masses that I deal to each year? I think not. If Shawn hadn't said everything for me, I'm not sure I could have held my tongue.
I passed Shawn later in the night, away from the table and thanked him for speaking up on my behalf. He said, "They know…it's just fucking bullshit."
Did he hit the nail on the head or what?
January 5, 2004: Hop in - time to take a cruise through poker land. All of the ballyhoo and shake, rattle, and roll of the last four weeks is gone. There's even room to cruise between the tables without shoving bodies out of the way and you can hear conversation as it's meant to be heard - without screaming.
Table 25 is our first stop; $15-$30 Holdem. Nothing outrageous or noisy here but some jamming going on.
Off to Table 26, $1-$5 7 Card Stud, dead game, live bodies but they were barely breathing.
Table 27, $4-$8 Holdem. Funny game. One youngster that barely appeared to know why he was at the table was on a rush. George, a long time player from the Mirage days was in the 1s and not having a good time - he never is when he's not the one on the rush - and he finally took a walk. Everyone else was glad he did. The youngster racked up and left while George was walking.
Break time and the next game was $4-$8 Holdem on Table 28. They were j-a-m-m-i-n-g to the max.
Table 29 brought another $1-$5 7 Card Stud game…ugh! No fun here. They were more like comatose.
Table 30, $8-$16 Holdem. Joe was in the 5s and pretty much non-stop talk. He can be pretty funny so it wasn't painful. This game was just deal it, get through it, take another break.
Then Table 1 - $200-$400 Mixed Games. Curtis and O'Neal were playing heads-up and Sam G. was sweating Curtis. Curtis was way beyond having too much to drink. He talked up his game and play to Sam and at one point, told Sam he might have to run him off because he wasn't winning since Sam got there. Curtis won every hand except a few Blinds in the Omaha 8 or Better session and we moved into Deuce to Seven.
Curtis never played any of the first seven hands beyond the Blind. On the eighth hand, he raised it, O'Neil called, Curtis drew one and O'Neil drew three.
Curtis bet, O'Neil called, Curtis drew one and O'Neil drew two.
Curtis bet, O'Neil called, Curtis and O'Neil both drew one.
Curtis checked and O'Neil bet.
O'Neil showed Curtis a hand and Curtis had called with an Ace hoping that O'Neil had paired. Curtis started crying, "She never deals me a winner. She hasn't dealt me anything in so long. I always lose when she's dealing…"
Hey - did I say I didn't need ear plugs?
I got pushed, Table 2 was $60-$120 Omaha 8 or Better with a kill. It was easy. No one screamed or cried or threw themselves on the floor or the cards at me, for that matter. I did have one exchange with our new Brush person, Kim, that I didn't really care for. She was a day shift dealer and recently became a full time brush. I have always felt that dealers make better Brush and Floor People because they've been in the trenches and know what it's like - but in this case I'm not sure.
When I sat down, the rack had $40 in Blue chips, $100 in Red, and all the rest were $20 chips…meaning I needed a fill. There were three games running in the Top section and Kim was basically standing around doing nothing. That's fine. But I asked her for a fill and she said she would find someone for me. She left the area, returned and said someone would be there shortly. Another Brush would have just done the fill. At least 10 minutes went by and she had spent most of it sitting at Table 3.
I asked, "Kim, what about this fill?"
She shrugged me off with, "I told them…"
I went with, "You don't do fills?"
She gave me the same routine - she had told someone.
Another 10 minutes went by and I repeated my request to her…now I had $30 in Blue in the rack. She left the area again and came back to tell me, "He will be right here."
Five minutes before I got pushed, Tim came up and did the fill. It took 25 minutes for this to happen and she could have done it in the first five. Ugh! Afraid to work? Hell if I know. It just makes my job so much tougher.
The next game - Table 5 - $30-$60 Holdem. An easy going crowd - not a lot of action - no one was bleeding and the waters were calm.
Cruising on to Table 7. Mixed games, $1,000-$2,000 and $1,500-$3,000. Eli E. - 2s. Chau - 3s. Daniel N. - 5s. Johnny C. - 6s. Gus H. - 7s. Lee S. - 8s.
Lee was drinking and funny. When I sat down, announced, "Time pot," and spread the new deck, he pushed a brandy snifter next to me and asked if I wanted a drink.
I replied, "Yes, I do!"
"Chuckle…chuckle," from the right side of the table.
They rammed and jammed, lots of conversation going on amidst the chips flying into the pot. Lee looked up at the TV and exclaimed, "Look at that girl, she's absolutely beautiful!"
Daniel and Gus both looked up and Lee continued, "I'd give her $400."
Daniel asked, "Is that how you rate them?"
Lee's reply was something like, "Certainly not by their IQ…"
Then, during a Holdem hand, something that I would think anyone that knew how to play poker would have the sense not to do…and know why it shouldn't be done…happened.
Eli E., Daniel, and Lee were in a pre-flop raised hand. Lee had the Button. Lee opened a King before the Flop. I exclaimed, "You're not supposed to show any cards when it's three way action. Heads-up is different!"
Lee never missed a charming beat, "Is this a tournament? Is Jack McClelland here somewhere?"
I said, "You can hurt someone's action by exposing a card."
He continued, "I thought Jack McClelland was at home asleep by now."
Daniel looked almost as if he was going to agree with me but laughed instead.
No one else at the table said a word. I said, "Ok. I won't say another word."
Lee said, "Ok…"
The Flop was 6-6-3. Someone bet, I'm not even sure if it was Lee. Eli and Lee ended up heads-up on the River and both of them checked. Eli showed A-K. Lee told Eli that he won, then exclaimed, "Wait a minute. I shouldn't have said that. I've never even looked at my hand."
He peeled open his down card and it was a 3. He stacked the pot…along with a few apologies and exclamations about the fact that he shouldn't have said Eli won until he'd looked at his cards.
I'm still in awe of the fact that people that play that limit wouldn't understand that exposing a card in multi-way action could cause a problem.
My last game of the night was $80-$160 Hold’em. Deader than a damn doornail. Very few spotty outbursts of action and mainly chop the blinds. Horrible…but the players were 'dealer friendly.'
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.