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Poker News | The View from the Box

The View from the Box – Looking for light at the bottom of Marianas Trench

The View from the Box
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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.

Today’s choice is from Table Tango following the thread on Curtis Bibb – the last two tales from The View from the Box are part of the thread. My feeling on poker is that when you lose your enthusiasm for the game, it’s time to pick up your chips and hit the window, perhaps for a week or three or even a year or whatever it takes to give you the mindset to go back and enjoy the game for what it is…it’s a game.

When people come in to play because they have nowhere else to go, or no social life, or outs that will occupy their time and fill an empty spot in their life, poker is not the answer. Poker should be played for the fun of it and for the social factor and to turn your buy-in into a big cash out, but there is no guarantee and one has to accept all of the game’s facets to truly experience what is really going on at the table. It’s not all about you. It’s a huge melting pot with so many ingredients that it’s hard to even visualize what it takes to bring so many people to the tables – and keep them coming back. But enthusiasm is the key factor.

If you’re jaded, sullen, angry, and ugly inside, the Card Fairy will always take you down a few notches lower than you were when you came in and the cycle will repeat continuously like a broken record until you can no longer look at a pair of Aces without thinking “How am I going to lose this one?”

In following Curtis’ poker path, he ended up at the bottom (yes, as mentioned before, he was seriously, terminally ill when he played the last year or so) but he was on a death spiral with poker long before then. He simply couldn’t step outside of his own black thoughts long enough to salvage the person that he was when he first started playing at The Mirage. And there were those who fed on his bad attitude and losing play and treated him like a little pet monkey to keep him in the game and make him feel justified for being a losing player. One, in the following post, Larry, did just that. Larry used to be the big fish back in The Mirage days but he grew a dorsal fin and patronized Curtis into thinking that he was justified in behaving like an asshole.

I always wanted to puke on the table felt when I sat down in the box and Larry would lay his arm out on the table towards me and pat the felt with his hand, “Big pots, big tips, Linda. Just remember that.”

Yeah, right, Larry. I remember big pots and bullshit and as time went on, you were a complete drag to deal to and there were never any ‘big tips’ so stop kidding yourself because I wasn’t fooled from the very start.

The post that follows was also the same night/early AM after I got off shift that Curtis went into the bathroom and head-butted the maintenance man who told him the restroom was closed.

One of the dealers I know overheard Todd Brunson questioning Curtis on how he got back into the poker room after physically taking down a Bellagio employee. I did not hear this conversation, I’m repeating something someone else told me…yeah…that’s how gossip gets started but I’m pretty positive that that’s how it went down. Curtis paid off the employee. They both laughed about it during the conversation, something like, “yeah, offer them money and anything goes.”

Right…if things had been handled the way they should have been handled when Curtis blasted that glass off the table, he’d have been leaving for the night.

I wrote a report and turned it in to security about the incident.

In some ways, dealer abuse and player attitude towards dealers has improved ten-thousand fold since the days I started dealing big tournaments in Nevada, but in some ways, it’s gotten worse because a floor person has a very hard time kicking someone out of a room when that someone is handing over two or three black-birds ($100 chips) to the floor person and the player knows they’re out of line but they can get away with it for a pay-off. On that note, let’s head for the real story.

November 6, 2002: There are times that I do a self-evaluation and search through my being to see what I am, where I am, what the hell I think I'm doing, and how I got where I am. This search continues for days at times. It's so intense it's like looking for light at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Lately I've found myself quite at peace with me. Well…enter the end of my night…table 1.

I waited for the dealer to finish the hand. Seat 1 - Larry, Seat 3 - Curtis B., Seat 7 - A familiar face but unknown name. Curtis was horribly drunk. His eyes wavered between focus and oblivion and he turned to Carmen and said, "You'd better watch this game because I'm going to have a fucking fit with one of them."

He looked at me.

I said, "No you won't. You've got too much class for that."

He bellowed, "The fuck I do!"

I should just leave it here and let your imagination run with it but I won't. This is fairly long so take a deep breath, get your favorite beverage, and kick back. I'll paint the picture, you watch it unfold.

The games are Omaha 8 or Better, 7 Card Stud, and 7 Card Stud 8 or Better, $400-$800 Limit. Something had happened with the dealer I was pushing, Mary C., but I'm not sure what. Curtis was moaning and telling her how much he 'had been going to give her' type of thing. The 7 Seat said something about her dropping the deck.

The game was Omaha 8 or Better. One hand Larry quartered the 7 Seat. Since their bets were laying in front of them, the 7 Seat cut off half of his bet and pushed it to Larry. The center pot held 2 - $100 Chips. I gave one to Larry for the high and the other one to the 7 Seat because he was left of the Button for the Low Half. Curtis tried to cause a dispute over that, believing that I didn't do it right. Carmen was watching the game and trying to keep it down to a dull roar.

Curtis raised it blind in the Small Blind and got a call from the 7 Seat. Curtis flopped a wheel and the 7 Seat turned a Flush. They split the pot and Curtis had a mini-tiz because he'd flopped the nuts and 'she' put up a spade on the turn so he only got half the pot. Guess who SHE is!

I happened to look up at him as I shuffled and he looked at me with a look of begging hatred, like I was the executioner and I wouldn't answer the phone ringing down the hall, which he knew was his pardon from the governor, and my finger moved maliciously towards the 'switch' that would suck his life away.

The 7 Seat was being a little flirtatious with Carmen and Curtis made several comments about 'how big her ass was'. Carmen took it well and laughingly agreed with him. She's a classic beauty, a regal queen, and handles herself very well. It would take more than this to ruffle her feathers. She left the area to greet Bruce M., Graveyard Supervisor, just coming on shift.

Curtis called Larry and the 7 Seat names, as in like 'stupid cocksuckers' and a few other wonderful, endearing terms. They played the game with him. He went to the bathroom and came back. He split another pot and started making comments about why did he ever tip anyone. It went on incessantly and finally I asked, "Why talk about it?"

I should have/could have just kept my mouth shut but he was really overbearing and out of line. He went off on me. Then Larry agreed with him that I was out of line. I just got lynched without the judge and jury. I wasn't out of line. But they dragged me out of the jail cell when the deputy went to dinner and aghhh…choke…gasp!

Curtis thanked Larry, way too many times, for agreeing with him and then demanded to know what I meant.

I said, "Never mind."

We played through eight hands of 7 Stud 8 or Better and when the game changed, I announced twice that we were playing 7 Card Stud. Marybel came to sit with Curtis. She's his lovely wife. She plays $4-$8 and $8-$16 Holdem and some low limit Stud. She's very quiet and I always enjoy seeing her in a game.

The 3rd or 4th hand of 7 Stud, Curtis ended up with Larry at the River. Larry said, "Two pair." Curtis turned up an 8 low. Marybel whispered to him that it was 7 Card Stud. He backhanded a glass of water across the table and floor - knocking one of the three Game Plaques onto the floor with the sweep of his hand. The glass flew off of the table and hit the credenza and the floor…amazingly, it didn't break.

I yelled for Carmen.

She came up and asked what was going on. Curtis tried to focus on me, slurring out the words, "You tell your side of it and then I'll tell mine."

I did tell Carmen what had happened. I don't have a side. I just deal the cards and run the game.

He really was very intoxicated and I believe that he wasn't really aware of his behavior at this point but it doesn't change the fact that this was a nightmare Down for any dealer. He was out of control and capable of hurting someone.

He said he didn't think he threw the glass and asked me what I thought. I said that the way it appeared to me, he'd hit the glass. He said he didn't think so but maybe I was right.

Carmen started wiping up water with a towel and picked up Game Plaques and arranged them on the table again. Bruce came up and patted Curtis on the shoulder and spoke with him for a moment. I don't even know what was said, too much going on for me to assess all of it and I was NOT HAPPY!

As Bruce walked away, the 7 Seat told Curtis that he was going to have to be more cautious because Curtis could have hit him with the glass. Curtis semi-acknowledged the statement and then told me that he couldn't play with me dealing because he would never tip me again.

He then went on to say that I 'pulled a dirty' on him. I said, "All I said was, why talk about it?"

He said, "No. You said I threw the glass. Do you think I threw it?"

I said, "Yes. It appeared to me that you hit it."

Curtis then turned to Marybel and told her to never tip another dealer in the room.

I got pushed out of the game. I ran, no walking, stumbling, or tripping, to Bruce and Carmen who were standing by the Page Desk. I practically lost it, emotionally irritated to the point that I could barely get a word out without having to stop and take a breath, I told them both that he was completely OUT OF LINE. I interjected my statements with his swearing statements and explained his bad behavior and then turned tail and went to my last down.

I was tight jawed and slipping out of Marianas Trench as I finished my night…wondering why in the hell I'm still dealing with this part of mankind that really gouges a huge hole in the rainbow of life. I don't know the answer so I'll keep looking. It ain't pretty though.

Find more of The View from the Box here.

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) — 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.

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