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.
WHEE! I went to Table Tango looking for one post in particular, and found the following one, so…it’s the fuel that fired up all the little twitches and glitches that used to crank my daily grind into high gear and the topic for today. I’ve held a variety of jobs over the years — legal secretary, cocktail waitress, Sears service clerk, bartender, delicatessen manager, poker room manager, long distance telephone operator – but none that ever even came close to the gauntlet I faced as a poker dealer. And dealing poker and playing it was my gig for most of 35 years. That’s a lot of history!
I could never even begin to explain everything that I see or believe about the game of poker, although I have tried more than once on the pages of Tango. I sometimes find myself still laughing at over how ridiculously absurd someone’s behavior can be over getting a hand beat, and how that behavior would never be tolerated in any other venue. The player would either be on their way out the door, as in 86’d, or someone might just knock them out for bad behavior.
But the live ones are always tolerated and many of the grinders try to pacify them to keep them from heading for the pit or a machine to give away all their money out there where the house stacks it instead of it going to another player that would funnel back into action. Truthfully, I’ve been called a “Mother fucker!” more than once, even by a few of big name players, just because they missed a draw or lost a pot. Not because I made a mistake, or said a word…they simply are losing money and in turn, losing their patience, control, and mind, so someone has to take the blame for it. But just between you and me, I’m not! I never had sex with any mother.
Every now and then, I’ve had one of them apologize to me the next time I saw them but that seldom ever happens, usually they just keep you locked and welded into their sickness and really believe you did it to them so when it happens again, it’s multiplied to the nth. Paul "Eskimo" Clark was never one of my favorite players – and still isn’t. Visiting his Twitter feed is almost too funny (to me anyway) to even paste it here:
gambler, life coach, scorpio, searching for ted binion's hidden gold
Seriously? Life coach? He needs a life before he can coach anyone on living IMHO. If you haven’t figured out by now that he’s one of the ‘Neanderthals’ in the following post, perhaps you will by the time you finish reading it.
July 9, 2003: I'm almost ready to fall into the slime pit and revert to swearing to express myself…almost! I'm surrounded by, and dealing to and with, a couple of Neanderthals…low brain activity type of individuals…as in:
"Do you want coffee?"
Dull light shows in the eyes, "Grunt, Grunt!"
"Would you like sugar in your coffee?"
Head shaking, snuffling sound coming from the nose and throat, "Grunt!"
It's a good thing their skull is solid or what little brain they have would've dehydrated in the Vegas heat because they aren't smart enough to get out of it and into the shade and hydrate themselves.
One of them is Dim Wad (mentioned in posts of old). Of course, I had to deal to him tonight. It's like Murphy's Law. He just shows up to play in the game I'm going to deal. After he's called me a 'fucking bitch', I have to be courteous to him because he's a customer. I was. I'd much rather have hit him in the throat with a chair but I realize that he is good for the game. He did not get out of line with me, and he stared at the table top a lot, except when he was looking over his shoulders for those demons that follow him everywhere and are trying to sneak up on him.
The other one is Eskimo. He's mainly a tournament player and finishes in the money quite often, along with locking up first place in numerous events over the years. He's always pieced out so when he wins a tournament, he has very little left over for himself, and he's the 'live one' in a Ring Game. Nope…I'm not making this up, it's common knowledge. When he's 'flush' we're dealing to him in live action.
He's never good to the dealer, or even treats us like we know what we're doing…actually he treats us like this is our first day on the planet and we have to be told when to inhale and exhale. Scary, Neanderthal telling the rest of the world what to do and when to do it!
I slipped into Table 1 about 2 a.m. The game was $300-$600 Mixed. Line-up? Jimmy G. - 1s, Yen - 2s, Eskimo, taking up the 3 and 4s, Brian N. - 5s, Jim - 6s, O'Neil - 8s.
The Shuffle Master was up and running. I dealt the last hand of Omaha 8 or Better and it was a Time Pot. That was over with and out of the way. Move into Holdem. Blinds decided to chop. The Shuffle Master takes about 45 seconds to complete its shuffle and I did a quick scramble, shuffled up and dealt the next hand.
Brian looked up from his trip through the black hole of 'I'm stuck and I hate being here' and asked, "Is the machine not working?"
Me, "Yes. It's just that when you chop, I can shuffle and deal the next hand faster than it takes for it to shuffle and since you're paying time, I thought you wanted as many hands as you can get."
Believe me, most players insist on it in the high limit games.
Eskimo may have grunted first, but his final was, "I want the machine to shuffle."
Me, "You want to wait until it completes?"
Eskimo, another grunt, "Yeah, just wait."
Eskimo, "Give me an out button."
It was his blind next, not an out button thing but a missed blind button thing. Not to worry, he repeated it, as if my ears didn't work and unless he drilled it into my head, I wouldn't get it.
He walked. I asked the rest of the players if they wanted me to shuffle if it was faster than waiting for the machine and they said, 'yes'. When Eskimo was there, we would wait. Ok, Boys and Girls, who's the live one here…quick, you only have a few seconds to answer this!
Eskimo returned on the Razz segment. One hand in particular, Yen had a deuce as his Door Card and raised it to $300. Eskimo had an 8 showing and called.
Fourth street gave Yen a 4 and Eskimo a Jack. Yen bet $300 and Eskimo called. Fifth street gave Yen a 5 and Eskimo a Queen. Yen bet $600 and Eskimo called. On 6th Street, Yen caught a 7 and Eskimo a King. Eskimo decided to give it up.
They were heads up and it's hard for me to believe that Eskimo could continue with that hand after Fourth street but he did. He showed 4-5 in the hole as he started behaving like the Neanderthal that started a fire from sparking rocks together and someone peed on it and put it out. He was whining…playing bad and whining about it!
Steve, a player from the old Mirage days and frequent visitor to our room over the last year, came in and everyone was moved over to accommodate him. Did I forget to mention that Sam G. was hovering like a locust, trying to sit next to anyone that would tolerate him, doing what he does best…rail birding…he's the greatest player in the world but he can't get a buy-in.
Steve knows a live-one when he sees one and he jumped right into the seat on Eskimo's left. In the meantime, Eskimo insisted that I scramble the deck each time before I put it into the Shuffle Master, at about the same time that O'Neil kept calling the bet with a $5,000 chip and I had to mark up what he owed the pot next to the Big Chip, while Brian flipped his cards in so part of them were exposed and I turned them up with the statement, "These cards are exposed."
And at the same time, Eskimo demanded that I pull the bets into the pot…I said, "I will. I can only do one thing at a time."
Steve gave him a little, "She's doing ok, she knows what she's doing."
But I can guarantee you it wasn't a pat on my back, it was a form of pacifying the live one…reassuring him that everything was ok.
Now we take a short break to cut to a conversation earlier in the evening that took place in a $15-$30 Holdem game.
My son, Dan, was playing in this game and many people remember him from the Gold Coast and The Mirage, where he dealt for a period of years. He's a great dealer, fast, runs the game, knows what's going on all the time and never gives anyone any flack…why did he quit? BURN OUT with players that can never figure it out. The conversation went like this:
Terry, female, plays $15-$30 and $30-$60 Holdem, upon occasion $60-$120 and $80-$160. Max, a dealer and player, that used to work at Bellagio walked by and said hello to Terry.
After he walked away, she asked me, "What happened? Doesn't he still work here?"
"Nope, he quit! Went to the Mirage."
"He was sick of dealing high limit."
"Well I play $80, I don't see players giving dealers that much heat."
Dan, "She's talking high limit."
Me, "You have no idea what it's like when a player starts swearing at you, glaring at you and fidgeting with his cards. It gets old."
Terry, "I don't know that that happens."
Me, "I can guarantee you that the majority of the world is not aware of what's happening right around them, and very few players are ever aware of what's happening right next to them in a game."
Dan, "She's right. The other players don't know what's happening in the game or if someone's giving the dealer a bad time or even what's being said."
Terry didn't concede that the statements were true but she did say that she'd noticed dealers lately were a little more sensitive than usual and giving some players heat but she thought these players deserved heat anyway and she thought it was funny.
It is true. Lots of players never know when the pot was raised, who raised it, or what's going on around them, including when they've wanted a drink for 20 minutes and the cocktail waitress is in their ear stating, "Drinks!"
It doesn't just happen in low limit, it happens in all limits.
So…the next dealer tapped me out, Eskimo looked at the table top and waved his hand at the empty chair next to him and said, "Get this Mother Fucker out of here!"
As I pulled the deck together, I looked at him and said, "Don't call me names."
Steve jumped right in, "He wasn't talking to you."
As I pushed my chair back and prepared to exit the game, I said, "I've been in this business a long time. I always deal a game to the best of my ability and I really don't appreciate your attitude."
Steve continued with, "You do a great job…he wasn't talking to you."
Again he was patronizing the live one, not giving me a pat on the back, he was trying to get me to leave without causing a scene because Steve doesn't want Eskimo to have to leave for the night.
I turned to the incoming dealer and explained that the deck needed to be scrambled before being put into the Shuffle Master and to wait for the deck to finish shuffling instead of shuffling the next hand.
I wanted to kick Eskimo in the throat, but instead I walked away wondering how many more years I could put up with the Neanderthals.
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.