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.
Recently the old poker days have been shaking the dust out of my head and bringing back flashes of my early days of playing and dealing. The players that filled the seats back then were schooled in a different era of poker. Some of those same players fill seats now but the whole landscape has changed for most of them, they are constantly facing the challenge of a younger generation that’s schooled through the internet — play a million or so hands in a heartbeat and share strategy and information in close to the same time frame — and everything is wide open to the world through social media.
It used to be that very few really had privileged information of what went on or happened in certain poker circles, including wins and losses, loans, staking, bad floor decisions, and much more. Now the whole world has access to some of the antics and insanity of high limit poker but don’t think everything that is out of the ordinary happens in only high limit, it doesn’t. It’s going on all around you when you take a seat in any poker room that has more than one table.
And that brings me to the post going up today. The long run of poker keeps bringing the Grizzles and the Wallys back to the table, they are from the old school and life in the new one may be a struggle for them but I only have information on the old one.
Sam has been a part of my poker history since The Mirage days. He was always hateful, supposedly the best player in the world (not sure why he’s always borrowing or being staked or sitting on the rail if that’s the case), never polite or filled with words of encouragement or praise, but sometimes ridiculously funny. The last two-three years I dealt to him I laughed out loud more than once over his lunatic antics.
Grizzle wasn’t allowed to play at Bellagio when we first opened. He got into a fist fight or shoving contest at The Mirage with David Grey (I think it was, I wasn’t there when it happened) and Sam was 86’d. I have no idea how it started or what the result was – like black eye, torn fingernail, ripped shirt, etc.
Grizzle is the only player I ever let (knowingly) put too much money into the pot. Perhaps I should have told him, but who can get in a word when Sam is doing his best to prove that everyone around him is an idiot and we need to be force-fed just to survive. That game in particular, he was playing heads-up at The Mirage with Jimmy Warren, half Limit Hold’em ($400-800) and half 7 Card Stud ($300-600).
It was a mixed-game in a line-up of brutal high limit games and as I tapped out the dealer and prepared to change the deck and scramble it up, scan the rack to make sure it had the correct amount of money in it, not look at either player because God forbid you would even let your gaze drop on one of them in those days and they should happen to look up at you looking at them, the whole frigging earth might crack open and swallow the whole damn poker room, Sam was fired up and ready.
I said, “Time pot,” so the boys would know that time was being taken out of the pot.
“You can’t just shut up and deal, can you? You won’t make it through this game without opening your mouth, will you? Just shut up and deal the cards!”
My first hand was the last hand of Stud and the next game would be Hold’em. Warren was the bring-in and Sam completed it to $400. If you’re paying attention, he should’ve completed it to $300. For some reason…perhaps he started rolled up…Warren called it instead of mentioning that it was the wrong amount.
On fourth street, Sam was high and bet $400, Warren called, and on fifth street, Warren was high and bet $800, Sam folded. He put $200 too much into the pot and normally I would’ve said something but I had had it with his snotty bullshit. I suppose the only way the error would have had any clout was to tell him about it at another point in time but I never did. I somehow felt smugly vindicated by doing that.
Grizzle punished me a few million times from the player’s seat and I finally learned to just laugh it off but I can’t tell you how happy I am that I haven’t seen his face in a number of years.
3/22/02 - A few nights ago, I dealt heads up Razz to Joel and Sam G. (Yes, Sam is in a few other posts in 2001). Sam plays all games but the only game I've ever seen Joel play is $60-$120 and higher Hold’em.
They played for about 10 minutes when Sam told me that I didn't have to announce the high card, (which brings in the bet in Razz for all of you that aren't Razz players), and I said, "OK."
He then went into, "Any idiot can figure out that there's only two of us playing and we don't need to be told who is high."
Me, "Sam, I'm just doing my job. If you don't want me to announce it, fine."
All of my comments to him were calm, light reply...no sarcasm, hostility, or anger.
Sam, "Then we don't need to hear you keep carrying on about it."
Right then Joel interjected before Sam could say another word. Joel told Sam to stop harassing the dealer...that game in particular, being played heads up was one of the worst in the room to deal. Those were Joel's words, not mine...but he's right.
Sam went into, "If you think that's harassing the dealer, blah, blah, blah."
Joel told him flat out to just leave it alone because the dealer had already said, "OK." and he didn't need to continue.
Sam got up, grabbed his cigar and said he would quit. Joel told him to go ahead. Sam went out to the Sports Book to smoke and I thanked Joel.
It's ridiculous when you've already agreed with a player and said you would acquiesce but then to have them try to push your buttons on top of it...his mother must not have slapped him enough.
Time for a little Wally story...one of my first encounters with Wally was at the Mirage about four years after opening. He was in the 10 seat in a $10-$20 Hold’em game and losing. He called me a F__king Dealer. I told him not to call me names. He said he could call me anything he wanted. I told him that if he opened his mouth again, I would call the floor man.
He left the game while I finished my down. He played mostly $3-$6 after that and whenever I would come into a game, he'd pout and announce that I was to deal him out.
About three months later, I sat down in the game he was in and he was drinking...he said he thought he owed me an apology and we got along well after that. One night he was drinking again and he asked if I wanted to go to breakfast after I got off work, I said, "No. But I'd like to go for a jog. Let's go out and run a few miles." He almost died laughing...asked me if I was trying to kill him.
When he gets on a bad run, he's snarly and hard to deal to...all the dealers know it. Word was that he was playing at one of the Station Casinos about four years ago and got mad at a dealer because he lost a pot. He told the dealer to give back all the tokes that Wally had ever given him.
The dealer said, "OK!" and threw Wally $.50. It might be true.
Anyway he will be fine for a while and then he goes into PMS mode or something. A few weeks ago, he was friendly...asked me about my son Dan that used to deal at the Mirage. Then last week, he lost one hand and proceeded to fold out of turn three hands in a row. When I asked him to wait, he went into, "She must be having a full moon!"
I couldn't help but LOL, it was so ridiculous. I wanted to ask him if 'Wally needed a W-A-A-A-A-M-B-U-L-A-N-C-E', but I knew it wouldn't go over well so I refrained.
Tonight I dealt to him and he held Q-Q. When the flop was an Ace, he still chased and was mad when the guy showed him an Ace. A little later, he got Q-Q beat by a set of Jacks and he threw the cards into my shoulder...he was in the 9 seat. One of them went on the floor, one of them fell into the rack. I never said a word. I just sat completely still for at least 30 seconds and looked at the card in the rack. I finally yelled, "Card down, table 20."
Sorry kids, but that's the policy. I'm not picking up a card that a player threw.
Frank R., a wonderful man that's in his 70's was in the 10 seat, he said, "I'll get it."
He did. But I'll be damned if Wally didn't just sit there like a big toad and let Frank get it.
I stopped the whole game and counted down the deck...yes, kids...that's also the policy.
Wally behaved after that because he knew the thin ice had dangerous holes in it.
I went to Suzie L., supervisor, and reported him on my break. Not because I'm trying to get him in trouble...because she'll tell him to settle down or take a break and he always settles down. If I wanted to get him in trouble, I'd have called a floor person when he threw the cards at me...yes, he meant to hit me.
Strange how frustrating poker is and how bad we make ourselves look when we're playing, eh? Good job, Wally! You look really bad.
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.