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.
In another The View from the Box I brought up Chico. I had looked everywhere for a particular post in the pages of Tango and couldn’t find it. *Despair* Then I found the file that was all about the year 2002 hidden away on an external hard drive. And sure enough, I found Mr. Demon Slime himself in the first post of the year.
Many times over the years I’ve noted in conversation and in writing how poker can totally twist and destroy the mind of those that can’t separate their identity from a green felt battlefield and take appropriate measures to still deal out a hand that has life intermingled with the game of cards. Believe me, I understand addiction. I went through my own struggles with quitting cigarettes, with daily wine overpours, with finally getting poker into the space in my life it belonged in rather than letting it fill the whole space that is my life, binge eating (no, not eat everything in sight, but having an interest in a particular food for a while and never wanting to eat anything but that), even exercise (wish I still had the same addiction), and a few others that may deserve honorable mention but they aren’t going to make this page.
It’s easy to understand why and how people get as caught up in poker as they do, what’s not easy to understand is why, if they are having such a horrible time at the tables and hate everyone and everything around them all the while they are at the table, they don’t just push in their cards, cash in their chips and remove themselves from the game of misery they created. I haven’t ran into Chico in at least four years, another forty or so will be about right IMHO. The following is just a small glimpse of the guy that came to Vegas and loved to play…until he became a regular in the game.
The second post from May, is simply too priceless not to post. This guy was so unhappy with everything, he should have read The Melting Pot which I wrote back in 1997. There are a lot of players that should read it - but you should only read it if you want a 'couch session' in poker.
1/1/02 - Chico Baker...in the spotlight for my 1st nasty encounter on New Year's Day. The New Year was 4 hours old and I was dealing shorthanded $15-$30 Hold’em into my 10th hour of the shift. Just before I got pushed, the game next to us broke, sending 4 players to my game. The Brush Person, Nate, told me specifically that all players were from a broken game, except Chico, he would be treated as a new player.
Chico slipped the yellow button in his seat underneath his arm as I shuffled the deck; Nate walked away. As I started to deal, I asked Chico if he would like to post. He stated he was from a broken game. I informed him of Nate's statement. Chico told me he had put up the blind and drawn a card when the game broke. I stopped dealing and called for a decision all the while listening to Chico tell me he was from a broken game, etc.
Let me go back about 12 years to some of my history with Chico. He ruins almost every game he plays in, either by sitting out because he thinks the dealer has a 'hoodoo' on him or by walking. He lobbies all the time. I first saw him playing at the Stardust in $10-$20 Hold’em in 1987...he lived in Florida at the time and came to Vegas on vacation. He says he worked in emergency medical vehicles, (perhaps he was a driver or technician). Man, I hate to think my life depended on him.
When I opened the Mirage in '89, he arrived as a tourist periodically. Once, after I pushed him a huge pot, he gave me a $1 toke and told me he'd give me more but I'd think he was a sucker. I'd have used the term 'generous' vs. 'sucker' but that's the way his Neanderthal mind works.
At some point, he retired and moved to Vegas; he's even married to a cocktail waitress but it would be hard to tell from the way he behaves. He used to invite me to go "burn one" with him and have a glass of wine. Well folks, the bottom line is that I've never 'burned one' and don't want to start now. I don't need drug induced encounters and if I did, it would take something much stronger than that...as in I'd have to be comatose to get next to him.
He's convinced that I am a witch...to which I totally agree with every time he brings it up. He ordered a cup of Demon Slime from the cocktail waitress once when I was dealing and asked what I would like. I just laughed and said, "Make mine green."
I dealt a $20-$40 7 Card Stud game at the Mirage in which Chico and a guy from Florida were playing in...the guy knew Chico and kept razzing him. The guy won a huge pot in which Chico paid him off on the River and the guy threw me a $10 toke along with the statement that it was 'sure fun for the tourists to beat the locals.'
I laughed and said, "Thank you!"
Chico went ballistic...carrying on about stiffing me for the rest of my life until I called the Floor Person. The Floor Person, Walt Steele, told him to put a lid on it or leave the game. Chico never said another word but he gave me 'the look' every time he saw me for the next 6 months.
He never antes until the 3rd time you ask, he never blinds until the 2nd or 3rd time you ask, he always looks like he's going to cry if he loses a hand. If he wins one, he usually wants to be dealt out the next hand...he busts his own rushes!
At Bellagio about a year ago, I was dealing a $8-$16 Hold’em game, Chico was in the game; grim as hell and looking like he needed tissues because the tears would start any moment. I invited a watching tourist into the game. The guy was timid and didn't have any idea what game we were playing or for how much. I told him the limit, sold him his chips, asked him if he'd like to take the $8 Big Blind, he said, "Yes."
I dealt him in and knew just by his reaction that he was lost. I asked him if he'd ever played Hold’em before, he said, "No." When the bet came back to him, he threw his hand away. I asked him if he'd prefer 7 Card Stud, he said, "Yes." I directed him to the Brush Person. He left.
Chico went off on me about how I embarrassed the guy and I shouldn't have said anything to him, etc. I was floored by this attack. I didn't know I was supposed to invite a player in and then make sure they lost all of their money even if they didn't know what they were doing. I thought I was supposed to help my players, new and old, find the game they wanted to play...silly me. Although Chico did apologize the following day, this type of behavior gets old. I'm not at war with the players - I'm doing my job so they can do theirs.
Along with a few million other bad encounters with Chico over the years, I now continue with New Year's Eve night. He was pulling a shot by trying to take a hand...else Nate wouldn't have told me that he was a new player. When Nate arrived for the decision, he told me once again that Chico has to post to take a hand.
As Nate left, I said, "Honestly, Chico, trying to trick me right in the beginning of the New Year." Please...if you think I'm out of line with that statement, you'd have to have been there for all the times that Chico has been out of line and forced everyone to put up with his bad behavior.
Chico started muttering about how much money he was going to save because he wasn't tipping me; the $.50 tip that I've received from him approximately 6 times in a year isn't going to change my life style. I said, "You must be talking about tipping."
He muttered, "I am. Don't talk to me; don't ever say a word to me again."
I said, "Please return the same favor to me."
I got pushed by the next dealer and left Chico muttering in his paranoid stupor. My friend, Cullen B. visited with me while I had a drink after work...Cullen was in the broken game with Chico...Chico did post his big blind but the hand was never dealt; Chico really was not even entitled to draw a card because he'd never played a hand.
It's far from over...just a lull in the Demon Slime scenario.
5/16/02 - Curtis B. dropped a pink chip on his way to the cashier's cage. A little excitement and frantic looking by a lot of people...hey, it's only $25,000. One of the players in the high limit section found it and returned it to him. He's lucky. If it had hit the floor in the lower section, someone else would've escaped with it.
I dealt a $1-$5 7 Card Stud game during the 1st part of my night and got into an altercation with a man that was as big around as a toothpick, about 5'7" and couldn't have weighed more than 90 lbs. He was about 70 years old. I'm not making fun of him, just a player description for full effect. He was in the 3 seat.
Everyone was hooting and having a great time except him. About the 5th hand I dealt, the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 seat were all in the hand to 4th Street.
The 4 seat was high and checked. Everyone checked, or so I thought. I tapped the table, burned, and turned off 5th Street to everyone.
After the round was dealt, the 3 seat said he didn't check, that he wanted to bet. I told him I was sorry but it was too late now.
He told me that I should learn to pay attention and he STILL wanted to bet. I told him that I tapped the table and put out an up card for everyone before he let me know that he wanted to bet. He still insisted that I should pay attention.
Ok, I got mouthy here. I said, "Get over it. It's too late now to do anything about it."
The 3 seat had a 4 card straight showing, the 8 seat had a 4 card flush showing and the 4 seat was high.
I called all of the possibles and the 4 seat checked. Everyone checked around to the 3 seat and he bet. All the while he informed me that I should be fired, that I had no idea what I was doing, and he didn't think I should be allowed to work there.
With a completely straight face and sincere tone I said, "Well thank you, Sir. That's really nice of you."
A player called his bet and I burned and turned off the River. Still he never shut up about how worthless I was and I shouldn't be allowed to work there, I should be fired. The other player folded and I pushed him the pot.
All of the other players were in shock at his attitude. One player said they'd all put in $5 each and make his pot bigger so he could settle down. They were all defending me by now, stating that even if I did make a mistake, it wasn't the end of the world.
He picked up his chips and told me that he owned 1,000 shares of stock in the place and he would see about my job. I said, "Great. Why don't you buy the place and fire me?"
He left in a huff and everyone else continued to hoot and have a great time while they discussed what a jerk he was. I even went to my supervisor, Pete P., and told him the tale on my next break. I ratted on myself for being mouthy.
High limit was confined mostly to the high limit section instead of running over into the low limit games. George was in the usual $200-$400 Blind Pot Limit Omaha game but I managed to detour/escape all the high limit tonight. SWEET! I dealt one $80-$160 Hold’em game and all the rest were $30-$60 and lower. Kind of restored my faith in the life of everyday poker.
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.