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.
That fragile table of green felt that holds the tickets, the chips, and the soul of most players is a very precarious spot for a dealer at times. No matter how well you do your job, remain impartial to who wins and who loses, keep an even tone to your voice even though you want to choke the living shit out of an obnoxious player, you simply cannot win.
I once had a run-in with an obnoxious player named Chris when I was working at the Mirage. Eventually we got along but it took a while – like 10 years or so and that was after playing cards with him at the Gold Coast a number of times. Chris is a good sized gent and very much dislikes anyone telling him anything, especially a woman…did I forget to say he’s Greek also? And has a temper when someone doesn’t bow down and roll over when he voices a command?
Chris was the table captain of a $3/$6 Hold’em game one night when I pushed into the box. He was telling everyone what they could and couldn’t do and the dealer before me let Chris ramrod the game. We went to war when he wanted to pass chips to a player and I said “NO!”
He was tossing cards, snorting out some guttural BS and I called the floor man. It was Lou who came to my aid. I explained the situation and Lou told Chris to calm down and turned and walked away. As soon as Lou left, Chris said, “You got no win, Linda!” like an axe murder laughing at his next victim.
I screamed for a decision! Lou came back, I told him what Chris had said and Lou pulled him from the game and took him in the office. Maybe they laughed about the whole thing but the end result was that Chris never said a word to me for a very, very long time.
When it comes to dealing to the same players that you just had a beef with – over and over – you really ‘got no win’ because Murphy’s Law says that’s the way it’s gonna be…and that’s the way it is. The very next night, I dealt to Karate Don. Here’s the tale.
March 19th, 2007: Of course I got to deal to Karate Don again. Somewhere in a dark cave, buried in the bowels of Death Mountain, there's a stone tablet that contains certain rules of dealing. The first one is: Thou shalt deal repeatedly and continuously, night after night folding into countless eons of bad experiences to the same player that you had a problem with the night before, on into time eternal.
Don was in a must move $5-10 NLH, in the 3s and as soon as I collected Time, he took a walk, almost tripping over his own feet in his haste to get to the brush handling the $5-10 list. Perhaps Don was looking for a transfer. Perhaps he was looking to bad mouth me for doing my job. Go for it, Don! He came back to the game almost at the end of my down, took his blind, I dealt two to three hands and as dark magic would have it - or Murphy's FUCKING law of dealing poker would have it - the first down card I dealt to Don popped face up just as it got to his hand. Kee-rist! It was a Queen. I apologized, finished the deal, and gave him a replacement card.
He couldn't wait to show one of his cards with a comment about me exposing his card. The card he showed was a Queen but honestly I think he showed the replacement card and not the first card he received. He gave me the glare, folded, and left the table again. WOW! Things are looking up in Flatbush, baby.
It's actually nights like this that make me wish I could retire from the industry. The Rudes seems to come in groups. I deal to a player named Jim on a fairly regular basis. I deal to several Jims on a regular basis but this one is a sniper. He plays $15-30H, $30-60H,and $20-40 Stud. He never appears to be happy. If he is mixing it up in a lot of pots and dragging chips, he is like any other player…content for the moment. If he's fading the nonplayable hands for hours or getting a few hands beat, he always tries to peg his cards into my hands at some point during my deal. I'm sure he does it to all of the dealers and not just to me. I'm wise to his crap and it's difficult for him or anyone else to get me with cards unless they are throwing them while I'm moving chips or putting up a card.
He got me.
He was in the 8s. Our drop slot sits about two inches above the table and is a perfect shield for the dealer's hands. But he managed to skip them over the drop slot and hit the side of my hand with his cards. Believe me, he had to be trying to hit me.
I just looked at him and pointedly said, "Please don't throw your cards into my hand."
He looked away.
I didn't expect anything else from a card throwing bum. He set his cards down after that. Most of the time he flips them at the dealer and then does an instantaneous, "I'm sorry."
That sorry never even goes to his eyes, it's so canned and insincere that he's worn it out and it's totally useless now.
And then there's Lee. Lee has been with us a very long time. His English is very poor and he barks each word as an argumentative command. He thinks he's very funny. And he thinks he's being funny when he disrupts a whole game or makes an idiot comment to a player. He plays all games, normally $50-100 and higher now but I've played with him across town in $4-8H games from time to time.
I sat down to deal a $40-80 Mixed game last week and Lee was in the 2s. Dennis was in the 4s and coming in as a new player. I announced that it was a time pot and told Dennis I needed $7 for time (he hadn't taken a hand yet). Lee informed me that Dennis didn't have to pay, he was a new player. I've seen this happen so many times with someone that's in the game, trying to save the new player $6 or $7 for a half-hour's time, and I can't help but wonder why they don't just SHUT UP and let the new player speak up if they have a question/problem with any of it.
I simply replied, "If you take the last seat at the table, you have to pay time."
Dennis never said a word; he put out $7.
Lee went berserko, broken English and all, "Who you work for? You work for house?" each word was hacked off, still bleeding and kicking as he spit them out into the air.
I was in no mood for it. I replied, "Of course I work for the house. Who do you think I work for?"
He kept barking and snapping, "Then we don't tip you, I win a pot, no tip. You work for house!" some kind of a grunt escaped his lips. I liken it to his manner of spitting on me without fluid - the grunt that is.
I snapped at him, "Please don't tip me. Then I won't have to tell you thank you."
The game went on. The 7s went bust in a hand and he wasn't a happy camper. He pulled out a wad of $100 bills and I asked him if he would like for me to call for chips for him. Lee started to lip off to me about that.
By now I was laughing over the way I handled my first encounter with Lee. I looked at Lee and smiled (probably a sick bitch smile at best), and asked, "What did I do wrong now?"
All of the players were like deaf mutes watching a mad dog rip out a bambi's throat that got lost in the woods. They just sat there, looking at me, looking at Lee.
I finished it by looking right at the 5s and motioning towards Lee with, "Long time buddy."
Nope, the 7s didn't want chips but he didn't tell me that, he just looked at me without saying a word, pulling his $100 bills into a stack in front of him.
That's another thing that's retarded in a $40-80 mixed game, they are playing hi/lo split games and chips are much easier to work with than $100 bills but why should I explain it to them - they are the ones paying Time and wasting time.
So back to the night of Karate Don and Jim. My last game was $100-200H. Of course Lee was in it. He plays a lot late night and plays in games with Ritchie W. They both speak Greek-n-ese (hell, it's all Greek to me) and they've been called on speaking a foreign language at the table before. They were both in this game. Ritchie is always the perfect gentlemen, never throws a card or has a temper fit or makes a comment when he's getting his brains beat out. Lee is another story altogether.
Everything was fine except Lee made some stupid blustery comments to a player that got beat in a big pot and the player left the game. Cashed and left. Greg was sitting next to me, in the 9s, and he made a low voiced comment, "Way to go, Lee." I believe I'm the only one that heard him and I have to agree. Lee is not good for a game. He's never live so look at that as one reason he's not good for the game. There are others.
A kindly gent that I've mentioned before was in the 5s, Michael. Lee raised pre-flop and Michael called. Lee jammed every chance he got with a board that was something like 2-7-8 with two clubs; Michael called every bet until the river and then fired it up. Lee paid him off. Michael turned over A-little of clubs and he missed the flush but he made a straight.
Lee took off in Greek-n-ese and by the way Michael looked, I felt he understood what Lee was saying. In my opinion I'm sure that Lee was calling me all kinds of nasty things and then for five minutes he did his best to show his disdain for me, that grunt thing, while he glared and stared at me.
I just kept dealing. Yup, deal the cards right off the top of the deck, no problemo.
I just kept dealing while he croaked out his intermittent hateful grunts. Quite seriously, I wanted to ask him if he needed a glass of water but I didn't have the energy; those eight hour shifts are draining.
What would I say to him if I didn't deal for a living…well…use your imagination, mine's running wild right now.
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.