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Poker News | The View from the Box

The View from the Box – Play the Game but Count Your Cards

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.

The game. It’s all a game, right? Everything in life is a game. The rules may change. The stakes may vary. But…we are living in a game. Occasionally we even get to dance. But the following post isn’t about dancing, it is about the game. Most people aren’t even aware of the reasons that motivate them to be an asshole or a good guy or a wall flower that never hears the music. We all have reasons to be, we all express those reasons according to our own learned behavior, and many of us are even smart enough to step outside the boundaries of learned behavior and watch and learn from the game.

A poker table is the nucleus of the game. Each cell moves in, interacts, and then moves off (having absorbed certain elements of the game before it goes) to interact with others. At the poker table all the cells are trying to exert their presence and become the center of the game, they always fail; even if they prevailed for a short time, another cell enters and changes the game.

Once you realize that poker really isn’t about a deck of cards and getting aces beat or drawing out with 9-4 off suit, you’ll feel better. Poker is a game of people played with cards. In order to get the full picture of the game, you have to pay attention, you have to be aware, you have to watch, you have to listen, and you have to be intelligent enough to assimilate all the information you gather and use it in the game.

The first part of the following Table Tango post had to do with Andy Beal playing against The Corporation. If you drift back through The View from the Box, you’ll find posts about the big game and the reason I stopped writing about it.

Hey…it’s all a game.

October 4th, 2003: There's a lot of conjecture going on right now about whether or not I'm in hot water with management, if I got the word from someone about something, and a lot of posts on other internet forums/sites about 'what's going on?' with me and the reasons I'm not running any posts about 'the big game,' I'm not in hot water, I did not get 'the word from management,' and I don't care to discuss my reasons right now. Maybe another time…for now, let's proceed with poker and the play of the game.


I whisked through Friday night like a hot knife through butter, even slid through a session of $2,000-$4,000 Mixed on table 1 that was pretty funny. Chau was in the 8s and appeared to be extremely tired but he was funny.

Gus H. was in the 7s, running back and forth to table 7 to visit with Shaun, talking about sports bets and then off to the Sports Book and a mad dash back to the table so he could check out his hand. Chau and Gus had a little running conversation going on, as did Shaun and Gus, and Gus was still blasting chips into the pot for most of my down.

Gus and Chau started a heads-up war in one hand and Chau slammed a raise on Gus's bet, Chau said, "Throw your hand away. I got you beat."

Gus gave him a quizzical look and asked, "Are you bluffing me?"

Chau said, "No! I never bluff a buddy."

Gus threw his hand away and Chau asked, "Never bluff a buddy…right, Linda?"

He had a Dennis the Menace twinkle in his eye and started laughing.

I said, "Right!"

Then Chau broke into a roar and said, "Yeah, right. Never bluff a buddy."

I asked, "Did you play all night, Chau?"

He said, "These guys gonna be here? If they are, I play all night, Linda!" followed by more laughter, mine and his now.

The hot knife hit a rock in the butter when I got to table 6. It was $10-$20 Omaha 8 or Better with a Kill and felt like landmines were everywhere, spread out across the seats, just little explosions waiting to happen — and they did.

As soon as my butt hit the chair, the 1s asked for a set-up. I called for one. Jay was in the 5s and he stated that this wasn't a time game so we didn't need a set-up, unless someone had asked for one.

I said someone did.

He wanted to know who and I nodded towards the 1s as I scrambled and shuffled the deck. He chuckled and commented that the local table captain, Jim, wasn't there, and that would be the only person Jay could think of that would have asked for one.

There were a few locals in the game but mostly visitors. The game was hopping. Double A was in the 8s and pretty quiet.

The 2s, had been playing in the room the last few days, was slamming and jamming and playing almost every hand, had quite a few chips in front of him, a sweater behind him and talked it up when he played a hand.

It took me a few minutes of calling to get a setup and finally the game seemed to settle down for a moment. But just when I thought it was back to the hot knife through butter, after I'd dealt all the hands out, and the Flop was up, I knew by the feel of the Stub that a card was missing.

I couldn't see any odd cards laying anywhere around the drinks, the chips, or anyplace else that cards shouldn't be and my plan was to finish the hand, claim that the deck was bad and just change it…then call for a setup again within a few minutes due to another bad card. Sure…it's like a lie but I chose to do that rather than cause a big stink and then create problems with the whole game, people wondering how long a card has been missing, everyone's in an uproar believing they lost the last hand because a card was missing, and a bunch of other things that just wreck a game.

Not to worry, it surfaced immediately, in a circumstance that I hate to see happen to anyone that plays poker. Double A and the 10s were heads up; on the River, Double A turned up his hand and started to say, "I've got…" he spread his cards and finished with "five cards." It was sick. He had quite a bit of money in the pot.

Before I could say anything, the 6s exclaimed, "He's got a dead hand!"

I said, "Just let me call for a decision."

The 6s continued, "Everyone knows his hand is dead."

I said, "I can't make that decision, let me call for a Floor Person."

Double A shook his head and pushed his cards in to be mucked.

There were a few exclamations and noises around the table and the game went on.

It turned into a Kill Pot for the 10s. He was 2nd under the gun and raised.

I said, "Raise!"

The 1s folded, the 2s put in $15, and the 3 and 4s threw their hand away. Everyone informed the 2s that it was raised and he tried to take back his $15 and throw his hand away. I told him he had to leave the $15 and could fold or he could put in $30 and play the hand. His hand was in front of him and not close to the muck so it was completely retrievable.

He had a fit, something like, "You should have said it was raised, you didn't say anything."

I said, "Yes I did. I called the raise."

He continued his argument and wanted a decision. I called for one.

Jay told him that the reason he would be forced to leave the $15 was because players had acted behind him.

The 2s argued and we waited for a decision.

On a funny note, Jay said, "Getting a decision is worth it in this room because it's a free roll."

When the Floor arrived, I started to state what had happened and the 2s jumped in, arguing loudly and cutting me off. I said, "Wait a minute and let me explain what happened."

The Floor said he had to hear from the dealer first. The 2s exclaimed, "Go ahead and tell your side."

I looked at him, shaking my head in disbelief, and said, "I don't have a side!"

That brought a laugh from some of the players, but it's true. I don't have a side, it's not a war or issue with me, it's a house rule.

The decision was that he would leave the $15 and throw away his hand or put in $15 more and play it. He elected to play it but continued a few more statements about the fact that I should have said raise and I shouldn't have let the other players fold before he had called $15 and the nice part of it was the 3 and 4s both told him to 'leave the dealer alone…it wasn't her fault,' and the Floor Person stood there for a moment forcing him to drop the issue.

The last hand I dealt, Double A played to the River and got called, when he spread his hand, he said, "I'm afraid to spread the cards, I might have five again."

He won the pot, I left the game, stopped behind him for a moment and told him I was sorry. He said, "It's not your fault. I'm supposed to know how many cards I have."

Love this guy and his attitude.

Then I was out the door, TGIF.

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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