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.
I went back, looking for a post that might share the joys of dealing poker during the holidays – no, I’m not joking! Although one would think people would be a little more kind, a little more forgiving, a little more thoughtful, because someone in a service job is working during the holidays, the sad side of it is that many people are completely miserable during the holidays so how could they exude this blanket of warmth when they are cold and isolated internally?
On this particular day, when I hit work, I found out that someone I really liked had died. Not fun. But as the night progressed, I wasn’t sure if I should jump up on one of the poker tables and try to do a running leap to grab the drapes on the windows just to change the pace of the night, or just keep dealing until the time clock called my name.
And if I grabbed that drape? Chances are it would have held my weight and I could have tried swinging out through the window of the poker room on it…out into the casino that was jamming with all kinds of people from all over the world. That would have either killed me or I would have definitely changed the pace for the night as security led me down through the employee’s area under the casino to the security office — in handcuffs — while I waited for the police. Obviously I did none of the above. I just pushed to the next table when I got pushed.
Things livened up as I dealt to Mark later in the night. He was a trip. And what a body! It should be illegal for a grannie to be exposed to that much rock-hard, male flesh when she’s trying to work. Oh my!
The joys of dealing poker during the holidays are dead ahead…keep reading.
December 27th, 2004: I hit the shower about 5:30 and headed for the capital of Nevada…yes it is Bellagio! Don't let anyone tell you any different. The room was busy. It's expected this time of year. Approximately 1.5M people hit town between Christmas and New Year. They have to go somewhere, I figure they all head for the Capital.
The downside and jaw dropper to my night was that Mike Tashman died of a heart attack recently. He played a lot of our NLH weekly tournaments and I've known him and his wife, Melody, for years. We will all miss his great sense of humor and grace at the tables.
My first game was Table 25, easy to deal $30-60 Hold’em. It should have been an easy night but I had an offbeat feeling about the games in general. While no one was a problem, there just was no easy flow to the betting or game play. I went through several $4-8 and $8-16 Hold’em games, people were walking, the games need a shot of oxygen to revive them but it just wasn't coming and each down was a lot of hard work. Then I hit Table 30.
$8-16 Holdem. All guys except the 2s, a woman that always wants a deck change. Tonight was no different. Before my butt hit the dealer's chair she wanted a deck change. Done deal.
The 3s had arms bigger than my thighs. He was wearing a baseball cap that read "LA", a T-shirt with something on it, and had major attitude. He lost the first I hand I dealt and commented, "Jacks and no fucking raise before the Flop."
He was SO loud about it that I cautioned him on his language, like this, "No potty mouth."
He had his own war going on with muscles that are too big to be on any human. "No potty mouth," he sneered at me. "Where are we, in church? We swear when we play poker!"
I said, "No we don't. Not here."
He didn't slow down. He had his own little sermon going about the benefits of swearing and poker and I told him once again that we weren't going to swear…it was a house rule.
As I dealt the next hand, he started praying, "God, please let me win this hand…blah, blah, blah."
I started laughing. "It might work for you. It doesn't work for me when I play but it might for you."
Everyone in the game was quiet as hell, as if they were afraid the 3s would lose control of all of his muscle and jump up and start kicking the players out into the casino.
He mumbled something about praying and did another "fuck" thing and I told him that was enough. I would call the supervisor if he swore again.
He then phrased every thing with a "Mother Linda…" in all of his sentences. Directing his conversation at me and including me in it. I wasn't quite sure if he was using half a word - you know "Mother" - in reference to me or if he was referring to me as a Nun.
About the fifth time he did it, I looked at him with, "I am a mother and a grandmother, do you want to call me grandmother Linda?"
He was one big guy. Very rough looking in the face but arms that were sculpted into smooth wrapping, huge, bulging muscles and probably intimidating to a lot of people. But I've faced down the devil himself so I wasn't about to back down to one little ol' human.
He lost another hand and made a comment about "…having the fucking balls."
I spotted Lee and sent her to find Pete for me. Pete is the Swing Shift Supervisor. Pete arrived during the hand and I explained about the "F" this and "F" that. Pete informed the 3s that abusive language was not going to be tolerated at Bellagio.
The 3s said he already knew it and he hadn't done it since I told him he couldn't. Yeah right! With that, Pete walked away.
The 3s told me I was just like his mother. Just when he started having fun, I ruined it. I told him we could have fun without swearing, he said no we couldn't.
He leaned back in his chair and slid his knit shirt up high on his chest and caressed his six pack stomach. There wasn't a hair on his body (the part that wasn't clothed anyway) and it looked like he'd just gotten 'waxed'. He did this several times and I wasn't sure if he was doing it on my account to see if he could get a reaction or just enjoying the feel of rock hard, hairless flesh.
I asked him if he was from L.A. He never looked up at me but did a half smile and said no. He was from Japan and Costa Rica.
I FINALLY broke the ice here. "Hey, it looks like a smile."
He said he was a professional wrestler and if he had his druthers, he'd live in Costa Rica. I asked him if he traveled a lot. He said yes. Name? Mark Smith! Never heard of him but then I don't follow the wrestling circuit and he might have been fibbing.
He mentioned the swearing thing again and I told him that it would force him to express himself using the English language. He said he'd graduated from college.
The rest of the table never said a word but the chips slammed and crashed across the green felt. I got pushed. I walked around behind him and touched his back with, "You can do it, Mark."
He shook my hand and gave me a smile. Damn it! I love poker!
Then a dance through $2,000-$4,000 mixed. Ralph P., Jeff, Chip, Phil, Eli, nothing to mention here, just the usual chip slamming, a few comments, and off to $300-600 mixed with Esther, David L., and an unknown. Crappy games for a dealer and I'll leave it at that.
The next game $10-20 blind NLH. My Montana friend, Damian, was in the 5s. He's the one that went bust with A-A when I dealt to him last week - same game, an earlier post. He raised it pre-flop and got called. The Flop was King high hearts. This time the tide turned. The player in the hand with him flopped a flush and the board paired on the River. Damian had K-K.
Phew! I was beginning to wonder…
A 'must post' coming up on the $20-40 Omaha 8 or Better with a half kill…but not tonight. This kid is dragging and lots of things on the menu today so off to Sandman Land. I promise I won't dream about poker or Mark Smith's hairless six pack stomach…
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. I now know that NO ONE is going to add to this piece of poker history but me. Not a problem, the remainder of this is going to remain just in case someone wants to share a piece of their poker history. 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.