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.
Poker and life share a current that wraps and twists all the elements of human emotion and behavior into a stream of energy that either helps people progress in their spiritual growth and strengthens their integrity or it all implodes into a super mass of ugly that festers and grows out of the dark recesses of their past experiences that have never embraced a warm breath of sunshine and the ability to reason through their experiences. People who are ‘stuck’ in the current aren’t looking for a way to improve themselves and their experience — instead they try to feed on any circumstance that will continue to bolster and grow emotion that can keep them trapped for life.
If you can’t look around you and realize that everyone else’s dreams are as important to them as yours are to you and they deserve the best life has to offer – just as you do – you’re stuck to a current that will damage your spirit and keep you tied to a life where unhappiness reigns supreme. You see that kind of misery surface, probably more so, at the poker table than any place in life.
At the poker table you take a seat with the same players that play your favorite limit/games, and each time you visit the poker room, you cross paths with them again and again. Losing — or winning — is a truly emotional feeding experience and you witness the very best, or worst, in people when you rub elbows with them over a game of cards where their money is on the line...repeat...repeat...repeat!
So what changed Joe (in the following post) from the happy-go-lucky, poker playing, charmer to the mean, ugly Grinch he became? IMHO, I would say he did. It can’t be blamed on a game of cards or life’s circumstances, the blame lies entirely with him. Don’t let it happen to you, Kids!
January 3, 2005: Get a cup of coffee…or better yet a glass of wine…this baby's a long one.
I'm a 'why' person. I try to understand and figure out people patterns and behavior and keep running the circumstances through my brain until I come to a conclusion…one that I can live with anyway. But I still can't figure it out. There's no rhyme or reason as to why it went the way it did. W-H-A-T? The way what went the way it did?
A step back in time to New Year's Eve. Everyone on swing shift was working a 10 hour shift - arrive before 5 p.m. - guaranteed to be out at 3 a.m. The strip was locked down by 6 p.m. with no automobile traffic allowed and it was going to be limited access by everyone and anyone that needed or wanted to be around the Strip for the night.
My start in the line-up was supposed to be 27B but I was routed to Table 8 instead - it was $100-200 Holdem. While I was dealing this game, Bobby Baldwin did a walk through and I gave him a cheerful, "Happy New Year!" He responded with a smile and returned the greeting. Hey…he's my top of the top, no questions asked - B-O-S-S.
Most of the night was pretty run of the mill, people celebrating being in Vegas and the New Year - playing poker - having fun…until I hit Table 14. I am bad. I took three pictures of players in the $2-5 blind NLH game in between dealing hands. The pictures were of players, regular customers, they had their own camera and wanted to be photographed…hell…it was New Year's Eve! I think I got away with the first two…but on the third one, Pete (supervisor) appeared. He leaned over quietly and asked if I had taken a picture. I said yes. He said security had just called and it was a 'no - no'. Ok! They got their pictures and I didn't get written up or fired. SWEET! First and last offense…honest officer…it won't happen again.
At 10:30 - when I'd been there five and one half hours - I spotted Joe and another player on Table 18 with their chips in a rack. That was my next game. A little history is needed here. In a previous post - 12/9/04 - Joe gave me heat because I asked him to take his chips out of a rack when I entered a $15-30 Hold’em game. He had a little tiz about 'Linda's rules' type of thing and he was on the transfer list to another game. Something else happened with another player (rule wise) and I straightened it out. Joe told me that if I brought up one more rule, he was out of there…well ok…see ya! He got the transfer shortly after that and moved to the next game.
Previous to that, I met him almost three years ago…one of my first experiences with him was when I was playing and he was sitting next to me. He was animated and talked almost nonstop about life and marriage and how much he believed in marriage with the right person but his just didn't work out - along with a few other topics that he seemed to be an authority on. He played on a semi-regular basis at that time.
Enter Jillian. She's the subject of posts during the summer of 2003. She was leaving for college in the fall and played almost every night during the summer. Joe and Jillian became friends. Chris entered the picture here. He was playing in a game with Jillian and me during this time period, giving away more chips than the law allowed, and over the course of a few weeks, Joe, Jillian, and Chris appeared to spend quite a bit of time together, at and away from the table.
Chris suddenly left town at one point. I received several emails from him, just general info on where he was, what he was doing, and about playing poker.
One night at the table, Joe and Jillian were talking about Chris. It was all negative. I can't remember the entire conversation but it had something to do with Chris 'burning' Joe after Joe had offered friendship, a place to stay, and a few other things. I mentioned that I had gotten an email from Chris. It was almost as if I'd done something wrong for receiving an email from him…you would have to have been there to felt the initial reaction.
Jillian eventually moved back East to continue college, she comes in occasionally to play when she's in town, and Joe plays $15-30 Hold’em intermittently.
Skipping forward to New Year's Eve — I had no desire to sit down in the Dealer's Box and tell Joe and the guy next to him that they couldn't have racks on the table. This is a huge irritation with me…why can't the dealers ahead of me just do their damn jobs? There are plaques on the podiums that clearly state no racks are allowed on the table. Why is it an issue with anyone? It's a rule, just go with it!
While I was on a break - before entering Table 18, I went to Carmen and asked her if she would tell Joe and the guy next to him to remove their chips from the racks. She did. When I sat down, the guy next to Joe had converted his racks into three $500 chips and had them underneath a short stack of blue chips beside several stacks of red chips. Joe's chips were out of the rack and he was absent. He returned. He'd obviously been drinking and was in the oblivion stages where no one was going to say anything to him that would slow him down and he was focused on anger.
In a belligerent manner, he asked, "Where are those $500 chips?" directed at the guy next to him. The guy was laughing and told Joe he'd put them in his pocket.
I could tell by the manner that Joe stated the question that he was in attack mode and I tried to make light of it by stating, "They are under his stack of blues, Silly Kid!"
This was the starting gate for 'ugly as it can get'. Joe went into a ramble about how he couldn't keep his chips in a rack but the guy next to him could take $1,500 off the table and put it in his pocket and no one cared. Again I told Joe the chips were under the stack of blues. He persisted, "The house has fucking rules for everything but they don't care if a guy takes his chips off the table and puts them in his pocket. If they don't care, then I don't give a shit!"
A woman at the table I'd never seen before, jumped in with, "You swore!" She was laughing.
Joe asked, "What word did you notice, was it shit or fuck?"
"It was fuck," and she continued to laugh as if it was the first time she'd ever heard the two works together in the same sentence and she was a plant in the audience at a comedy show.
Joe was nonstop swearing now. I asked him to settle down and play poker. He laughed at me, "Go ahead and call the floorman, Linda, all they'll do is tell me stop, they'll walk away and I'll still be here."
He rambled on; the subject of the chips being in the guy’s pocket came up again. I told him again they were under the stack of blues and I had told him when he first brought it up. Joe said he couldn't hear out of his left ear and had only so much hearing in his right ear…we've all heard this from him and it's a 'canned' speech.
I was losing my patience with him. I stated, "You have selective hearing."
He said he didn't; he jumped off the subject of his hearing and continued to have a fit because he had to take his chips out of the rack and everything had to be, "Linda's way."
I called for my supervisor. Pete arrived. I told him what was going on. Pete did just about what Joe said he would do. Pete asked Joe to stop, Joe rambled, Pete asked Joe to stop again, and Pete walked away.
I kept dealing.
Joe said, "Linda, you are an asshole! You are never nice to me," intermingled with more swearing and anger.
I looked at Joe and asked, "Where is this coming from? Just stop it and play poker."
He kept calling me an asshole, telling me it was a "Linda's rules" thing and to call the floorman if I wanted. So be it! I did.
I seriously thought about laughing out loud. The whole display was ludicrous and uncalled for…it had to be a joke that Cardz was playing on me…right? Right! It wasn't.
Pete arrived. I explained the situation, Pete told Joe to take a 20 minute walk while I dealt. Joe was indignant. He'd just paid his small and big blind and he was going to play the full round. Pete told him to walk; he kept arguing and asking Pete if he wanted to break up the game. I dealt around Joe. It was a verbal war between Pete and Joe and I think if I'd been in Pete's spot, I would have called Security at this point. I believe that Pete tried to reason with Joe because it was New Year's Eve and there's really no place to go once you're in a casino…the Strip is locked down and nothing moves.
Several people refused to take the blind in the game, several people began putting their chips in racks to leave. Joe was right…it/he did break the game. Joe was up talking to Pete at this point and made the comment that I shouldn't even be there because I was friends with someone that should be in jail, "…her little internet thing…" (I can only surmise that he's talking about Chris and I have nothing to do with any of it…Chris, Joe, or their differences or problems…hell all I did was receive an email.)
I called the Brush because I had four people left to draw for seats; even the brush left me stranded at this point. Two people said they would play anyway and the Brush walked away.
The 10s was racking his chips and he said I was completely right in the way I handled the situation and that Joe should have been throw out a long time ago.
One of the players that still wanted to play told me it was all my fault. I should have understood that Joe had been drinking and just left him alone. Funny…but Joe was the one that wouldn't leave me alone.
I called the brush back, he had three seats, my table cleared out, Joe stood and harped at Pete. Pete stood between me and Joe and I turned my back to them and looked across the room. Pete questioned Joe as to why he would keep harassing the dealer. Joe was on a rant. After what seemed an eternity, Joe's chips were collected, he was away from the table, Pete walked up to ask me if the other players had been placed in another game and to lock up the dealer's box. Joe was now at the middle podium talking to the Brush.
The box was locked. Joe was staring and waving at me as he talked to the brush. I'd had it. I loudly snorted, "Happy New Year, Joe!"
He came charging towards me demanding, "What did you say?"
I turned around and headed for the office. I could hear Pete tell him I'd said Happy New year.
I'm baffled. I have no idea where any of this came from. I didn't know that Joe and I had any problems. One thing that really irritates me out of all of it is what is it with "Linda's rules"? Does anyone out there in poker land know that Bellagio pays my salary and Bellagio has rules? If I enforce the rule that it isn't my rule, it happens to be the house that I work in and as an employee I should do what my employer asks me to do? Should I allow one person to do something and not allow someone else to do it? Ke-e-e-rist! Where are these people coming from?
Back to reality. I managed to step out of an employee entrance and watch some of the fireworks with a lot of the cocktail staff. I'd lost my taste for everything, including mankind and the new year. What a way to bring it in.
On the upside of everything, I had the perfect New Year's Day. I hiked Calico Basin with Wayne, we had dinner at the Palms, played poker at the newly opened Gold Coast room (one of my old haunts), and New Year's Eve drifted off - like smoke in the wind - into another time and place…a memory already replaced with warm memories worth keeping of nature and special people.
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.