The room is slamming with noise, microphones run a nonstop war from all directions, people waiting to get on the list, people on the list waiting to get a seat, conversation, and body heat build the pulse of poker, stretched to the max, as it pumps through the room…and above it all, the subtle ‘shick – shick-shick – shick-shick-shick’ of chips, sliding into stacks of bet, raise, raise, on the tables prevail over everything.
It’s exhilarating as hell to watch a great poker room run like a well-oiled machine. This work of art ran all week and people flooded through the door, hour after hour, looking for seats, and checking out the room.
My first week back was a great one, a few friends in town that I hadn’t seen in awhile, lunch with my friend, Jim, from Colorado, and surprise, surprise, surprise when I slid into the dealer’s box on table 30, $8-$16 Holdem, to see Damien, a guy I dealt poker with in Montana, some 20 years ago. Met a few youngsters from Montana, the following night, in the same table and game. They know some of the people that I know in the Montana ‘poker arena’ although most of the old timers have passed on…these kids are way too young to associate with the time period that I worked there but all the old stomping grounds are familiar places to them…they were born and raised there.
And speaking of old friends*…an Omaha 8 or Better post is a must.
Kimiko, a long time player, with a personality that does strange things to everyone, including her. She can be so warm and complimentary and then turn on a dime to become a bigger nightmare than all the nightmares in the world, captured and forced into a blender for 10 minutes, on ‘grate, chop, and grind’. A nonstop poker version of Chatty Cathy, she has no off switch or volume control. She’s off and on with playing, no see for a long time, then everyday for weeks…right now it’s the ‘weeks’ version.
Double A, likes to chat while he plays unless he’s ground out, dead and dying, without a win in the last few days. He’s got a soft heart and doesn’t dislike anyone…he just came to play poker.
Jeff P., mentioned in another post, has been quite ill over the last year, just resumed playing on a steady basis. He’s pretty quiet most of the time, when he speaks, his words come out so fast that they run together in a jumble and sometimes it’s hard to catch what he’s saying.
Al N., one of my favorites, always helpful with the game and any situation that might come up, he’s pretty much ‘table/game’ aware and will help the dealer from an unbiased viewpoint. We usually share a few discreet smiles, prompted by some of the loony attitudes and things that happen, while I’m in the box.
J.C.P., a nonhuman Neanderthal that learned to sit upright and put chips in the pot, usually with the worst hand; always trying to prove to the dealer that he can win the pot just to stiff the dealer, never happy whether he wins or loses, plays all the games.
Doug C., straight faced and quiet when he talks, comes off as being a ‘mean grouchy’ but he really isn’t…it takes a little time to get through some of his ‘stone’ faced comments and get to where he’s at…but it can be done.
Kevin, a ‘yuckle, chuckle’, likes to play, Good Time Charlie. Can’t say that I’ve ever seen him upset when he plays, except one time when I didn’t do something as I should have, can’t even remember what it was now, and he appeared gruff with me for the rest of my down. He’s long term, Grade A, Omaha born and raised, doesn’t play anything but.
Jay, appears to have a real life outside of poker…whatever that means…he puts chips in the pot and can really get into a nonstop, talk tiz, from time to time. He appears to have a slightly condescending attitude about poker players…where the hell does that come from???? But he’s fun in a game and livens it right up by putting chips in the pot and spicing the ‘chip war’ up with dialogue.
Jim, the Table Captain, very seldom ever knows what’s going on in the game but he thinks he does and that’s the important part. Everyone refers to him as ‘The Table Captain’…even people that played with him a year ago, remember him as the Table Captain. He’s easy to get along with as long as you do what’s expected of you.
Also a little groundwork has to be laid on Penny. She’s one of our dealers. She dealt poker in the South, years ago, before anything was legal in gaming. At the end of the night, if a player had an odd $60 or $70 when they cashed out, they just threw it to her. Plus they tipped her during the night when they won a hand. She made zillions of $$$ and got used to having money thrown at her. She kept herself broke by betting on a variety of things. She moved to Vegas, where the money dealers made some years ago was much better than the present toke rate. Hence her attitude…she’s pretty unhappy and ungrateful when she receives a $.50 toke. She’s not the only dealer that has that attitude but with her it seems to pop up more often.
The boys in the Omaha game aren’t really hateful, mean, spiteful people but they do band together if you try to infringe on their ‘group’ and if you’re not courteous or doing your job when you come through their territory. Many times I’ve listened to conversations about Penny. Yes, they are ‘hearsay’. I was not sitting there listening to the actual conversation but listening to them talk about the conversation. Some of it goes like this:
Jim, “Get some halves in the rack.”
Penny, “We aren’t allowed to keep halves in the rack because they aren’t used in the game.” This statement may have been made, but putting halves in any rack is ok with the house, it’s not OK with Penny.
As Jim tells this tale, he finishes with an explanation to the table, ‘…the halves aren’t for the dealers. Dealers get blue chips, the halves are for the coffee…’
Another time when a really live player was stuck quad zillion $$$ in the game, he won a small pot that had somewhere around $30 in it and half of it was his own money. He threw out $1 and said, “Chop.”
She threw it back to him and said, “I don’t chop. I don’t need your $.50 piece. That’s why I like to deal high limit, I make over $300 every night up there.” Another statement that I find very hard to believe…not necessarily that she made it but that she would make $300 every night up there…no one else does.
KEEP IN MIND THAT THE ABOVE ARE HEARSAY STATEMENTS.
So back to the game/table events. There is no moral or awe inspiring thought that could be taken and expounded upon from this game or scene, it’s just a fragment out of time that almost has to be lived to fully appreciate the event and the fact that these people get together on a regular basis and do the same things over and over and over.
I pushed Penny out of the game, $20-$40 with a 1/2 Kill. She turned around to me and stated that the 7s had a $2 bill under his chips and that she’d told him it didn’t play and shouldn’t be on the table but since the dayshift dealer wasn’t doing his job, it had been there all day and the player refused to take it off the table.
I sat down and even though Penny was going into the table right in front of me and could hear them, they started hooting. The player with the $2 bill made the statement that the $2 had cost her $4. This game is played with $10 chips and I wouldn’t have said a word to him about the $2 bill, mainly because it’s such an oddity that most people just don’t walk around with them in their pocket. But they went on and on about her and her attitude about accepting a $.50 toke.
Everyone in this game is in their own little world and every now and then, their worlds collide and they ‘chit-chat’ on the same subject. This game still held the ‘separate worlds theme’ but some of them did get into and onto the same level.
The conversation went to J.C.P. He wasn’t in the room and they were talking about how lucky he was when he plays so many bad hands and about his attitude towards the dealers.
I interjected with, “He sure saves a lot of blues.”
They all roared because that’s his standard line, win or lose, he wants to let the dealer know that he’s not tipping them.
Someone asked if he ever tipped a dealer and I said, “Sure. The ones that grovel.”
The 2s wondered why he would hate the dealers since none of it had anything to do with the dealers and several people jumped in to try and explain that J.C.P. was such a nice guy away from the table but just hated dealers.
I threw in, “If I was 90 miles outside Vegas and it was 110 outside and he was standing outside a broken down car, he’s probably the only person I know that I would drive right by and do this,” I pointed my index finger down to the table.”
They roared. At the same time, J.C.P. walked into the room and was walking by the table. Double A, in the 1s, looked up and said, “Hi, J.C., my friend.”
They laughed even harder and continued to talk about him and how brutal he was to play with, and his bad attitude, after he walked by.
At the same time, Jim, in the 6s, returned from Noodles with food. He exclaimed that he hadn’t had anything since breakfast and he was starving. Doug, in the 10s, started asking him if he brought enough to share, and the 7s started telling Jim about the $2 bill incident and Penny’s attitude.
Jim opened the lid on his take out container and Doug pointed at Jim’s food container and spouted, “See, they knew it was you and you don’t tip, that’s why they only filled it 3/4’s full. They fill it clear to the top for me.”
Kevin, in the 5s, handed Jim’s chop sticks to Doug and told him to join in Jim’s food, at one point even taking Jim’s dish and handing it to Doug, over the table top, while Jim had turned around to get a drink.
Then someone said something about the Johnny Cash Special that was airing and Doug started singing, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time.”
And so it went, on and on and on. I laughed all the way through my down. This little microcosm of society, unaware that the rest of the world is out there, is tucked neatly away in a section of green felt at Bellagio.
*Don’t be misled and believe that I consider the majority of people to be my friend. I enjoy people, watching them, listening to their viewpoint, and sharing moments of their life with them, but in the real world, my friends are hand picked, time tested, wonderful individuals.