Friday, June 27, 2003

Somebody opened Pandora’s Box in the poker room. All the little Grumble Bugs, Argue Mites, and Swear Beatles got loose and infected a lot of players, maybe some of the staff too, but the staff didn’t make any more noise than usual.

The whole room was a screaming mad house, players waiting to sign in, people going in and out to the tournament area, dealers coming in for Swing shift, satellites and the tournament running in the pit right outside the room, cocktails, and chip runners…HELP!…we need a traffic controller in here!

Back to the Bugs, Mites, and Beatles. I walked out of the room, into the Sports Book, heading for the restroom, to see Dino, (a low limit player that drinks too much, has the most sarcastic sense of humor of anyone I know, and never shuts up about any subject he feels is important which is mainly berating everyone within hearing distance), motioning to me. I walked over and he asked, “How’d you do playing yesterday?”

Almost before I could answer, he asked, “You know what happened to me?”

I said, “No.”

He went into, “I got into a game and the ugliest lady I’ve ever seen was already there playing.

She said, “I take money from men.”

He scratched his face and waited, looking at me like I was really supposed to be appreciating the fact that he was talking to me.

His reply to her was, “You are the ugliest lady I’ve ever seen.”

It’s slightly humorous that he calls her a lady while he’s telling her she’s ugly…or is that just my sick sense of humor?

He shook his head in disbelief as he asked, “Can you believe she wanted a floor person called and I got kicked out for the day?”

I laughed.

Then he said, “Go look at her, she’s on table 15, wearing green.”

I laughed at him as I left. Must be a Grumble Bug’s work.

I started on 42 Break, going into Table 1 at 7:30. Tables 31 through 42 are in the pit/tournament area. I walked out of the poker room, right into Steve, (my last post), he was pacing back and forth, in a little tiz. He stopped me with, “You haven’t been sending in emails about me, telling them I’m hard on dealers, have you?” he motioned to the poker room.

I wanted to laugh but he was seriously distressed so I said, “No. If I have a problem with you at the table, I just call for a decision. You know that.”

He went on to explain that he had been playing earlier and the dealer had no clue what she was doing so he’d been trying to help her. Some of this got a little distorted as he hopped from one sentence to the next like he needs his hard drive defragmented. Someone or the dealer didn’t like it, called the floor person, an argument ensued, he was told to pick up his chips and leave for the day.

He felt that he wasn’t out of line and that Debbie C., the Supervisor on days, had treated him unfairly. It was an Argue Mite at work here.

I told him to talk to Suzie and see what she knew, he said he was waiting for her but she was really busy right now. Speaking of Suzie, she called me from the Tournament area and wanted to know if I’d push into Table 42, a mistake had been made in the line-up. I left Steve to his pacing and went to deal a No Limit Holdem Satellite for tomorrow’s event.

After a break, I hit Table 1. They were playing $300-$600 Mixed Games but I got there for the last few hands of Omaha 8 or Better and then into the Deuce to 7 Triple Draw segment. Jimmy G. – 1s, Jim – 2s, Brian N. – 3s, Tommy – 4s, Eli E. – 5s, Mike W. – 7s.

No one was happy…I was but they didn’t care about me.

Chips and cards were flying, the Shuffle Master was down so I had to shuffle.

Tommy was fit to be tied, literally. After we got into the Deuce segment, he did the ‘super splat’, with all five of his cards dying from brain damage when they hit the green felt, after he gave up on the 2nd draw. He wanted a deck change. I had to call for a decision.

Normally, in games without the Shuffle Master, we change the deck on request except in ‘time’ games. In those games, a new deck is brought in every half hour. It keeps the game from slowing down with all the players that feel a new deck will change their luck, and keep requesting the change.

Since the Shuffle Master was sick, or out to lunch, or broken, or overworked, or whatever it is that happens to Shuffle Masters, the decision was ‘no’ on the deck change. That didn’t go over worth a damn with Tommy either.

During all the hub-bub, card zinging, chip slinging, anguish by everyone, Jimmy kept talking it up in my left ear, making comments that I needed to deal him a winner, ‘come on, Linda, concentrate’, and a few million other statements along with singing, doing a drum roll with his fingers on the table top, asking me what the song was that he used to sing at The Mirage when I dealt to him, etc.
He wanted me to scramble the deck, only in a certain way, because it was lucky for him.

I had to scramble for Tommy too, because he didn’t get the deck change. I did a ‘V’ spread with the cards and then crossed them with each other to make sure they all got mixed, but I could only do it with my left hand, in a clockwise motion, to make Jimmy happy. Yes, I started laughing when he told me to scramble them that way. I said, “Ok.”

He told me I could laugh if I wanted to but it was lucky for him. I kept laughing…how in the hell can you not laugh over this?

I dealt the next hand. Jimmy couldn’t play and told me I spread the cards too ‘long’ when I scrambled, and I needed to do it only about 18 inches in a circular motion. Brian told him that 18 inches was out of the question for any man, then Jimmy said that I would be looking Brian up if he didn’t quit talking about 18 inches. God! I laughed even harder…lunacy could never compete in this atmosphere.

About 6 months ago, I started a new game with Jimmy and three other players, they high card for the button and the playing order of the Mixed Games. As soon as the high card was drawn, Jimmy demand, “Deal, Linda!”

I said, “Jimmy, he hasn’t chosen the order of the games. I don’t even know what I’m dealing.”

He almost screamed, “Deal anyway!”

Wrong answer. I waited for the game choice from the player that drew high card. The twist in all of the games I deal? Each player is the twist.

Then we hopped into a huge action hand in the Deuce: four players, Tommy was the Small Blind, Eli, the Big Blind, Mike under the gun, and Jim was last, having the Button since Brian folded.

Every street was capped, on the 3rd draw, two players stayed pat and the other two drew one.

Tommy bet out, Eli raised, Mike called, and Jim raised.

Tommy started fitching and twitching, “Fucking son-of-a-bitch, fuck…” it rolled off somewhere, lost in the noise of the room, but his mouth kept moving and he kept looking at his cards. He finally slammed his cards into the felt, flipping them with his fingers, his mouth still spouting obscenities.

Eli never said a word but called the raise.

Mike stood up, “This fucking Bellagio, fucking asshole, fucking shit…” that went on for about a minute and half as he stood up with his cards, looking at the table, the size of the pot, the raise he was facing, and he finally threw his cards onto the table and took a walk.

Jim showed a wheel, 7-5-4-3-2.

Tommy kept swearing, picking up his chips, gesturing at me, fuck was about the only word in his vocabulary right then. He left, almost tripping over his own feet in his angry departure.

I shuffled up and announced, “This is the last hand of the game that everyone hates but keeps on playing.”

It was the 8th hand and maybe I should have kept my mouth shut but hey…they share all their profound insight into life with me, so why shouldn’t I share a little of mine with them.

Jimmy said that if I ran a business, I’d drive customers away rather than bring them in, and I should be named the terminator because he’d never seen so many people go broke while I was dealing…totally a myth.

I asked, “Well what can I do? The cards are coming right off the top.”

He was chuckling during this conversation and not mad or mean. I was pretty much in the front row seat of a comedy act and I couldn’t help but laugh with him. Those damn Swear Beatles had a heyday at this table.

Eli and Jim got called to Pot Limit Omaha, $50-$100 Blind, Brian and Jimmy decided they would play Chinese and I dealt three to four hands of that before I got pushed. All of a sudden, Table 1 was quiet. Whew!

My next game was the Pot Limit Omaha game. Devil Fish was in the 1s. They had a twist in the opening round that’s new to Bellagio, any player could put a Straddle on it from any position, $200, but the action started with the player in the Small Blind.

I found this to be a little strange, I would’ve thought that the player under the gun would act and when it came to the Straddle, they could raise or check and the action would move around to the Blinds, where they would call, raise, or fold. The way they’re playing, the Small Blind has to act first and either call the $150 more or throw their hand away, giving up the $50. Called the Mississippi Straddle…more fun and games.

My next game was $60-$120 Omaha 8 or Better with a 1/4 Kill. While dealing it, the game on Table 1 jump started again. Not sure what the game was but I could sure hear the noise. Scotty N., was in it, he was drinking, upset, and swearing. One of the players in my game was watching the noise and confusion – my back was to that table – and he said, “Scotty called the dealer a fucker in Vietnamese and the dealer called the Floor. Scotty forgot the dealer was Vietnamese.”

Everyone in my game was laughing over it. The noise from Table 1 went on for about five minutes before it got settled down.

My next break found me jumping into an escape hatch. I had signed the E/O list, we had plenty of dealers, and Suzie left me go early…I did not walk, I ran…right out into the heat of the Vegas night.

Yippee! I escaped the Bugs, Mites, and Beatles.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

My last two nights at work found me playing $4-$8 Holdem. One night a win, one night a loss. Guess the Card Fairy finally managed to sprinkle chip dust in my hair and I just couldn’t resist the urge. I’d been ‘poker free’, as a player, for almost four months. Nope, I’m not giving it up…

The first night found me sitting next to Steve. The night before, Steve was in the 10s of a $4-$8 Holdem game I dealt and the 9s mentioned that I must be the ‘writer and website Linda’. We conversed a little back and forth and Steve wanted to know what it was all about. Matt was the player in the 9s and he told Steve about the site’s contents and said he particularly liked the Montana days (which I plan on putting back into action soon).

I told Steve that I had written about him. He laughed and asked, “You mean the idiot that goes from $80-$160 to $4-$8 and back again?”

We got into a discussion about players, dealers, bad attitudes, good attitudes and believe it or not, I really didn’t have to say much, just nod and ‘umhhhh’ every now and then.

So back to playing with Steve. He was pretty low key and left the table several times for long walks. He can really put a sizzle into a game and crank it up so fast you’ll wonder if it’s even safe to play A-A…but this wasn’t that kind of night. He had a gripe with the WPT showing the hole cards of the players and giving new players the edge on learning the game from television rather than the hard way.

We argued a little bit in the respect that I like the fact that television is bringing poker into everyone’s home and making them aware that they can come out and play…I called it a tie because he wasn’t going to agree with me and I wasn’t going to agree with him.

I also sat next to Richard. He’s been a player in our room since we opened. He’s great as a friend, player, and mainstay in a poker game. He comes to play and if you pay attention, you know where he’s at in a hand.

He was on my left and four times, when I picked up a pair, he picked up a bigger one. I raised. He raised. Luckily the flop let me escape each time. He never hassles dealers or other players or throws cards or chips. Wish I had two or three of him at every table.

The 2nd night I played, I changed tables. A very pretty, young lady and her husband were sitting side by side in the game. They were from New Orleans and had been vacationing for a few weeks, traveling around the country and been on nonstop play since they hit Vegas. Everyone was very talkative.

She asked me what limit they were playing at the table behind me. It was $400-$800 7 Card Stud. Celine Dion’s husband, Renee, was in the 2s of that game. The conversation went to ‘what’s he like to deal to? does he tip? how does he act?’

My answer was and is this: “If all the players in every game I ever dealt and will deal, behaved like he does, you would never hear a dealer or a player complain.”

One thing she said to me that I find to be a touchy subject, her statement? “You must have been really beautiful when you were young.”

One guy said, “I think she’s beautiful now.”

She flustered a bit with, “Well, she is…”

I said, “I think I’m young now.”

She flushed and said she didn’t mean it like that. I smiled and told her I knew how she meant it.

She was giving me a compliment. Yet I find this to be quite irritating. Why do people feel that life and beauty is based on youth? Many people become more beautiful and much more valuable as friends, lovers, companions, and mates as they grow older.

Some of them even learn how to play poker…See you there!

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

On Monday night, the 23, I dealt two tables of the Festa al Lago, No Limit Holdem Tournament. Amazing how many big name players were left in those two tables…scary if you’re just getting started in tournament play because you know you’re up against some of the toughest players to ever make a stand at the Green Felt Arena.

While I was dealing, Scotty Nguyen, Annie Duke, and Carlos Mortensen, busted out. But there were a lot more ‘name brand’ players than just the three named, these three happened to be at my tables. Some of the WPT players were in this tournament also.

The S*T*A*R*S are everywhere in our room, come in and take a look…better yet, get on the list so you can play with them.


John, I’ve known him across the green felt for years; we’ve played together at The Gold Coast and The Orleans, and I’ve played against him and dealt to him at The Mirage, and Bellagio. I get a kick out of him and his play. He says his wife is one of the best cooks in the world…then pats his tummy. He can get a little excited and/or disgruntled while he’s playing but never totally out of line.

While dealing to him in $15-$30 Holdem, he must have been exceptionally tired or stressed out because the scene went like this:

John was in the 9s and raised pre-flop, under the gun. The 6s called.

The Flop was 10-8-7. John bet, 6s called.

The Turn a 5, John bet, the 6s called.

The River a 6, John bet $10 all-in, the 6s called.

John opened his hand, A-K, and said, “Straight, just like you have, only you might have a better one.”

The 6s pitched his hand into the muck.

I was in the process of dropping the deck, pulling the pot together to push it to John and he went crazy. “Linda! He threw his hand away. He has to hold onto his hand.”

Several players started to say something and before I could even get a word in, John went off again, demanding this time, “Linda, he threw his hand away. He has to have a hand.”

Even if I’d had a machete to chop his words off in the air, the next string was blasting out so fast I couldn’t say anything. I put my hand up and almost yelled, “John! Stop! There is NO straight on the board.”

I knew he thought there was a straight but he was so excited that he was like a run away train on 10 mile, downhill grade. He did stop then.

As I pushed the pot to him, I said, “I wasn’t going to split it up.”

Embarrassed, he stuttered and stammered for a few minutes and we went right on with the game. I had to give him a little shoulder pat when I left for the next table.


I got to deal to Double Mean and Completely Ugly again…yes, J.C.P. Fright night and wrath, brimstone and fire, creepiest of the creeps all rolled into the body of something that resembles a person but has nothing in common with the human race.

He was playing $60-$120 Omaha 8 or Better with a 1/4 Kill. The kill was on and he ended up heads up with a young guy next to him, the youngster was in the 7s, J.C.P. in the 8s.

The high hand was Aces and sixes, which they both held, but the 7s had a low. J.C.P. got quartered.

I took half of the chips in front of J.C.P. and gave them to the 7s, split the pot in half, and then split the high in half. I gave the odd chip to the 7s.

J.C.P. said, “I had a high also. Just bring that back and do it right.”

I said, “It is right.”

He followed with, “Then why does he get the odd chip?” Believe me, he knows why.

I said, “Because he’s left of the button.”

I looked directly at him while this was going on. Wish I hadn’t…damn he’s got a lot of ugly and hate in those eyes.

He flustered and blustered through the rest of my down and as soon as the next dealer approached, he put his chips in the rack and left. This guy had a heart attack about 6 months ago. The way he reacts and behaves at the table should be a good reason for him not to play since he has a medical condition.

Another reason for him not to play is so the atmosphere and aura of the room isn’t disturbed by all the hate and anger he has for himself.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

This is a six day work week for me and the way the tournament falls, some of our dealers will work two, six day work weeks. Lucky me, my days off fall just right.

Work is fine, it’s just something that makes me crazy because it takes up a major part of my life when I’d rather be doing something else. And spending an additional day at it really causes my free spirit to tail spin into the black hole of CHOKE, GAG, SPUTTER!

I’ve put more than a few million thoughts into the playing arena and what makes it spin, slide, topple, smooth out, and start over again. There are always new players coming in to take their turn at competing to be the best.

Some of the new players are prepared, having read countless books, newsgroups, stories, spent time sweating someone that will allow them to watch, standing on the rail watching games, playing at home games and the internet, and talking about the play of hands and the game with their friends or a peer. They’ve learned about the importance of bankroll, game selection, money management, and how to manage their attitude and they keep learning.

They also schedule their hours each week in a time slot that works for them, still have a social life, and go to the table with plenty of rest and armed to play. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s like an ad for a vitamin that gives you a healthy lifestyle. But that’s the way playing poker should be…put in it’s proper perspective, not where it controls you and you drown in the Bad Luck, Bad Card, Bad Dealer Whirlpool.

Some of the new players just come in to jam and try to ‘get lucky’. They start with bad habits. They don’t all have bad attitudes…just a few carry those with them everywhere they go. Some of these players are the most fun in a game and to deal to. They are fresh, untainted, there for the social factor and, yes, they want to win also but if they don’t, they don’t give a damn. They just want to be there.

What’s my point? New players should be gently nudged into the main stream of folding and acting in turn, welcomed and helped with game protocol but never chastised for playing a bad hand and winning the pot, nor should they be instructed on what to play and how to play it…truthfully some of them don’t give a damn about that either…the ones that do will eventually learn on their own by watching and listening. Don’t teach them to beat you at your own game, there are enough sharks lurking around to do that.

I listened to the 6s, in $15-$30 Holdem, make a comment to the guy next to him the other night, this is how it went:

The 1s was a tourist, stuck…he just had the look and very few chips in front of him with a few $100 bills tucked under the chips.

I slipped into the box, smiled at him and said, ‘hello’.

He smiled back and I knew he wasn’t a regular player because he eased the ‘tight lipped’ look long enough to smile.

The 1s called $15 and then a raise, with A-5 OS, heads up. The raiser was the Button.

An Ace, little, little, on the Flop. The 1s bet and got raised, he called.

The Turn was a middle card, bet by the Button, the 1s check/called.

The River a big card, the 1s check/called. The Button turned over A-9, the 9 played.

The 1s had the look of ‘I’m running so unlucky’ but never said a word. He dug out more cash.

The 6s started his commentary…”I can’t believe he called with A-5 offsuit…can you imagine, he called right up front”…laughter…”Wow!…what was he thinking the guy on the Button raised with?”

I’ve dealt to the 6s before, mostly $8-$16 and he always has to chatter box with the player next to him, no matter who it is.

I mouthed at him, ‘SHUT UP! Don’t say anything.’

The 6s got the picture but the 1s was flushed and squirming.

No one ever says anything to the asshole that throws his cards and has a fit and acts like he’s a pro so why say anything to the new guy that just wants to play?

This always seems to be the cycle of poker. Stick around, it just doesn’t get any better than this. NOT! If you’re going to open your mouth, put your brain in gear first and look at the overview!

Thursday, June 19, 2003

An interesting facet of poker, Shaun, a $15-$30 – $20-$40 – $40-$80 7 Card Stud player was in a five handed game when I tapped the dealer out. Shaun was in the 7s, he called the River in a three way action hand.

Hunmhai was dealing and even though she understands English, she still has problems with some sentences and phrases and has no idea what they mean. Believe me, I have had many conversations in the Help’s Hall with her, over the years, on what someone meant when they said, ‘blah, blah, blah!’

Shaun looked at her and said, “Protect the muck. I want to see all hands.”

He repeated the statement twice. The 1s, Marty, opened his cards and, Mike, the 2s, threw his hand into the muck. Hunmhai didn’t do anything other than wait for Shaun to fold or open his cards. Shaun had a little, fizz ball tiz…”I told you to protect the muck, I wanted to see the hands.”

She sat there. I knew she had no idea what he meant when he said, ‘protect the muck.’

He insisted that she call the Supervisor. I went to the office and told Kamell that they wanted a decision on table 17. Shaun explained everything to Kamell like this. “I told her to protect the muck. I wanted to see the called hands. She’s supposed to put her hand over the muck and keep the players from throwing their cards into it.”

I couldn’t even keep my mouth shut here, “There’s no dealer in this room, especially me, that’s going to put their hand over the muck. I’ve had player’s try to throw their cards through my chest. When they know someone wants to see their hand, they throw it harder to make sure it gets into the muck.”

Kamell informed Shaun that I had made a good point. Hunmhai jumped up and left the game, giving me a quick ‘thank you’ as she went by. I sat down, announced, “Time pot!” as Shaun still argued his point with Kamell.

Shaun didn’t ante, I gave him a yellow button, Marty gurgled and strutted, he had been loser and playing for the last 48 hours and had finally gotten even, Mike in the 4s said everyone should just shut up and play because he had not been doing well in the last few months and he really had to work at controlling his temper, Mike in the 2s said he was done, I dealt a few more hands and the damn game broke up.

Shaun sat there after everyone left and we went into a discussion. He first said that he had had a talk with Kamell a week or so before and Kamell had stated that he would bring up the fact that the dealer is supposed to protect the muck when a player wants to see a hand. Later that night that same night, Shaun asked a dealer if Kamell had brought it up and she said, “Yes.”

I wasn’t at that meeting so I don’t know what happened there. I told him again that I would never put my hand over the muck, for any reason. He said if he was a dealer that he would and he wouldn’t care if anyone threw cards into his hand.

I flatly told him he was crazy. That he had no idea of the mindset that he was dealing with in all the limits of the room and that I was not paid enough to throw myself over the muck just to make sure a player could see someone else’s cards.

He argued that it was rule. I stated that it was not a rule, it was a courtesy in the lower to mid limit games and that if we had a player that abused the courtesy, they would be told that they could not request to see any more hands.

We were not arguing, we were discussing. I like the fact that if he felt the dealer was incorrect, he wanted the Supervisor called so it could be straightened out. Lots of players want to argue and have a fit long after the time period has passed in which the problem could have been rectified if they had just insisted on calling a Supervisor.

I want to laugh at the fact that he thinks if he was a dealer, he would just do anything to get along with the players. He’s never seen the ‘overview’ because he plays one game, and limits that are closely related. He’s never slipped into my shirt pocket and followed me from limit to limit and game to game, nor had to deal with all the personalities and attitudes from all over the world. It’s easy to say what you would do when you’ve never been there.

He’s not stupid and he’s obviously a winning player. I know a few players that really dislike him simply because he’s very calm when he plays and he’s a winner. Funny…I never told him about that part.

I get a kick out of watching him progress through poker and life. We still laugh over the fact that one night, a sweet young, good looking thing, came up behind him and asked if she could watch him play. Some of her friends were playing in other games and she had no idea what was going on. He said, “Yes!”

Like a dumb butt, head buried in the sand, player, he didn’t know she was trying to put a move on him. I was dealing the game. She hinted about dancing…finally I almost shouted, “Why don’t you take her dancing, Shaun?”

He looked like a bambi in the headlights…realization started to settle in.

I continued with, “Light is open right now. Take her dancing.”

He did. The next time I saw him, he said he had a great time . He laughs now because he didn’t even get what she was hinting at and I almost had to slap him in the face to get him to move his game to the dance floor.

By the time I got done with him and the discussion of seeing player’s hands, I had him convinced that the dealer really did not know what he was talking about, (and she didn’t from a conversation I had with her the next day), and now he was saying the dealer should move the muck over so a player couldn’t discard into it, instead of saying we should put our hand over it. Hey, it’s not much but it’s a small move in the right direction.


I dealt to Norm R. tonight in $20-$40 7 Card Stud, just in case I haven’t mentioned him before, he’s been around since my early days at the Mirage. He’s extremely intelligent, witty in a twisted sort of way, and I get a huge kick out of him.

I screwed up with the antes in one hand. He asked, “Is the pot right?”

I knew as soon as he asked that it wasn’t. I counted it and said, “No!”

He told me that I had given the guy in the 4s change for a $5 chip but I left the chip lay in front of him. I started laughing as it was corrected. I said, “I knew when you asked that it was wrong.”

He asked, “Well what was I supposed to do?”

Me, “Exactly what you did.”

I couldn’t help but smile. As soon as a regular asks a question like that, something’s amiss and they know exactly what happened.

He got called for the $40-$80 game. He took a look. Marty was in the game. Norm said, “He’s been here for 24 hours.”

Me, “Must be Stucksville!”

Several players chuckled. Norm continued with, “He can’t keep up this pace.”

I dealt a few more hands and out of a clear blue sky, Norm said, “Twenty thousand leaks under the sea.”

I started laughing. It turned into a gut buster. Norm covered the lower half of his face so no one would know he was laughing too. He finally said, “That’s the title of Marty’s new book.”

I kept laughing. Then he said, “He looks like a Eunuch, you know!”

I never said a word but laughed even harder. When I left the game, I said, “Thanks everyone,” and to Norm, I finished with, “Thanks for making me laugh.”

He’s full of wonderful, little, surprise bursts of insight. All you have to do is pay attention.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I try to stay away from the ‘dealer/player tip wars’. Why you don’t or do tip is your business. Why I deal? I like the interaction with the players, the action, and the fact that people throw money into my pocket for something that I enjoy doing…great ain’t it?

What’s going on? Your musing…is the bitch in a wine drinking rant or just needs to BLOW UP?

The answer? All of the above. Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. First and foremost, I never…NEVER act like you owe me a tip. I never shrink, whenge, fling, flap, glare or do any stupid trick to make you think you’re supposed to tip me or that I’m expecting a tip. I try to make your playing experience as pleasant as possible, whether it’s your first time or the last day you’ll ever sit at a poker table, when you’re in my game.

Before we continue, one single thought, first and foremost, focused and imprinted on the world’s brain: Las Vegas is a tip industry. Not service, not hustle, not win or lose, but Las Vegas…founded on the basis of a tip. A gratuity. Greasing someone’s palm moves you into favor and first in line…that’s the way it is and always has been. I didn’t make those rules, they’re just there, written in stone, in a nameless cave somewhere.

So on to the rant…I sat down in a $15-$30 Holdem game. The 2s won a pot and threw me $2. ‘Thank you’, shuffle up and deal.

The 2s asked the players next to him what a proper tip was…he had been playing in CA.

Answers: “Some players never tip when they’re stuck.” “Some players tip $5.”

“Some players tip $.50”

“Some players tip $1.”

I looked at him as I dealt the next hand and simply said, “All the players tip me because I beat them up if they don’t.”

I got the appropriate laughter…we were off and running.

Now we back track for a little history. Don B., a $4-$8 Holdem player, has played in our games since the last few years of the Mirage Days, before we all moved to Bellagio. He sent me an email once, asking me if I thought there was a chance we would date…we appeared to have similar interests. Sorry but I have to lay the all cards on the table for this rant. I declined.

He’s stated, many times over the years, that I’m mistake free and the best dealer in the room. When I play in a game he’s in, he specifically tries to beat me. Don’t think I don’t love it because I do and he’s paid me off more than once by trying to run over me.

He tries to jump into any conversation that another player tries to engage me in and even tries to start conversation with me when I’m dealing. Truthfully, I wish he’d just go away.

A few days ago, I dealt to Don and Jarrod (Jarrod has a major attitude for a youngstger and is the subject of a previous post). I was pushing Barbara Jo and something had happened during her down.

About the 2nd hand I dealt, Don, his usual position is the 5s, leaned over to Jarrod in the 8s, and asked him what the exchange was with Barbara.

Jarrod went into the explanation that when he won several $10 pots, it irritated Barbara that he didn’t tip and that when he finally did flip out $1 and ask her to chop, she threw it at him. Hey, I’m not condoning that behavior or totally believing that that’s exactly what happened.

Don said, “If you want to go to management and complain, I will state that I was at the table and saw what happened.”

Christ! The Stone Stiff of the ages talking to Wonder Boy, that defies all the laws of etiquette. WOW! What a combo.

I said, “Do whatever you want, but talk about it away from the table.”

Neither one of them said another word.

Then the magic moment came…I dealt to Don a few nights later. $4-$8 Holdem…he was about the only one I knew in the game. Tourists, enchanted with gambling it up, held the other seats.

He was barricaded in his favorite fortress, the 5s. I pushed him three pots. He stated in an overly loud voice, “Now this is a dealer that’s never tried to hustle a tip out of me…going back to our earlier conversation,” as he threw out $1 and did the ‘chop’ sign on it.

He held the look of a person that just won the Pulitzer Prize for saving the homeless from themselves and not forcing the rest of humanity to look at them in their degenerated state.

Trying not to throw up or look like I wanted to drop kick him off of his chair, I asked, “Now why on Earth would I ever try to hustle you for a tip?”

I really wanted to say, “And look what it’s gotten me! I make $5 bucks a year off of you whether I need it or not.” Yes kids, he’s a total stiff.

He gave me the $.50 and said, “Well some of the other dealers in the room try to.”

I hate this part…I actually had to say ‘thank you’ with a straight face as I locked up the toke. I said, “Tipping is a courtesy, there’s no obligation to tip.”

He replied, “Well, I wish you’d teach your fellow dealers that.”

I countered with, “I will teach my fellow dealers that if you will agree to teach a few players, in this room, a few things.”

The 4s gave me the thumbs up, “Touché…she got you there!”

Don went into something that appeared to be a defense because he ‘never threw cards’ and I agreed…he never has. I finished with, “If you don’t tip, I really don’t give a shit! Stop talking about it and let’s just get into poker.”

That kind of squelched the whole subject and everyone else loosened up.

I have to go back over my thought on this whole thing.

1) If I met someone I was trying to impress and thought about dating, and they worked in a tip related industry, I wouldn’t stiff them. I might be overly crazy and throw them more money.

2) If someone is really good at their job and makes it easy for me to make money by not having to watch them or worry that they might break the game up by being an idiot, I would throw them more money.

3) If I was really trying to impress someone and they weren’t responding, I would just shut up and move on.

Perhaps I’m missing something here…the overview? As it stands, I probably make about $7 more a year off of Don than the other dealers…I figure $10 a year is tops for this guy.

Do I care if he tips or not? No! Do I wish he’d shut up? Yes! Do I ever hope he wins when I deal? No! The bottom line is that I don’t root for anyone to win or lose. But if it came down to heads up with Don and a tipper…

Come on, baby….

Monday, June 16, 2003

Years ago, when the Mirage first opened, I dealt to Joe R. and A.J. in the $75-$150 7 Card Stud games, every day it seemed, and I HATED it. At that time $75-$150 was about the biggest game we ever had running. Occasionally we had a bigger game that Doyle, Stu, Johnny, and the ‘high rollers’ played in but the norm was the $75-$150.

Joe sat in the 1 or the 8 seat and when he lost a few hands back to back, he would flip his cards over my arms so they’d land in the rack. If he was being judged at the Olympics, he’d probably get all 9’s because the cards always cleared my arms but stayed below my chin and all seven of them made the dive into the rack. I never liked to deal to him.

A few years later I wore my hair in a burgundy spike sporting a three inch strip of black that ran like a Mohawk from my forehead to the crown. Funniest part of it was that until I was dealing, under the lights, you would never know the strip of black was in my hair. Frank Cutrona, our Assistant Room Manager, told one of the secretaries in the office that a player had told him there was a dealer with two different colors of hair and Frank had no clue it was me, even though he saw me five days a week.

Joe teased me about my hair every time I went in to deal…”How would you like to go to bed with this one? You’d go to bed with a red head and wake up to a black head the next day.”

He’d laugh and I’d retort with something like, “You’d die in the first 10 minutes. I’m a race horse and you’re not equipped to handle that.”

He’d laugh harder.

His son, Chris, played $30-$60 and $20-$40 7 Card Stud every day and he was horrible to deal to. It took me some years of dealing to him before he figured out that I was just there to deal and not play games with him…we got along better as time passed and he got to where he acknowledged me when I sat down to deal or passed him away from the table.

I ran into Joe at the Gold Coast, we played $4-$8 Holdem together when his wife was at Bingo. He’d yell, “Spook!”

Mostly I ignored him.

Then he started calling me a witch when I dealt to him and he even went so far as to get a Porter’s Broom, (they’re short handled), and put it on the back of the chair when I was dealing. I started cracking up when he did it. I no longer disliked him…guess he wore me down.

One night as I was waiting to push into his game, he reached behind his chair and rubbed his hand up and down my calf a few times. I had on a skirt. He just chuckled over the fact that he got to ‘feel me up’ before I sat down. I laughed too. He was pretty damn audacious for his age, but I guess that’s why he got away with it.

Another time I walked up to deal his game and he had a whole wad of $100’s in his hands, counting away. When he saw me, he leaned back and said, “I had a dream about you last night.”

Me, “You did?”

“Yep, and I owe you a whole lot of money!”

He held out the wad of $100’s. I almost spit I laughed so hard.

I was really impressed with Joe when my youngest son, Darian, came into the room to see me. I happened to be by the table Joe was playing at and I took Darian over and introduced him to Joe.

Joe jumped right up out of the game, shook Darian’s hand, and visited with us for a few minutes. Most players wouldn’t leave their seat if the place was on fire. I felt Joe honored me with a compliment by standing up and stepping away from the table.

After we moved to Bellagio, Joe stopped playing for awhile. He had a stroke. Not long after that he lost his son, Chris. His wife hadn’t been well for a long time.

Joe went from being vibrant and active, walking everyday and busy, busy, busy…to old and frail, walking with a cane, almost over night. It was like watching the life being sucked out of a person. He still plays everyday, mostly $40-$80, and if I see him, I always go by and give him a little rub or pat on the shoulder. He loves it.

I dealt to Joe and A.J. in the same game again, a few times this week…after how many years?

A.J. hadn’t played a lot at Bellagio in the last few years and recently started again.

A.J. never gave me any kind of heat when I dealt to him although a lot of other dealers felt that he’s always mean and rude to them. As a matter of fact, the only two things that I ever clearly remember him saying to me was in the first few years I dealt to him. One was, “Deal my cards right here,” as in put them in close proximity to his chips, and “Always deal me in,” as in he wasn’t there to play the ‘If I wanted a hand, I would’ve anteed,’ game that a lot of players pull. He was there to play poker so if he didn’t ante, I made sure he wanted in/or out by checking with him.

A.J.’s wife, Marian, plays low limit 7 Card Stud and we’ve become ‘table friends’. She told me once at the Mirage, that all the high limit players loved me to deal because I just dealt the game instead of playing the idiot dealer game. She had to have heard that from A.J. which pays me a very high compliment.

A.J. has taken a stand in my defense many times over the last four to five years when a player starts whenging and whining because they are low card or they lost a pot.

A.J. takes a chiding bit of commentary and makes his point. It goes something like this, “Well who should she pick to be low then? Do you want her to stop dealing so you won’t be low? Do you think she cares if you tip her, there are other people that appreciate her dealing and do take care of her.”

And a few other queries and comments usually manage to shut the whining valve off.

A.J. never minces words with anyone so you always know exactly where you stand with him. He thanks me when I show him a courtesy as in bringing a chair for his wife, or looking behind me before I push out of the box, when he’s in the 1 or 8 seat, because he has a bothersome leg that he stretches out and I don’t want to hit his foot with my chair.

When we were at the Mirage, A.J. had a medical problem. The word at the table was that he had blockage in a vein in his neck.

The Dr.’s removed a vein from his leg to replace it and then found out that wasn’t the problem. The word was that A.J. went absolutely ballistic with and over the whole thing.

Another player said that wasn’t true at all, that A.J. had a heart transplant but his body rejected it because it had never had a heart before.

He did have a bandage on his neck so I’d have to go with something along the lines of the first ‘word’ at the table although the second one was funny as hell.

A.J. has also aged, along with Joe, but then so have I. They are a huge part of my Vegas history…might be they are an acquired taste…might be that I learned a lot about myself and consequently learned how to appreciate them.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

My first game was $4-$8 Holdem on table 23. John occupied the 1s. The first time the bet came around to him, I knew we were all in for a hell-u-va long session. He’s older, 70 by his count, and probably had 70 beers at last count.

His voice sounded like he was talking through a pile of mush that had been filled with molasses on a cold winter day in Montana. His bets and raises came in the same way. He knew where he was in the game…no doubt about that…he was just so damn s-l-o-w. I did everything I could to speed up the action and since he was calling and raising some of the bets in the dark, and winning, no one seemed to mind…they all knew they would get their money back if he stayed long enough.

He won a huge pot and I offered to help him stack his chips while he looked at his cards. He said, “Someone at the table might object to your helping me.”

Me, “Hell no they won’t, they just want to see the next hand.”

He then asked, “Is there any chance for you and me getting together?”

I laughed and said, “you’re way too young for me, Pardner.”

That’s when he sprang with the info about the age thing.

I finally called Viliawaun over, (chip runner extraordinaire), and told her that John had too much to drink and was in need of coffee. She notified Kamell.

Kamell came over and told John he was taking his beer and asked if John would be interested in coffee. John just went with it, said he was easy to get along with, and away we went, right to the next hand.

A little later, John asked, “Did that guy take my beer because he was afraid I’d take the whole place apart?”

We all got a chuckle out of that one but in the meantime I explained that the ‘guy’ took his beer because he was concerned for John’s sake. That made John happy and he jammed. Great game if you could stand the lulls while John looked at his cards and decided to bet or raise.

Marsha tapped me out. I gave her the low down. John had a strange, quizzical look on his face when he saw me standing by the next table instead of dealing to him.

I said, “She’s your new guardian angel. Take care of her.”

Someone at the table asked, “Has she been instructed?”

I replied, “Totally!” Big grin here!

My next game was a riot and half but it has to be a post for later. It would take too long to fill in all the details of the conversation and it’s half past my bed time. Nighty night!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Our little LemLem is back. She had a baby boy a few months ago and she’s back to work dealing two days of the week right now. She’s a beauty. She’s the kind of person that you just have to smile when you see her…she’s neat.


Jillian’s back for a short time, she’s playing poker, hopping and bopping, singing and jiving to the beat of her MP3 player…just like old times. I had to give her a little razzle dazzle tonight and tell her that I tried to have a ‘house rule’ made that she couldn’t sing or dance in her chair when she played poker.

She was in the 3s in an $8-$16 Holdem game and the 1 and 2s took off with her on one song…they couldn’t hear what she was listening to but they WENT WITH IT! It was funny.


I hit the $600-$1200 Mixed game again tonight. Pretty much the same crowd, except for Ralph…David G. was his replacement.

As soon as Eli saw me, he took off with, “Shaun cashed out and then came back to the table looking to see if he dropped a $500 chip last night, he was $500 short. He gave Linda $400. I told him to go find Linda.”

He was smiling when he said it but it sort of felt like the square needle because I’d gotten an overly large tip from Shaun last night…believe me these are few and far between, somewhere in the neighborhood of every three to four years.

Eli continued with, “Well, she did push him over $45,000 in a few hands. If she deals me $45,000 winner, I’m going to give her $500 just to beat Shaun.”

Shaun never said a word or looked up.

Jennifer jumped in, “If she deals me $45,000 winner, I’m going to give her $500.”

Eli, “You have to beat what Shaun gave her and I’ve already offered $500.”
Jennifer, “Ok! I’ll give her $525.”

I just laughed.

It’s a raffle ticket…exactly a raffle ticket. I have no idea who is going to win any hand and I never let myself get emotionally involved so I really don’t care. Yes, if I could choose someone that tipped over someone that didn’t tip, I would choose the tipper. I never have a choice so I quit thinking about it years ago. More than once, one of them has won more than $45,000 during my down…don’t even think for one millisecond that they considered tipping me $500…it’s more like $1 to $2 or maybe $5 when I leave the game. Shaun is the exception to the high limit rule.

No one did anything spectacular, Jennifer left about half way through my down, Chau came in as a new player, I got pushed.

The rest of the night was gamble, gamble, gamble. An $8-$16 Holdem game on table 15 was hysterical but trying to describe it would destroy the beauty of the threads of the tapestry that held it together.

Another hot Vegas day looming ahead and the quiet, dark, peace of my bed awaits.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

It’s really hard to paint the perfect picture of a poker room and have everyone grasp exactly what you’re trying to say. One night a young man approached me and asked if he swore at me if I would write about him here. It’s funny in the sense that I feel he really didn’t have a clue as to what I’m actually writing about. If I have to explain that to everyone, then no one has a clue.

I get enough fan mail through the Internet though that I know most of you really do get the picture. That’s what makes it all worthwhile to me…knowing that a lot of you relate and see the same personalities and events where you play poker that I spend my working hours with here in Vegas.

I get bashed every now and then because someone thinks I hate players…that is the most untrue statement I’ve ever heard. Players remind me of me and I certainly don’t hate myself…the human element is the meat of the whole picture…so here’s the picture.

Ho, one of our long time players, from the days of the Mirage, had a stroke some years ago and is paralyzed down most of the right side of his body. He’s never mean but sometimes ‘pokes’ at me because I dealt him off or I haven’t given him a winner or some such nonsense. He likes to play and sometimes he can jam it up faster and harder than a 10 year old kid trying to light the most firecrackers under the bleachers on the 4th of July. He plays only $15-$30 or $30-$60 Holdem now but used to play 7 Card Stud.

Tonight I started on first break. I wheeled out of the room on my way to the Help’s Hall when I heard, “Linda!”

I looked but didn’t see anyone. Then as I started to move off, “Linda!!!” and I saw Ho sitting at one of the poker machines. I went back.

He wanted me to roll up the sleeves of his jean jacket. I did and also buttoned them. He wasn’t sure about the buttoning because he didn’t think he could get them off when he got home…I told him if he wanted, later in the night, I’d unbutton them. I checked with him a few hours later and the cuffs were all cool…then about midnight, I dealt to him in a $15-$30 Holdem game.

During my down, his name was finally called for $30-$60. He told me was going home, since 6:30, he motioned to his sleeves, he’d been waiting for a seat in $30-$60 and now it was too late. I couldn’t help but laugh and wish him a goodnight.


I called Doug, the Card Room Manager, today and spoke with him about my Mike D. incident last week. Doug sent a memo to all the supervisors. Suzie was my supervisor tonight.

She knew, before I went to tell her, that I would be dealing the game that Mike was playing in within an hour. She had already spoken to him about my dealing through the game.

Honestly, for the first time in my entire career of dealing to Mike, he never flipped a card, folded out of turn, glared or pitched, or flipped his bring-in up into the air. It was heaven.

The down was totally calm and quiet…just the way I like it…I deal, you play.


I hit the $600-$1200 mixed game late in the night on table 1. Shaun – 1s, David B. – 2s, Eli E. – 3s, Ralph – 4s, Jim – 5s, Jennifer, 6s, Jim G. – 7s, Emir – 8s. I know a lot of dealers hate to deal this game but this is sometimes where I have the most fun.

The outgoing dealer was leaving the box and had her butt up out of the chair. Shaun set a green bird ($25 chip) by the rack and asked for change and she either didn’t hear him or didn’t want to stop. She was moving away from the table, I’m sitting down and Shaun reached into the rack and took out five, $5 chips, cleared his hand to show that was all he took, and I made a motion at slapping his hand and asked, “Are you trying to get me fired?”

He is extremely easy to get along with and we have HISTORY, even away from the poker room…no, nothing erotic or wild so don’t get your hopes up. He laughed and handed one of the $5 chips to the outgoing dealer.

Eli said he would like to get me fired.

I innocently looked at him and asked, “Me?”

He said, “Yes!” Hey…he was kidding.

I said, “Then buy the place and fire me.”

Emir asked Ely, “You can do that…buy the place?”

Eli and his wife were both chuckling.

David cashed out shortly after I sat down. Jennifer played a few hands and exchanged phone #’s with Emir…someone said something about swearing and she said, “I never say things like that except when I’m calling this dealer names.”

Me, “Me? You never call me names.”

She gave me the bratty girl look and said, “I know I don’t, I like you too much.” See, I do have friends in high places.

She left the game shortly after that and Shaun teased her about taking all of her ‘society’ chips and getting the hell out of there.

Emir got a phone call and he was going to have to leave. He’s a Dr. and somewhere in the city a woman was having a baby…probably more than one but this one he would attend to the birth.

Shaun and Emir had been jamming, along with Ralph and Eli in intermittent bursts, but mostly Ralph, Shaun, and Eli.

Shaun was on a rusher and picked up several huge pots back to back. Ralph snipped the cards so hard I almost didn’t catch them with my right elbow but the block was in effect and I stopped them. The next hand he snipped them at me again and I had to field one of them with my stomach. I said, “Slow them down, Ralph.”

He mumbled something like, ‘don’t talk to me.’ He looked like the Grim Reaper had been hunting him for days and rest and food were out of the question. In other words, he looked stuck and he got stucker when Shaun went on the rush in Deuce to 7 Triple Draw Low.

Emir left. The game was down to five players when Shaun counted up and said a, “Holy shit!” type of thing. He’d been down around $45,000 and he was even.

To me he said, “I don’t think anyone here realizes the bond you and I have.”

I couldn’t help but agree. He was $400 winner and he gave it to me. Don’t think I didn’t do a few YIPPEES, WOO HOOS, JUMP UP AND DOWN WHILE I’M DEALING…I did.

Jimmy G. made the comment to Shaun that he was overly generous. Shaun replied with, “She’s my girl.”

Shaun looked at one last hand and left. Jimmy asked Shaun where he could fill out an application.

I dealt a few more hands and got pushed. What a bonus for me…Shaun not only made my night, he made my week.


My next game was $30-$60 Holdem and it was a lot of fun. Young was in the game. He’s a story all by himself but I’m bushed. Another time.