Friday, August 29, 2003

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.


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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Just when you think the situation couldn’t get any more ridiculous…

Karate Don and Marty C. in the same game, $40-$80 Stud. Don in the 1s and Marty in the 8s. Primal Scream….arghhhhaieeeeee!!! Stereo, it hurts in two places at once.

Marty raises the first hand and wins the pot. Immediate dealer orientation begins, “The curse is off, Linda, five hands before and this one. What’s going on? The curse is off!”

The conversation in my right ear never stops, it’s a ‘walk through, talk through’ every hand and it’s directed at me, as if I’m now important and a very integral part of the game and not the ‘curse, the witch, and sometimes bitch’.

The action goes crazy between the 2s, 6s, and Marty. Marty wins a huge, huge, huge pot with trip 8’s. He drew out…ok, nothing stated here about drawing out, it happens all the time. But he was so damn glad he won the pot that he went on and on and on and on, commenting and gloating until Karate Don jumped on him about ‘shutting up’.

Marty jumped down Don’s throat, sliding around his wind pipe two or three times before he came back up, and informed Don that Don had been 86’d, six or seven times, and that he, Marty, had never been 86’d, just talked to by management, and therefore Don should, “Shut UP!”

Don rebelled and argued back and forth with Marty about Marty’s behavior when he won a pot and how Marty never shut up. And out of nowhere, as if a silent alarm had gone off, Kamell, the Swing Supervisor, tapped Marty on the shoulder and told him he wanted to talk to Marty away from the table and told me to put a button in front of Marty and deal him out.

Everyone was in shock. What had Marty done that was so out of the ordinary this time? The players all queried back and forth to each other, wondering what Marty was being called on the carpet for, but they were also agreeing with each other that Don was right in telling Marty to shut up.

Found out later it was a comment he’d made to the cocktail waitress and Marty was forced to apologize to her or he was leaving the room for the night. She’s Vietnamese and he’d said something intelligent like, “We had to kill 200,000 of your kind so you could come to America!” That’s not a direct quote…but it’s close. He thought he was being funny.

He kept telling me that he wasn’t crazy and that he wasn’t all bad, it’s just that I never dealt him a winner for five years, repeat, repeat, repeat…

Let me have one more primal scream…


Heard one I loved: Save your breath, buddy! You’re going to need it to blow up your date.
Umhhnnn! Maybe I should lay that one on some of the Neanderthals.

August 26, 03. A little twist to Deuce to 7…I didn’t know the answer but then neither did the Brush, Tony…most play of the high limit games happens with very little stress, the players know what wins and the dealer never has to get involved. At the end of my down, after raise-raise-raise on every draw, three players checked on the River. Fernando turned over a wheel, A-2-3-4-5, Mike W. and Jimmy G. were going back and forth with something like, “How big is your pair?” and shuffling their cards before turning them in.

Lee, in the 7s, yelled, “That’s a straight! He’s got a straight!” pointing to Hernando’s hand. “He can’t win!”

Mike threw his hand away and Jimmy turned his up, showing a pair of 7’s, and questioned, “Is that right? Then I win.”

I sat there like a dumb box of rocks, not sure what the hell was right or wrong until Mike W. rescued me, “Come on…the best hand has to win the money and the Ace is high. He doesn’t have a straight.”

I scooped up Jimmy’s hand and mucked it and as I was pushing the pot, Tony was being questioned by Jimmy about the order of the hand. Jimmy never had a fit when I took his hand so I’m sure he knew Mike was 100% with his statement. Lee kept spouting, “He’s got a straight!” and Tony went to check with the Shift Supervisor just to make sure.

I stopped briefly by Mike and thanked him for the help as I was leaving the game. Mike told me he had Jimmy beat and would’ve turned his hand over if Hernando had a straight.

And yes, the bells and whistles went off in my head as soon as Mike stated that the Ace is always high. Nothing like a little excitement towards the end of the night.


But back to the beginning of my shift…Chip R. and Eli E. were playing heads up when I came into the room. I sat down beside Chip for a minute to say ‘hello’. He’s always got a big smile and ‘hello’ for me which I truly appreciate.

It had been about two months since I’d seen him and I knew he’d made the annual trip up to Flathead Lake in Montana, not far from where I used to live. He looked great…tanned and relaxed.

I asked about the trip and he said it was fantastic, there were over 100 of them up there and they had Wolf Gang Puck cooking for them. The over ‘100 crew’ means the High Limit Usual Suspects and their family and friends. They go to play golf, probably some poker, and hang out where there are a million stars in the sky and the air is clean and quiet and life is laid back and stress free. Hey, maybe they’ll invite me some day. 🙂

Monday, August 25, 2003

I made it! I was starting to wonder, about 1 a.m.ish, if I could drag through the next two hours and finish my first day back in the box. I’ve been on the ‘up at 6:30 – 7 a.m. and hit the hay/tent/air mattress by 10 p.m.’ schedule for three weeks and the first week back is going to be a little bit tough since my whole sleep/wake schedule is changed and rearranged. Didn’t even drop the deck or do anything retarded that would cause a scene and end up with player or dealer despair.

A friend of mine from Florida, Ralph, was in the room playing in $8-$16 Holdem next to the table I was dead spreading, and he came over for a visit. Ralph plays anything from $8-$16, $15-$30, to $30-$60.

Freddie Deeb, (the WPT watchers know him as Kassem Deeb), was in the high limit area talking to the players on Table 7 when Ralph sat down to visit with me. Ralph said that he told his friends back home that he had played poker with ‘Deeb’ and they wouldn’t believe him. He told them he’d played poker with Scotty Nguyen also and they didn’t believe that either. He also brought up the fact that if you look around the room, at any given time, you see players that are featured on the television spotlights in the WSOP and on the WPT.

He’s right. And you do play with them in different limits. I’ve played with Scotty also in $10-$20 games at the Mirage. Some of these ‘super stars’ get broke and they play lower until things turn around. Sometimes there is no ‘high’ game in the room and they play lower for that reason. You just never know who you’re going to brush elbows with on any given day at Bellagio.

Ralph and I met about five years ago, while playing $4-$8 Holdem, and have been friends every since; swapping emails from time to time, keeping in touch with events about our lives, kids, grandkids, and life in general outside of poker. He pops in three to four times a year and it’s always a pleasure for me to see him giving me the big smiling, ‘it’s so damn good to see you look’ and wave.

I got rerouted into a $4-$8 Holdem game a few minutes later. One of the players, don’t even know his name, comes in occasionally, always drunk and semi mean mood ugly, (depends entirely on his winning and losing), usually ends up broke or having a ‘tiz’ and is forced to depart the plush surroundings of our room, was in the 2s.

He acted as if he didn’t know my name, said he’d never seen me before, as he slammed chips into the pot and won the first three to four hands he played, then stated, “Isn’t she beautiful! I’ve known her for 20 years and 15 years ago I asked her to marry me but she wouldn’t!”

Not to worry…the real world opened up and shoved him out of the twilight zone he spends most of his time in…he lost the next few hands after playing one which started with five way action, max raises pre-flop/flop, and went to heads up on the Turn. He put the other player, holding A-A, on a flush draw and they put in $56 apiece. He called the bet on the River as he still thought J-9 was good, he’d flopped a pair of Jacks. Huge pot, huge loss in that limit.

Then he threw his cards into the muck and muttered something that was akin to stating I wasn’t even human. I couldn’t distinguish what he said or I might have called the Floor Person on him. See why I didn’t marry this lunatic!!!!! 🙂


On another note, I had the thought…it’s on the latest post on the Discussion Page…that it might be fun and is very feasible to see if some of us couldn’t get together in a weekly chat session. My choice is MSN Messenger because it’s so easy to conference and video conference in. Time would be the toughest part, getting a time that would work for everyone interested. If…big IF…any of you are interested, please send me an email and let me know your chat ID, and the dates/times that are best for you.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

B-l-u-e M-o-n-d-a-y! Tomorrow’s “D” day. Deal Day for those of you that don’t get it! I’m going back to the battle of the green felt after three blissful weeks of total escape from the real world. Real World? Umnnhhhh….

It never ceases to amaze me how often I run into a poker player in the least likely place…200 miles out of Vegas, on my way home, around 5 p.m., I pulled over for gas and a pit stop in a little spot that isn’t even on the map. Walked into the establishment and ran into Lyle Berman…he was just leaving Vegas. He told me I sure looked different when I dealt.

Well, no kidding! I was in the veg and grunge mode and had been out camping for two weeks. We went our separate ways and I couldn’t help but chuckle and wonder what the odds were that I would run into him there, where I never expected to be and I’m sure it wasn’t a destination point for him either.

My camping trip was great except for two things; no campfires and my Uncle Lee didn’t make it.

The whole Northwest and possibly the whole USA is on fire alert, extreme fire warnings. Yes, we still could cook using a propane stove or barbecue…if we hadn’t been able to, how could we have shared all the wonderful food and time together creating it?

Lee had to make the trip from Amarillo by himself if he came. We argued with him that he should fly into Spokane and we’d pick him up but he wanted to drive his truck with a small camper behind it. He searched everywhere for someone that would make the trip with him, he would’ve paid them to drive, but he couldn’t find anyone. The rest of us even tried to brainstorm someone in our group that could fly to Amarillo and drive him up, spend the time at the reunion, drive Lee back and then fly back home but no one could do it.

He’s 76 and having a few health problems and decided that he’d better not make the drive alone. His campsite was reserved and right by mine, it was sad to see it setting there empty after spending the last reunion with him.

We played poker, briefly, on the last two nights that most of the family was there and it just wasn’t the same without Uncle Lee…maybe next year.

Anyway time to think about work. WORK!!!! ARGHHHHH!!! Choke and gasp. I’ve decided I would make a great retired person, just can’t get there from here.
More news coming….

Friday, August 01, 2003

This is it for two weeks at least, maybe closer to three…the annual, festive, family rendezvous is at hand. I instantly turn into a food grazing, wine drinking, camp slut. No computers, no city lights, no traffic, no noise and confusion…oh my…how will I ever cope? Just hide and watch, my friend, and you’ll see how easy it is to go from the glamour and glitz of Bellagio’s world renowned Poker Room to a plush tent condo, that will sleep about 8, set up under 60 foot pines, light breezes that tease the senses, carrying the drifting aroma of campfires and cooking food, sun filtering through the pines by day and moonlight by night, a small lake a few hundred yards away, a bath house with hot showers and toilets just 50 feet away from the condo, and the rest of the family nestled into seven other campsites around mine…a village filled with family, young and old, bound to each other by blood and brought together by love and friendship…wah-lah! Magic!!!!

But before I drive off to Wonderland and the Magic, let me give you a teaser to keep you interested until my return.

Marvel of marvels, Sam G., the King of Railbirds, spent most of the night searching and scouting his stomping grounds, looking for the softest touch, the most likely to give him a buy-in into any game…it took him about six hours but he finally found one. Sam managed to snag a buy-in into the $40-$80 7 Card Stud game I was dealing. He chortled and laughed, talked it up like he didn’t have a care in the world, tried to chummy it up with Kim, AKA The Dragon Lady (yes, I deal to her all the time), she basically ignored him, and when his sponsor walked over, Sam went into, “What’s that game up on top? Maybe we should see about getting into that one, they look easy….”

He was still in the $40-$80 when I left, his sponsor must not have seen it the same way Sam did.


$15-$30 Stud, short handed. A tourist sat down in the 7s and I asked if he wanted chips. He said he wanted to watch. His English was very poor and I really have no idea what language he spoke. I said, “Ok!”

After five or six hands, I asked if he wanted to play. He shook his head ‘no’ and left the table but returned a few minutes later with $150 and took the 7s. He was, of course, low the first hand. Between myself and the four other players, we explained that he had to put $5 out because he was low.

He watched everyone and everything that was going on. A few hands later, he was low again and opened for $15. He got one caller and they ended up at the River with a few checks and a few bets. He showed down K-7-5C as his starting cards and ended up with K High Zip. He still called a $30 bet on the River even though he couldn’t beat the other player’s board.

It was obvious that he really knew very little about the game and what he was doing but he was damn cheerful and patiently waited while I gave him hand signals and spoke so he knew how much to put out or when it was his turn to throw his hand away. He got the ‘check’ motion figured out pretty fast and wasn’t hard to get along with at all, just NEW.

Finally he ended up heads up with the 1s. The 1s made Aces up and the 7s made a five high straight with two pair…he started with the low card and a pair of deuces, then paired treys and backed into the straight. He was cute. When he turned his hand up, he was very concerned because he didn’t know if the Ace played for high or low or for both. He motioned at his cards, “It’s ok?”

I said, “Yes,” and pushed him the pot.

The 1s started grumbling, “See, I hate to play against people that don’t know what they’re doing…no one else would’ve called me with his hand…they beat you every time.”

I turned my head to him, so the 7s wouldn’t hear me and said, “He’s new. It’s obvious he’s just learning the game.”

1s, “That’s what I mean. He shouldn’t have even been in the hand…we need to ‘run’ him out of the game.”

I tried the gentle approach, “You’re really supposed to like having him in the game and making those calls.”

1s, “Not when they’re beating me, I don’t want them in the game.”

A few more hands went by and the 1s kept grumbling, rehashing the beat he’d taken. Vinny S. was in the 4s. Vinny was paying attention…he’s in a post from last year, very good for the game as a stable, solid player. Always easy going, takes his beats with his wins and never whines or has a fit, always friendly and easy to deal to…love that guy.

The 1s looked at Vinny and said, “We need to run him out of the game.”

Vinny looked directly at the 1s and said, “I’d rather you didn’t do that.”

I opened my big mouth and said, “I totally agree with you,” to Vinny.

I got pushed a minute later. I took an extra second to sit in the empty seat by the ‘new’ guy and by spreading my hands ‘up’ for the up cards and ‘down’ for the cards, I managed to explain the Big Bet option when a pair showed in four cards. He was smiley and happy and had won about $250 during my down. He may have given it all back or bought more after I left, I never looked back as the night wore on.

The amazing thing about this whole exchange is that we need new players in the games. They don’t need to be run out of the game just because they won a pot and really didn’t know what they were doing. They don’t need comments about their play or a lecture shoved in their face when they are stacking the pot. They are trying to win also and shouldn’t be expected to ‘mail in a check’ so the regular can win…and by the way, the 1s was not a local.

Also, in a short handed game, under most circumstances, the low card bring in would call a raise if they had a pair so the 7s was never out of line with his play of the hand.


The Archie K. story. Pretty much everyone has heard of the tale of his running $10,000 up into over $34,000,000 and losing it back; buying only a car before he sent the cash on it’s way, back to the sources it came from.

A guy in the 10s of an $8-$16 Holdem game kept telling everyone tales about Archie and stated that he was Archie’s good friend and had been for years. He said a few weeks ago Archie borrowed $10,000 from someone that’s a ‘name brand’…been around Vegas a long time, in the finance business…you get the picture.

Archie took the $10,000 to the Tropicana and ran it into $650,000 shooting craps. He went back to the guy, gave him $300,000 of it and went on his way…for about 10 hours. Then he was calling the guy back to borrow again because he was BUSTED!

Have no idea how true the story is but having dealt to Archie for years and listening to other tales about him and things he himself has said, I’d believe it really did happen.

On that note, I’m a run away. Take care, stay well and healthy, and remember…the new guy wants to win too! 🙂