Aruba/Ultimate Bet – 2004 – Page 2

The 26th was the first day of the Championship Event, Day 1, Flight 1. My first table found me dealing to Howard Lederer in the 2s and Prahlad Freidman in the 10s.

Yes, there were eight other players there too. As a matter of fact, the 6s asked me if I was ‘Linda from PokerWorks’ and I found out his name is Joe and he lives in Santa Cruz. Nice! He was very quiet but so would I be if I was in a tournament facing off with Howard.

Prahlad has placed in our Bellagio tournaments and is one of those people that has an incredibly infectious smile and is always happy…makes me smile just to see him. The players were on a break when I entered the dealer’s box, the tournament resumed, I shuffled and dealt the first hand, Prahlad was absent from his seat and the Button. Just before the action got to him, he raced in and jumped into his chair, looked at his hand, raised it, got one caller, won the pot on the Flop with a bet, and asked me if it was the second hand. I told him it was the first. He’d gone out and jumped in the ocean when the break started…yup…he was soaked. What a life, huh?

The last hand I dealt ended up heads-up with Howard and Prahlad. I believe Prahlad was the Button and Howard the Big Blind but I could be mistaken. Prahlad put in a sizeable raise and Howard went all-in. Prahlad thought about it briefly and called…he had more chips than Howard. Howard turned over A-J Off and Prahlad turned over 8-8. The Flop and Turn had Prahlad winning but a lonely little Ace slipped off on the River giving Howard a breath of fresh air.

One of the things I really enjoy about dealing this tournament is that fact that the players aren’t whining and having a fit when they take a beat or get knocked out of the tournament. I only ran into one of those and he’s an up and coming post. Most of them are internet players and they don’t know how to throw cards or hurl insults…not that online players don’t hurl plenty of chat insults and profanity, some of them are completely idiotic and shameless when they take a beat…but in this tournament, the general order of play is very civil and fun.

Another part of this tournament that’s great for me, Greg Pierson, the CEO of the software company that runs the Ultimate Bet poker game always comes around to check on the dealers and thank us all for being there and the good job we are doing. When he hit the tournament area last year and went from dealer to dealer, thanking them, got me to me, and thanked me for being there, I had no idea who he was…I knew I’d seen him before, possibly Bellagio or somewhere but didn’t know who/why he was there. Now I know – and it makes it even better that he plays at Bellagio off and on during the year and always stop to say ‘hello’ when he sees me.

My thought? Thank you for thanking me, Greg. The world should spend more time being happy and thankful…the hell with that grouchy stuff.

I spotted Russ Hamilton when I came in to work one evening. He was visiting and moving around the main tournament event area. I raced over to tell him that I just finished a screenplay and Ben Affleck had a bit part in it as himself…I should die laughing here but it’s true.
Russ told me if I got the screenplay to him, he’d make sure Ben got it. Hell YES! When I got the E/O that night I took it directly to the Radisson and left it with the Bellman. Russ told me later that it might be two weeks but he would make sure Ben got it. Damn it, Ben! No phone call yet? *smile*

The 27th – Championship Event 1, Flight 2, found me dealing to John Juanda. He was in the 9s and pretty frisky. For me to state how the action went in the game and the hands, I cannot, I only know that he put in raises and picked up several pots because that kid doesn’t sit around and wait for a hand…he picks his spots and jumps head first into the ‘chip wars’ leaving caution and sense of reason to those that can’t keep up with him. He ended up in one hand with J-J, raised it, and got one caller – the 2s – heads-up. The Flop contained one skinny, little Ace. John made a marginal bet, his opponent raised all-in and had John more than covered. John called. His opponent held A-Q. A Jack popped off on the Turn. John brought home the spoils from the Chip Wars. And had more ammo for the next battle.

I landed in a game with Layne Flack and Phil Laak AKA The Unibomber. Layne was in the 2s and landed in his seat just after the tournament break ended. We exchanged ‘hellos’ and I couldn’t help but almost chuckle every time I looked at him. He had a huge grin when he looked at me and I asked him who was bringing him the beer this year. Last year he had someone bringing it in by the dozen in a bucket of ice. And he was passing it out to anyone that wanted one…jumping up from his seat from time to time to hand them out. Not this year though…nothing alcoholic anywhere around him.

Finally I asked, “Where’ve you been?”

He replied that he’d been in ‘rehab’ for 30 days.

I exclaimed, “No Way!”

He reaffirmed it and I said, “Ok. No more questions.”

The 1s put in a few raises pre-flop and each time he did, he put on his sunglasses, AFTER he raised it. Phil was in the 5s and he pointed out the fact – the sunglasses go on after the raise. Phil stated that it was a nice move.

The 1s looked like a fairly new player…hell, maybe he didn’t know Phil is a ‘name brand’ player but it appeared to me that he beamed a little brighter after that.

Layne was pretty quiet during this down and didn’t do much, verbally or with chips. I heard at the Awards Banquet that he’d made some major changes in his life lately. Good for him! It’s so hard to overcome yourself and make the first move .

My next game had Annie Duke and Chris Ferguson in it. These tables were filled with pros. I wondered if most of the online players had any idea of what they were up against in these games…not only did they have to fade the transition of going to Brick and Mortar play where they faced down their opponents, had to fold in turn, and looked at a lot less hands an hour – they were playing against the top players in the world.

Some where in here, I dealt to David from Canada again. *David, I edited the other post*. He was funny and chipper as usual. He wanted to know if I was going leave him on his own against all these players or if I was going to help him out…maybe not in those words but the meaning was there. We both laughed on that one. I told him, “No! You’re on your own.”

I was still on the E/O (Early Out), every time I went in to work, and that’s exactly what happened here. I went…out into the luscious night air, drinking in the humidity and warmth, humble in the fact that I was there and life was good!

Somewhere in here, Phil Helmuth waltzed through the room. Jack came over the mike and announced, “For any of you that want an autograph or want to discuss anything about poker, Phil has plenty of time now.”
Ouch! It meant he was busted out of the tournament. But Phil took it all with a smile as the whole room cracked up.

The 29th, Championship Event Day 1, Flight 3. *Begin Edit* We had two rooms of tables and dealers/players. One room hosted all the satellites and buy-in tournaments and the other room hosted the main event. I started in the Championship Event, dealt to Marcel Luske and Mike Matusow in the same game. Marcel went ‘bust’ during my deal as he tried to run over A-A with the A-2 of Clubs. Debbie Burkhead held the Aces that sent Marcel out of the tournament.

David Oppenheimer was at my next table and as soon as he told the players I was the best dealer, I made an ante mistake. For the life of me, I don’t know how or where but we were short one ante and I had to call for a decision. Jack McClelland appeared and summed it up as ‘it’s too late now’. Shortly after that this game was broken and the players sent to fill other empty seats and I was on my way to the buy-in tournament room.*End Edit*

I know the majority of the dealers, including myself, never had a problem with any of the players and as far as I know, there were very few incidences where a Supervisor had to be called for dealer or player abuse (player to player abuse). I ran into all of it in the few short hours I dealt during this shift and the following night.

The first colossal incident came when I entered a $540 buy-in NLH tournament event and Melissa was playing in it. I’ve never seen Melissa out of line or irritated but she definitely appeared to be both…not with me. She’s always gracious and treats me with courtesy and respect. I would just have to surmise that she was having an unusually bad day…and I’ve been guilty of them too so this isn’t judgmental, just the way it came down.

The 3s was a well put together, healthy guy with an accent…maybe French but I really lose my ability to distinguish who’s from where/nationality, etc. Three females in the game, 5s, Melissa – 6s, and the 7s.

Towards the end of my down, the 3s put in a small raise pre-flop, the 4s folded, the 5s went all-in, Melissa folded, the 7s went all-in and had the 5s covered. Everyone folded to the 3s and he contemplated the bets and the raisers. He was taking a little extra time but nothing that would have been earth shattering according to NLH standards. Finally he exclaimed, “I have the opportunity to take two ladies out at once!” as he shuffled his cards back and forth and looked at the raisers.

Melissa stood up with, “You piece of shit! Make up your mind,” and walked to the table next to us to visit with a friend. She returned within a few seconds and stated that she wanted ‘the clock’ put on him.

He was flabbergasted. He asked the 5s and the 7s if he had offended them in anyway, they responded with a positive “NO!” He wanted me to call the Floor because he didn’t appreciate Melissa calling him a piece of shit and she wanted me to call the Floor to put ‘the clock’ on him. I called for a decision.

The person that answered my call is the subject of another post back about a year or so ago. At that time this person specifically requested that I NEVER use their name again on my website and had a heated discussion with me about infringing on everyone’s rights by writing about them here. Call me stupid, call me neanderthal, but…if you’re in the poker world today, you are either being photographed or written about so get used to it. And if you look bad, maybe you should change what you’re doing. But since I have to cross paths with this person at Bellagio…I’m giving an alias, hence known as FCF.

I explained the whole situation to FCF over my right shoulder and after I finished, the 10s stated to FCF, “She really was totally out of line with her statement,” referring to Melissa.

While I was explaining the situation, Melissa was still demanding the time clock be put on the 3s and stated that she didn’t like the way he treated women. The 3s was still verbally defiant that she had called him a piece of shit.

FCF handled it all like something like this, “Ok! Everyone has to behave now.”

Wow! That takes care of it.

I finished the hand with the 5s and the 7s heads-up as the 3s folded. If I remember correctly, the 5s had Q-Q and the 7s had 10-10. Take it 7s. The 5s left quietly.

I got pushed. I’ll admit I was shaking my head a little bit over that decision. If a man had called a woman a name, there would’ve been hell to pay…why is it not the same standard for women?

In the meantime, I hit the beach every a.m. around 5:30-6:00. The sky started to split open with light and beauty around 6:20 so I had a head start on it as I cavorted down the beach, marveling at the moist air, the strength God had graced me with in this body that’s carried me a million miles and graciously helped me escape from a million cliff hangers in the poker world…as in being mechanically graced and mentally quick and cognizant of situations and how to handle them, and given me the strength to return each time I had been bitten by The Big Burn Out Bug. If I hadn’t overcome that Bug, I wouldn’t be here now.
After the dance with dawn, the surf, and sand, I raced upstairs for my suit so I could swim with some of the locals in the quiet, gentle surf. They warned me about walking by myself in the early a.m. Hell…do they know I live in Las Vegas? I just went with their tales and thanked them for thinking of me. Then the pool, dressed and the breakfast buffet by 8 a.m. and then off to sleep a few hours. Sweet!

The Wyndham also provides a free internet hub. A few of us have not been able to log on with our wireless network cards and I finally gave up trying to figure out why. I went to the Concierge with the thought of finding a computer shop on the island where I could buy a new one. Yup! I’m a computer geekette, junkie, sicko, that has to have my internet access and I was going into total withdrawal. The lady I spoke with really didn’t understand me but fortunately Edgar was walking by and she called him over. He takes care of the computers for the hotel and he said he’d had a few other guests with the same problem. It was my network card…the same one the other guests had. He rented a card to me for the duration of my stay and set it up within five minutes. Yes, there’s a healthy fee if I leave the island with the card, but how can you beat a deal like this. Great service, I got what I wanted for very little cash, and I’m a very happy kid right this minute.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

My next day of dealing, which I believe was the 25th, consisted of two deadspreads and Suzie asked me and Grace if we wanted to go deal live games at the Excelsior Casino. The Excelsior is in the Holiday Inn. The Ultimate Bet Tournaments were held in the Ballroom at the Holiday last year and had nothing to do with the poker room in the Excelsior. So…we said “Yes!”

We figured the worst that could happen is that we could get there, not deal, and leave when we felt like it or get there, deal, and still leave when we felt like it…after all, we had no obligation to anyone and weren’t under contract with anyone other than Ultimate Bet. The Excelsior was going to be hosting a ‘big’ live game later in the night and that was one of the reasons that some of us were asked to go.

We walked the beach side to the Holiday, taking our time, and went in and introduced ourselves to Marta, the poker room manager. She was extremely busy and very friendly, asking us to take a seat in the back and relax for a few minutes because she had to put her dealers in live games before she could/would do anything with us. We accepted and relaxed at two empty tables in the back of the room. Several dealers that were in our group were now playing in a game next to us. Michael, the Casino owner, came over and introduced himself to us. He told us that all the dealers in the casino had to share their tips, poker/pit, etc. We were asked to leave all of our tips in the center tube in the rack and write down how much we made each down, we would be compensated for them when we were done for the night but the tips in the rack would be picked up every hour and put into boxes for dividing between the crew later. We agreed.

Within a half hour, Marta started a $5-$10 spread limit Holdem game at the table I was at. It was easy to deal and quite active, lots of money slamming into the pots. Grace ended up going into the ballroom to deal. New games were starting as fast as Marta could find people to deal them because Ultimate Bet held a drawing each night, and had for the last five nights, for a $6,200 seat in the Tournament…it was almost time for the drawing. I moved into a game that was $2-$4 Blind, NLH…just starting and by the time I sold chips and dealt one hand, I was pushed to the next game which was a $2-$5 Blind PLH game.

About this time, Ben Affleck, Russ Hamilton, The Devil Fish, and a few more showed up to start a game. They were still talking and getting the game set up as I went by to a $4-$8 Holdem game. The rail was lined with beauties all leaning in to get a look at Ben. Even more amazing was that the rail didn’t collapse with them pressing into each other and leaning over it. I can’t help but wonder how he can even stand to go out in public…

In the $4-$8 game, the player in the 10s waited until I dealt the 2nd hand before he asked me if I was “Linda…Pokerworks Linda?”

He was hysterical. David from Canada, he said he’d written me about the order of the posts – back some time ago – and wanted them to load oldest to newest, did I remember? Yes, I did! He went on to say that he knew I was coming to Aruba and he started checking out all the female dealers, even if they were 20, even though I’d said I started dealing in 1940 or sometime in there…lots of laughter here…he was determined to meet me. It’s funny that I would meet him at the Excelsior because I wasn’t even supposed to be dealing there…life is strange. David beat the hell out of his good friend, Jim, that started with A-K and David started with A-Q catching runner, runner, to land a Straight on the River. *Begin Edit* I just got a note from David that it wasn’t ‘runner, runner’, he flopped a two card straight and a four flush. Slap my fingers and my mouth. Damn it! Guess I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been but did I forget to add that every time I turned a card off the deck, David yelled, “Red Ace!” Maybe that’s why my brain went into ‘runner, runner’. They had money flying back and forth to each other for almost every card that came off the deck and the Red Ace was worth $100…I think…if I’m wrong I bet he’ll let me know. *End of Edit*

About this time the drawing for the $6,200 seat was starting. Lots of noise and confusion, screaming, excitement from all the players in the room. There were two dealers in my game that came from Vegas to deal the Ultimate Bet event.

There are no numbers on the tables so a card was brought around to each table and we were designated as ‘table 8’. Everyone at my table was screaming, “DRAW TABLE 8…TABLE 8…TABLE 8!” Either the screaming and mindset paid off or something was crazy in the world of luck because – sure enough – the winner was going to be drawn from Table 8.

Now the players at my table were all screaming at each other and trying to make a deal…the winner of the seat was to give everyone at the table $100 in cash. Russ Hamilton arrived with someone in a suit from the pit and Michael, Casino Manager/Owner. The noise and screaming jumped into a mind numbing roar as they all finally agreed to the $100 to each player deal and then all started screaming for their seat # to be drawn.

Russ spread 10 cards, face down on the table while the screaming went into ‘you’re never going to hear after this’ mode. Seat # 4 was chosen…his brother was in the 5s and they jumped up, screaming, hugging, and ‘high fiving’ each other. He handed over the $100 to everyone, the dealers at my table screamed for everyone to give me $5, they did! WooHoo! I got pushed…20 minute downs there.

My next game was back to the $2-$4 blind NLH game I’d been through earlier, I dealt it and the $2-$5 blind PLH game again and was out for a break. The place got much quieter as the drawing was over and the games were breaking down. The Big Game had started and Marta told me she would try to send me through it. Did I care? No! I can deal those games every day in Vegas.

Grace and I were asked to relax for a few minutes and see if we were still needed…we were not. Marta took a few minutes to visit with us and I wonder how many of us that live in the States would handle her job well. She started her day by standing out on the street passing out flyers – along with some of her dealers – for the poker room; followed by starting games and dealer line-ups, and on and on and on, late into the night. She explained that her dealers were afraid we would come in and take their jobs so she had to reassure them that we were only helping out and they had to deal before we could…we were fine with all of it and she was delightful, leaving us with, “Thank you for coming and I hope you will cooperation with me again.”

I only dealt about an hour and twenty minutes. It was fun, no pressure. They are allowed to smoke in the room but not at the table, that didn’t stop them, however. Although no one around me was smoking, my throat hurt within an hour. The poker room has a sunken floor and a lower ceiling…the smoke seems to grow in the area.


On a really down side of our trip – a few of our dealers were out on 4wheelers and two of them were hurt when one of the 4wheelers went down. Nicole was seriously injured, she’s in the hospital, stable but has a broken pelvis and other injuries. Neil had minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. We’re all in shock over it and hoping/praying for the best.


Just for you kids that love the episodes of the ‘Big Game’…played at Bellagio in Vegas…check this out:

Aruba/Ultimate Bet – 2004 – Page 1

My flight left Vegas in the early a.m., 12:20 a.m., on the morning of the 23rd.

HELLO ARUBA! The flight was fine…as far as flights go…really bumpy and ugly at a few points. Too bad I stopped drinking a few months ago…just kidding, no really I did stop but it’s not too bad. It’s much better for me but I kind of miss those rosy evenings when I got lost in a bowl of wine.
Continue reading Aruba/Ultimate Bet – 2004 – Page 1

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

This “H & G” as in ‘hi and goodbye’. I’m set to load everything and head for the airport…stop in Georgia, a quick hop out over the ocean and “Hello Aruba”. Sweet! Wish I was a little better prepared but sometimes you just have to ‘go with the flow’ and that’s what I’m doing.

I hope to find a ‘hot spot’…sure the place where all the ‘nekkid’, good looking guys hang out…just kidding. A WIFI so I can just wirelessly network onto the internet. It probably won’t happen but if all else fails, I’m going to shoot for a standard dial-up that is available for Aruba Poker Players during this tournament (only problem is that everyone’s using it and it’s always busy) and I really do plan on putting up a post or two. So hopefully it won’t be over two weeks before I get back here.

I’m spending a few extra days, after the tournament is over, and checking out the island. I’ve been told there’s not a lot to it – oh well. I want to visit the lighthouse. They are so damn cool. Anyway, I still have pictures from last year that never made the website…cross my fingers…hope, wish, hope…I might find just a few more minutes in each day and get some of the ‘oldies’ and some of the new ones up.

More later.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I dealt a hand the other night that still has me completely baffled. The game was $25-$50 blind NLH. The party was just getting started, I had been playing in a $4-$8 Holdem game when I got picked up to deal this one. There was a lot of noise and general confusion as we waited for the brush person to bring chips to the table. A few of the players at the table were regulars. The 3s was from Colorado and the 9s was from Northern Idaho, just where I had spent my vacation a few weeks earlier. The 3s and the 9s knew each other…another poker game, another place.

The 9s, Mike, put a lot of chips into action, it was as if his hands were spring-tripped autoloaders. He liked to show his cards, heads up, when he was facing a large bet. In one hand he called a raise pre-flop and called a check on the Flop. The Turn gave him a four flush and a gut shot straight draw and when faced with an all-in bet, he turned his hand face up and exposed the 8-4 of Diamonds. He kept his hand in front of him, fiddled the cards back and forth on the table for at least two minutes before he decided to release the hand.

The very next hand, the player under the gun raised the bet to $200, Mike called without hesitation, the 1s called, and the 3s raised it to $1,500. The original raiser folded his hand. About the length of time it takes for one to bat their eyes is how long it took the Mike to think about calling the raise. It went to heads up immediately. The 3s jumped up and turned his back to the table. The Flop was A-K, little. Mike checked, and by now the three seat had returned to his seat and stated he was all-in.

Mike turned up J-J and started to fiddle with them. He kept his fingers on them while questioning the 3s… could he beat the jacks. They started talking about a deal. During this time the 3s never opened his hand. A few of the players got involved in a discussion about what kind of deal was feasible. It was my last hand of the down and it took at least eight minutes, a crowd gathered, Mike kept fiddling with his cards, and I sat patiently waiting for them to decide what they wanted to do. The first part of the discussion considered giving part of the pot back to the 3s and then running the cards for the remainder of the pot.

Finally one of the players suggested that all of the other players that were not involved in the hand just “Shut up!” That seemed to work fairly well, everyone got quiet. The three seat decided they had to count down all their remaining chips to see where they stood with the all-in. Mike had the 3s covered but not by much. Finally they agreed Mike would receive $1000 from the pot and the rest of it would go to the 3s. Several players wanted me to run out the board but as soon as it was suggested a lot of noise took place from the other players. I was told to drop the deck and push the pot, I did.

I had never seen anyone give up a pot without seeing their opponents cards. I puzzled over this for quite some time, even talking about it to a few players I knew, later in the night. Fortunately some of the mystery was cleared up for me tonight, the 17th. When I came in to work I ran into one of the players that had been in that game in the five seat. He was in the Sports Book visiting with several people. He took a moment to visit with me about the hand. He said what I had missed when I was counting out the bets as they were getting the pot straight, the 3s flashed his cards to Mike…he held K-K. Whew! I feel better now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I am sometimes amazed at how much people know about house rules…just kidding. Because if the truth is known, the rules they are talking about must be the rules used in their own home game. The worst part of the scenario is that they want to argue about it even when they are wrong…that would include arguing with the supervisor and we all know the bottom line is the house decision is final. So when in Rome do as the Romans do.

I jumped into a $20-$40, 7 card stud game and the 1s had a roll of quarters in front of him. He went all-in about halfway through my down. I didn’t even ask him to put the roll of quarters into play. He won the hand and after I pushed the pot, Joe – 6s, decided to bring up the fact that the roll of quarters played in the hand.

I said they didn’t. He said they did and did a little dissertation on how it didn’t matter to him one way or the other but…he didn’t drop it either.

I said, “Well let me get a decision on it.”

He told me to get the decision another time and finished with “…you are wrong, Linda.” He flipped that out at me like he’d really given me the grand touche.

I said, “Ok, I can handle being wrong, I’d just like to get a decision for my own edification.”

Nate, Swing Supervisor, came by the table and I asked him about the roll of quarters. Nate said, “No, they don’t play.”

Joe corrected Nate. “Yes they do play, Nate…” and started to go into a dialogue dance when Nate cut him off.

“No they do not. That’s final!” and Nate walked away.

Joe explained to the table that Nate didn’t like him, that’s why the decision went that way.

When I clocked out, Jimmy, Grave Supervisor, was on shift and I only had to bring up the subject of Joe and the stud game. Jimmy looked at me, ” I told him no. Did you tell him no?”

Nuff said there. But I did carry it one step further. Out of curiosity, when I came in to work the following night, I asked Kamell the same question and received the same answer I got from Nate and Jimmy. So I guess if Joe knows the house rules he must remember them from his own game and remember if you ever play there that all change plays if you go all-in.

On the night of the 9th, I attended the Poker Fantasy Camp Banquet. I arrived early at the Palms, and never having been there before, decided to take a tour of the casino. I’ve been in Las Vegas too long. All the casinos look the same to me, flashing lights, noisy machines, and the hustle and bustle of mankind running in every direction. As I cruised the perimeter of the casino, I found a final Camp tournament being played down in one of the ballrooms.

One of the contestants at the table was our own Tony H., (a regular at Bellagio) the subject of other posts here. He took second place in this tournament and managed to handle himself extremely well, mainly his temper. His temper is the subject of the other posts. Yes, he knows about the posts, I told him.

First place in this tournament was a $10,000 seat into the World Series of poker. Second place was $5,000 in cash…not a bad showing for a kid that plays at Bellagio.

There were numerous tournaments that took place and some single table tournaments. I wish I had more information on the basic format but unfortunately, working at night while the rest of the world happens during daylight hours, I tend to miss a lot of things because I love my sleep.

The Camp Participants had a question-and-answer period with Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Phil Gordon. They also played poker with these poker greats.

The morning after the banquet, a Celebrity Poker Tournament was to take place, a guest appearance by…some said it would be Gus Hanson…would take place and before the tournament was played, all the pros would again visit with the Participants.

Well hell, there I was sleeping again so I missed that too. That damn time clock is always in the way.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Soon I’m going to begin testing this statement, “I do this for a living,” as a normal routine check to see if I can say it and then NOT make a mistake. The phrase has escaped my lips approximately fifteen times in my dealing career. BOOM! As soon as I say it, I make a mistake. What the hell is up with that?

I skipped into a $20-$40 Omaha 8 or Better with a Kill. A few of the ‘usual suspects’ were in the game, namely Jay and Jeff. The field was comprised of new faces. They weren’t new players, just new faces.

The 1 and 2s were somewhere in their mid thirties and extremely impatient for A-C-T-I-O-N! The 10s had a horrible time looking at his cards, taking an extra 30-45 seconds, when the action came to him. And he was losing! Short chips through my whole down, finally dragging half of a small pot, I felt a slight sympathy tug for him.

The 1 and 2s kept barking, “He’s got to hurry up! Tell him to speed up!” when I dealt the first hand.

I snorted, “He’s entitled to look at his cards.”

They were on the verge of ‘grumble explosion’ but they eased up a little bit.

As I dealt the third or fourth hand, the 8s was the Button and he pushed the Button to his right, almost in front of the 7s. When I came around with the 2nd card, I asked him, “It’s your button isn’t it?”

He replied that it was and he had just moved it out of my way so I wouldn’t expose his cards. Super pet peeve of mine. Leave the damn button alone. I set it where I know I won’t hit it or expose a card…another post somewhere. I moved the Button back in front of him and flippantly exclaimed, “I do this for a living…at least sometimes.”

Jay chimed in that I was probably one of the very few that could make that claim. It’s always worse when someone gives you a compliment and then you really blow it.

Not to worry, within a few hands, mega action, I missed the 10s on a raise on the Flop, pulled the bets in, burned and turned. Ooops! The 10s and the 7s brought it up. Call for a decision. Finish the hand. A few hands later, I tried to pull the bets in without allowing the 10s, once again, to call a raise.

The 7s had a cute little smile on his face when he said, “I thought you said you did this for a living.”

I knew he was going to tag me on it and wondered how he missed the first mistake. I replied, “I said I ‘sometimes’. Tonight I’m only here because I snuck in after management went home.”

He laughed and replied, “We’re all ok with it.”

Jay laughed too and said he’d keep me from making any more mistakes. Whew!

When I escaped the down, I stopped behind the 7s, put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I was wondering how long it was going to take you to jump on the statement I made. I couldn’t believe you missed the first mistake.”

He was laughing. I thanked him for being gracious about it.

So…if you hear me make the statement now, it will simply be a test and not because I’m lipping off to a player. I hate tests, it always reminds me of the statement, “Pay attention now, there’s going to be a test later.”

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ernie! My first dealing experience with him was at the Mirage years ago. Jewish, elderly, snow skiing maniac, very active and appears to be quite healthy and able to play poker for another 100 years or so…has me laughing at his paranoid, lucky dealer superstition. We go through periods of time where he will not speak to me or even look at me…then we revert to what he must feel is a comfort zone, he talks to me non-stop while I’m dealing.

I dealt to him three nights in a row last week. The first incident was $30-$60 Holdem. When I approached the table, he was in the 2s and looked up at me and stated, “If you deal me a bad beat, Linda, I’m leaving!”

Not to worry, he called a raise from the 5s, (the 5s didn’t play a hand the first ten minutes of my down), heads-up and the Flop brought an Ace. Ernie called all the bets and the 5s showed him pocket Aces for a Set. Ernie flipped out, slammed his chips into the rack and left with comments like, “See, Linda, you did it to me!”

Me? Curious as to how he figured he got a bad beat when he never had the best hand.

The second incident. A new $15-$30 game started. Ernie was in the 9s. Kay was in the 10s with a Frog on top of her chips. The Frog was about two inches long and had gems for eyes. The 6 and 7s were young guys that were boisterous and chuckling and just looking at them had me smiling and laughing with them.

The 6s asked Kay, “Would you please cover the frog’s eyes? They are staring right at me!”

She looked straight ahead and ignored him.

The three of us cracked up as he took off again, “I don’t think I can play with those eyes staring at me.”

It was so ridiculous it was hard not to laugh.

Ernie jumped in, “You really shouldn’t be laughing.”

I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to choke. “Ernie, come on. Where’s your sense of humor?”

Ernie, “I don’t think you should say anything to her. Just leave her alone.”

Me, “Ernie, you don’t think that the frog’s eyes bothering him is funny?”

Ernie, “Oh! I didn’t even see the frog.”

So much for poker being a group awareness program.

The third incident. A $15-$30 Holdem game. Marla, a long time acquaintance, from the Montana days, was in the 6s. Ernie was in the 2s.

Marla and I exchanged ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ and I mentioned I was going to Aruba again to deal the Ultimate Bet Tournament. The 4s jumped in and wanted to know if I was ‘the Linda’…he said the subject of Aruba was what brought me to his attention. Yes…’the Linda’…as in PokerWorks Linda. His name is Steve and he’s from Philadelphia. Very pleasant table manners and he convinced the guy in the 5s that he needed to visit this site too. Thanks, Steve.

Ernie decided it would be a day when he would visit with me. First he started with Suzie leaving the Swing Shift Supervisor position. He said he’d been talking to another dealer earlier in the day and he told the dealer that Suzie was quitting so she could go to work for Steve Wynn when that place opens and the dealer agreed with him. He asked me what I thought.

I replied that she was still going to be a Bellagio employee and would be working our big tournaments and that she was going to work other tournaments like the Ultimate Bet in Aruba. And that I did not believe she was going to work for Steve Wynn.

He retorted, “What makes you think so?”

Me, “She told me so.”

Ernie exclaimed, “OH!”

A few minutes went by and he asked me if I still played poker.

I said, “Yes. Every now and then.”

He asked if I got mad at the dealer like he did.

I said, “No, never even think about it.”

He laughed. And out of a clear blue sky, barked, “You’re wrong about Suzie. She is going to work for Steve Wynn.”

I just smiled. He told me he’d bet me and if she did, I had to buy him dinner. I told him I wouldn’t bet on it and he finished with, “Ok, I’ll buy you dinner.”

He got called to another game, I got pushed and told Steve it was nice meeting him.

Suzie, damn it, you’d better not go to work for Steve Wynn. Although I don’t think Ernie’s buying me dinner had anything to do with a bet.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The anthill effect took over in the poker room last night. People conjestion, noise, confusion, and above all else, the sounds of poker. The night seemed endless. I know I was at each table for one and half hours, not the usual half hour down…or I stepped into a lateral universe. Wish I’d been on drugs, it would have eased the night and I wouldn’t have felt as if I’d been dropped kicked out on the freeway right in front of a long haul truck parade. Is this aging? Ouch! My whole body hurt when I hit the time clock.

Some of the high spots.

I got to visit with Danny/player/reader here on one of my breaks. He’s cute and interesting to talk to…amazingly well rounded and thinking for a youngster that plays high limit poker.

Table 1…of course it was in my way…mostly the usual suspects, $1,000-$2,000 still playing the ‘usual mixed games’, still talking about the celebrity invitational poker event going on at the Palms…the same one they were discussing and taking bets on last night…only tonight was the finale. This Down went off without a hitch. I spent most of it dealing, intent on every detail of the game to keep myself out of trouble, and listening to them. They are pretty funny at times.

Table 2…Sammy F. and Gabriel, 5s, playing $100-$200 Blind NLH. They both had a lady sweater behind them. Sammy was in the 1s and had me laughing. He’s the master of conversational shuck and jive.

They kibitzed back and forth about how one of them had been winning, then the other was winning, now they were about even, and the fact that Sammy had picked up A-A, during their heads-up play, four times. During my down, he picked them up three more times, along with Q-Q, and Presto (5-5). He never got any action on them. Gabriel escaped each time.

Sammy started showing me his hand, “I’m going to show Linda. I know she won’t tell you.”

He was right. I wouldn’t and didn’t. Amazingly, my last hand, he picked up A-A one more time and Gabriel called a small raise pre-flop, around $600 I believe. Sammy bet the Flop and Gabriel folded. Sammy showed me his hand and said, “Don’t tell him now, Linda.”

Incredible. The pocket pairs were wired into his hard drive somewhere, somehow. I talked to him about and hour and a half later when I was out on a break. Eventually he took all the chips.

My next game was $10-$20 NLH. Morris Chestnut was in the 5s…major actor, all around quiet, good looking hunk of a guy. The 9s played a lot of hands and has my vote for the friendliest, best tipping player I’ve seen in a lot of years. I’d dealt to him in the PLO game the night before. He was in the 9s both nights and liked to chatter with me while I was dealing. Fun! That down didn’t seem to last an hour and a half.

A few games later, I hit a $60-$120 Holdem game that went into overdrive when Donna took the 6 s. I’d dealt to her in the $30-$60 game earlier. She posted between the Button and Blind and picked up A-A. Jonathan – 7s, held Q-9 of Clubs. Jean – 8s, had K-K. The 2s, a blustery, noisy, having a fit kind of middle aged, Middle Eastern guy, had been in the 9s and hopped to the 2s on this hand, held 6-8S, the 5s held the 7C, what his other card was, no one knows.

All the raises went in pre-flop. $1,500 in the pot before a card hit the board…don’t worry, the 2s put in the cap with 6-8. The Flop was 6-8-4 of Clubs. All the bets/raises went in on the Flop.

A King peeled off on the Turn. Somewhere in here, Donna gave up her hand…two RED Aces. The 5s kept requesting the 5C as he called each bet/raise.

The River brought a blank. Jonathan bet, Jean called, and so did the 2s. It took me a week to push all the chips to Jonathan.

The 2s jumped up with, “Fuck. I hate this fucking game,” and did a little waltz around his chair and the end of the table. Honestly, it was hard to be upset with him…I laughed most of the time when he started with a ‘tiz’.

Jean was having a verbal montage of grumble because she had been going to leave when she thought the game was short but it filled back up and she’d taken the Big Blind in this hand, only to lose a huge pot with a Set of Kings.

The 2s wanted to move back to the 9s and was out of position to take a hand so I told him to take one more there. He did. Of course he played it and lost it…ATC worked for him. He moved and didn’t want to post, he wanted to ‘rest’. “You made me stay there. I lost another $1,000 because you made me stay there.”

I tried not to laugh, “I did?”

“Yes. You made me stay there and lose more money!”

I slapped myself on the side of the face and exclaimed, “Bitch!”

Everyone at the table roared. I just kept dealing. The 2s really was harmless and great for the game. I got pushed a moment later, gave him a little finger rub on the back as I went by and headed for the time clock. Hell…he might be there tonight waiting for me to force him to play a hand again.

Pass the drugs please…no, I mean literally pass the drugs to someone else. Who needs them with entertainment like that?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Mrs. Lederer, wife of Howard, sister-in-law of Annie Duke, THE Swing Shift Supervisor at Bellagio, but better known to all of us in the poker world as Suzie, has left her position. Her last official shift was Sunday night…yes, she’ll be missed by all of us, players and employees. She isn’t finished with us though. She will be working tournaments (I’ll be working with her in Aruba in a few short weeks) and a few of those will be Bellagio’s big events so she’ll be around.

While dealing $60-$120 Holdem tonight, Richie W. asked me if Suzie was going to become a player. I gave him the above report. Suzie came in on graveyard tonight to help Shana get the feel of the relief Supervisor on Grave. When I told Suzie about the query, she laughed and said they obviously haven’t seen her play.

It feels like an era in poker has passed. We started dealing together at the Mirage a million years ago. Truthfully, I hoped I would retire before she did but alas, I still have that damn mortgage and a hundred other things to take care of…hello time clock.

The $1,000-$2,000 Mixed game was hopping on Table 1 and right in my line-up about 12 a.m. Renee, Jennifer, Abe, David G., Minh, Ralph, Eli E., and Chau…in order from seat 1. They were well heeled and low key, involved in taking bets with each other and giving odds on players placing in a tournament.

I deftly dodged the one and only bullet. Eli lost the first few hands I dealt. He was in the 7s and the Big Blind in an Omaha 8 or Better hand. I took the shuffled deck out of the Shuffle Master and released it to cut and deal just as he lofted two $500 chips into the air that would land on my hands. My peripheral vision is better than bat radar, I saw them sailing in and pulled my hands back. The chips did a dead ‘splat’ onto the green felt. I picked up the deck, cut it, and dealt the hand. Nah, nah, nah, nah! Hell yes he meant to hit me with them!


The $2-$5 Blind NLH game is just phenomenal. I wish I was in the mood to play poker and had the time to cruise through a few sessions of it. The play is unbelievable and you’d have to see it to believe it. Late tonight, still a must move into the main game until 2:30 a.m. The must move broke when four seats opened in the main game. The action was crazy…in both games.


I’ve witnessed some strange bets and calls in the last few months but this one might take the cake. $4-$8 Holdem. The Big Blind had stacks hidden behind stacks of chips in front of him. He was somewhere around 30, made the statement that he learned to play by watching TV.

He started to fold his hand when I said, “Option.”

The player next to him pushed it back to him and told him he was already in. The Flop was something like 9-5-3. He checked. One player bet and everyone folded to him. He called and checked the Turn. The other player checked. He checked the River. The other player bet. He called. They both turned up K-4, no pair and split the pot.

Pretty impressive that he wanted to fold pre-flop, had no draw and no call coming but called the Flop, checked the Turn, and check-called the River for a split pot.

Damn it! Maybe that’s where I went wrong, I should have learned to play by watching TV.