So…Friday – the 30th – for all intents and purposes, I was done with dealing…except for the final table. I crawled out of a drunken blitz somewhere around 11 a.m. And while it may appear from the posts that I’ve been ‘drink, drank, drunk’ throughout this trip, that’s not even close to the truth of it. I had too much to drink one other day but this was the first time that I was drunk. The norm is one to three brews a day. I managed to doze off intermittently until the phone rang at 2 p.m. It was Suzie telling me to meet her in the poker area of the Radisson so she could walk the Final Table Dealers over to the Azzurro for our practice session at 3 p.m. I made it on time but we had to wait for another dealer to arrive. There were five of us. Unusual to me because when I dealt the final table two years ago, there were three of us…but what do I know about it?
When we got to the Azzurro, we were told they would be using two women and two men – we were at three women and two men. Suzie left us, she had work to do back at the Radisson. I spoke with Linda Johnson, away from the others dealers, and asked her if she thought I should opt out because I’d dealt it before, or if I should just wait and see what happened. She told me to wait.
All of us took a seat with Linda, at THE table, as the crew worked around us setting up lights, microphones and a few million other things that it takes to make the production work. It was hot as hell.
There were numerous changes to the table since my debut as a ‘TV dealer’ two years ago. For one thing the rail is about three inches higher, awkward even with the dealer cut out in the rail that puts our hands and arms at table height – the rail made it difficult to deal to some spots at the table. Then to make it worse there are two domes in the middle of the table, on each side of where we would put the flop. The domes house cameras and look like ‘security camera globes’ that sit on the ceiling in casinos. We could not touch the globes because our fingerprints would have to be cleaned off of them before play continued. They were definitely a card pitching hazard.
Then we were introduced to the ‘wonder cam’. It is in the rail, on the right hand side of the dealer. If the hand went to a Flop, no call on the Flop or Turn, we were supposed to push the pot, then burn, bring the Turn off face down, burn, and bring the River off face down. And then show the Turn and River to the wonder cam, not allowing anyone else to see it, and not to look at it ourselves.
Each of us took a turn at dealing – practicing the expected procedures – while the rest of us and Linda Johnson played. Linda talked us through everything. The only time we were to speed up was during the shuffle and the deal, the rest of it is ‘slow-mo’ for camera and effect. If a player accidentally exposed or purposely showed one/both cards, the cards were turned face up and left lay on the table so they could be camera documented, etc., etc., etc. We were being schooled in ‘the drama of dealing’.
At the end of the session, I asked Nikki and Janie if we should high card for who would be dealing on Saturday. Barry was in the box and I asked him to shuffle and deal us off a card. Nikki objected and wanted to draw her own. Ok…the deck was spread, she pulled a four, Janie drew a trey, and I drew the Ace of Spades. Holy Chit, Mon! I usually find the Deuce of Clubs anytime I draw for seat choice…or when they are high carding for the chip race.
Linda told Janie that if she wanted to come the following day, it would be fine. She went on to say that sometimes things happen and a dealer can’t make it – and one time a director even took a dealer out of the line-up during a final table taping. I know Janie was disappointed but by now I knew I really wanted to deal the final table and I wasn’t going to just disappear.
My clothes were drenched, I probably looked like I’d jumped into the sea with them on…and that’s pretty much how I spent the following day too – drenched. But I headed back to the room and managed to find Jim. We hit Gilligans for food (somewhere in this few day time span, Wayne deserted us for casino action – some of the machines kept calling his name). Shortly after we were seated, Sipu, one of the Turtle team, joined us for food. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to fade the live action at the Radisson that night and we talked about what had been going on with the dealers that had been scheduled for live action at the Radisson since arrival.
Even Suzie had talked of how difficult it was to work around the Casino management that was in charge of the actual workings of the poker room. It wasn’t Dane and Mace, the brothers that owned part of the room, it was casino management. When our dealers would show up to be put in the line-up, most of the time, they would tell the dealers to check back in a few hours. At times this went on throughout the night, some of our dealers even coming back in at 3 a.m. – just to sit and wait or told to come back in a few hours…repeat, repeat, repeat. The regular room dealers also did not want to deal anything higher than $4-8…unless they knew the players in a game were tipping well.
And yes…I, and most of our dealers, understand the fact that these people are here all year long and they need income. That wasn’t our problem though in working with them. Our problem was that we were not getting paid to be in the poker room, we could put out a lot more hands per hour, and we were skilled in running a game and knowing who/what won the pot, and we were a long ways from home with most of our group (don’t include me in that) hoping to put in some time in the box and make some money too. We were getting the short end of the stick by them expecting us to deal all the Ace to Five/Deuce to Seven triple draw games (no money in those babies) and they wanted all the gravy games and we were supposed to hurry up and wait for them to decide to let us deal. It was leaning towards mutiny. One of the best parts of the whole dealer side of it is that Suzie is always aware and really stands up for us…she’s like a mama bear that has her cubs threatened. And if you ain’t ever seen or heard tales of mama bears with cubs, you have no idea how scary it can be. Way good news for us though.
But back to Gilligans. We finished our food and it was shower time at home away from home. I went back to the Radisson with Jim when he was ready to report for work…Wayne would meet us there. I drifted in and out of the main tournament area and the satellite area…the showdown for the final six was in progress.
Jim and me visited the poker room at the Radisson, standing around on the rail, him trying to decided if he even wanted to show for the 8:15 reporting time, and a few other Turtles appeared and joined in the conversation. One of our Turtles had been hanging around since before we showed up and they put her in a game. We stood on the rail for close to half an hour, Wayne arrived, more discussion of, “Should we check in to work…” – “I’m not coming back if they tell me to come back in a few hours…” – and on and on it went. But they knew they couldn’t get fired so what was the worst that could happen? They might not be asked back next year and most dealers like this gig.
I left them in their quandary and headed for the room. I had the blues…I missed my baby and his baby. And I was ready to just dissolve into solitude…like get the hell away from everyone and just do a ‘Linda thang’ – escape from the real world. I also needed to work on posting here and wanted to find some decent sleep before I jumped into the final table action on Saturday. I managed to find Sand Woman Land somewhere around midnight.