Thursday, July 28, 2005

Go West (not so) Young Man

Picture the stream of pioneers headed West in Conestoga wagons. Day after day and week after week of the seemingly endless supply of people who had set out for adventure and the promise of a better life in the West. The next time that you are driving through a barren section of this country just try to imagine making that journey in a wagon. I've heard that the more heavily traveled routes still exhibit the scars of this journey. Deep ruts worn into the earth all those years ago are now only a silent witness to the hundreds of thousands of souls who swept over the prairies and mountain passes of the United States. I have been told that my great grandmother Ricker, as a young girl, actually traveled from Nebraska to Lonaconing, Maryland in a Conestoga wagon. Perhaps that explains a lot about me. As thousands were on a westward migration, my ancestor was swimming against that flow to settle in the mountains of Western Maryland. A handful of generations later, I decided that I would give the Desert Southwest a try. I loaded up the Buick with all she could carry and headed first South to Florida and then West to Nevada. A cross country road trip was something that I had always wanted to do. In reality, it was a little less romantic than I had imagined, but I don't regret having made the journey. Now, let's go back to those deep scars in the earth. I seem to be stuck in one of those RUTS. Here I sit in one of the most exciting cities on the face of the earth. People from all over the world can't wait to visit Las Vegas. Right now, I wonder what's next, or rather where's next. Where does one go when he becomes bored with Las Vegas??

The poker room at work seems to have slowed down considerably. What else could anyone have expected after the poker orgy that just took place.
It might be my imagination, but there seems to be more grumpy players than usual. To say that there has been an increase in grumpy poker players is really saying something considering that grumpiness sometimes seems to be a prerequisite to playing poker. I have always tried to ignore the grumble-grunts all together or when that was not possible I have tried to lighten the mood of those players. What the hell can some of these people do for FUN? It sure-as-shit can't be play poker. A few days ago in one of my lowest moments as a dealer I actually stopped the game and asked the guy in the 1s (those who grumble and complain invariably plant themselves as close to the dealer as possible) just WHAT would you like me to do? How can I make your poker playing experience better for you? This man was bitching when I sat down and he never stopped bitching. He did, however, not mutter another word for the rest of my down. That, of course, made me feel slightly guilty for calling him out. From now on I'll just try keep my mouth shut and become the piece of furniture that some players expect the dealer to be. I wonder if I could just wear a earphones?
Later in the week there was a ray of sunshine peeking through the dark clouds. I was on table 3 and one of the players was an older gentleman who is also infected with terminal, malignant grumpiness. As I sat down, several of the other players were imploring him to smile once in awhile. He quickly drug a pot and a slight grin started to appear. Those other players jumped all over the opportunity to reinforce the crack in his icy appearance. One of the players picked up his cell phone and threatened to take a picture of the guy actually smiling. I quickly blurted out that I wanted a copy of THAT picture. I may never see that guy smile again. The fact that a few players made the effort to lighten the general mood at the table speaks volumes. The vast majority of players don't want the negativity that radiates from those who are terminally abrasive. Most do come to experience some semblance of a good time. The one bad apple theory applies. What do you do to preserve the barrel of apples? You extract the bad one.
I need to get out of this rut before I become the bad apple.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sweet Dreams?

It is not uncommon for me to dream about poker, but a poker nightmare is a first for me. Today during my 4 hour afternoon nap it all went bad. As I sat in the box from beyond (or BELOW as the case may be), the first thing that I noticed were several foreign chips mixed in the chip stacks. Being a chip collector, I immediately knew that these were not simply live chips from another Las Vegas casino, but relatively worthless chips from someone's home game. The box was about $80 short, but no one, including the floorperson seemed the least bit concerned. Oh, and who was the floorman? My new shift boss was one of the least desirable players I have ever dealt to. The set up was fouled and I called for a new set up. The floorperson brought not one, but two set ups and dumped all four decks into a mixed-up pile in the middle of the table. I again called for a fresh set up only to be told that there were none available. I cursed under my breath and began sorting out the cards. As I thought about how much time was being wasted, I glanced at my watch. Something about the time didn't seem quite right and I finally figured out that my watch was set to Eastern time. Somehow I'd been in the box for 2 hours and 30 minutes and had yet to deal a freaking hand of poker.
And that's where it ended. I woke up and that's all I remember.
Maybe I need vitamins, vegetables and exercise (Hell, I KNOW I need exercise) or perhaps I need to be medicated. Poker is starting to haunt my dreams.....and I'm starting to worry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Looking for Lady Luck

I can't seem to win. I'll leave it at that......

I spent the better part of the day playing some form of cards. I hit the Hard Rock because I had a $20 food comp that needed using. I decided to park in their garage because it was so hot and I wanted to avoid a 200 degree car when I came out. The thermometer in the old Buick still registered 113 in the shade when I got back to the car. The HR has an automated player tracking system with a touch screen at the table. The screen was tilted so that I, in the last seat of a Let it Ride table, could see it. It had all kinds of info on it such as the table drop for the current shift. The pit boss saw me looking at the screen and came flying over and slammed the screen in the other direction while saying that the screen was used to make sure that I got credit for my play. I said, yes, I know that part, but there is a LOT of other interesting info on it too. He was not amused. He was snorting and huffing about all sorts of things. When he got out of earshot I told the dealer that the pit boss needed to take a happy pill. The dealer said that the pit boss was stressed. STRESSED? I said. On a Wednesday afternoon with a pit full of mostly empty tables? If that is stress, he needs to find another job. HR: one black chip. Me: Didley

Off to the Hilton for some 21. A fairly pleasant 2-3 hours that found me dead even. Can't argue with that.

I then decided to head all the way down to the Silverton. I had never been there before and wanted to check out their poker room. The decor is nice enough in the Silverton, but I got a strange claustrophobic sensation while walking to the poker room. Once in the poker room, that sensation did not abate. The room is small and there are 5 tables crammed into the space. There is little to no room to move between the tables. The space issue was my only major complaint. Other small issues were with the inexperience of the dealers. Hey, we've all been there, so I'm not saying that simply being inexperienced is a major negative. The wrinkles sould iron out in time. I was in the 10s and was trying to offer some helpful advice. I wouldn't say that it was received graciously. "We don't allow that here" was the answer I got from two different dealers on two different debates. They didn't say that they would call the floor for clarification, just NO. I didn't want to yell FLOOR myself, so I waited a few minutes and talked with the floorman while on the way to smoke a cig. The first situation involved a player with a missed blind button wanting to come back in with an $8 staddle one off of the big blind. The dealer said no. The second situation was when the BB from the previous hand (9s)racked up and left. I would have been the next BB had he not quit, but he quit. There were three empty seats between the previous SB (5s) and the previous BB (9s). A new player sat in the 6s and wanted to post the BB. The dealer said that since the previous BB had been the 9s and the new player was in the 6s and the button was now in the 5s that he could not come in until after the button because they don't allow you to come in between the blinds. I told the dealer that there was nothing to BE between since the previous BB had quit. She was having none of it, and since the table was getting too short handed for my taste I went to smoke a cig. Ben, the floorman confirmed that indeed you can straddle one off of the BB with a missed blind button and the new guy could have posted his BB. Not really earth shattering issues, but you can't get better if you don't try.
The action in the $4-8 game was borderline incredible. Ace anything meant riding it all the way to the river. Twice my pocket KK were hunted down like the dogs that they were until the A fell on the river and A3off dismissed my KK. The biggest pot I saw in about 3 hours was won by an out of position 5-2 off that cold called three bets pre-flop. That is poker as it is currently being played. Bless them.
Donkeys: One Black and two Green. Me: Didley (starting to think that I may the jack ass)
After enduring all of the poker torture I could take for the day I started to head for the car only to be sidetracked by a PaiGow table. There was one other guy at the table as I walked up to the table. The previous hand was complete and I threw some cash on the table. Instead of giving me check change, the dealer delivered the cards for the next hand. I nearly had a stroke as I thought SHE thought that Money Plays. Nope, she just chose to ignore me for one more hand.
A few hands in I had a brain fart. I had 10, 10, joker, 2 and three other cards that I don't remember. I set the hand with 10,10 up and what amounted to A high in the back. The funny thing is that I must have thought I was playing some mutant form of Big2PaiGow and I thought I had a pair of 2s since 2s are the highest card in Big2 and I could use the joker with the 2 for highest pair. DUH, DUH and DUH. I don't think that I have ever before set a fouled hand in Pai Gow. As it turns out, had I set the hand correctly I would have won, so the dealer took pity and paid me anyway. I threw her a red bird and decided that it would be wise to just go home.
When I got in the car, the old Buick's climate control system still registered a toasty 102 degrees and it was just after 11PM.
On the way home I hit the Jack in the Box drive through. They had a sign in the window that said something like "We are using this low-tech non electric sign because we like to conserve energy--Jack" I guess Jack doesn't give a shit about conserving water because his irrigation system was doing a great job of watering the parking lot.......

Maybe the Luck Fairy will visit me while I slumber. What does one place under his pillow to attract that bitch? I'll try placing a deck of cards under my pillow tonight and let you all know if it worked.

Good Night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hindsight, Big Blinds and Sam Angel

Today was the end of my first week of full time poker dealing. I now realize that 4 days of dealing was plenty. Oh well, I made my bed and I'll sleep in it for awhile. I did get a 2 hour EO tonight so my weekend started just a tad early.

As I was dealing on table one, there was a full figured woman in seat one. She has been playing a good bit lately and I have chatted with her a few times about playing Pan and Big 2. On the first hand I dealt, she was the $2 blind but did not realize it. I reached out and took 2 blues from her stack and put it out for her blind. She thanked me and said that she was always forgetting when it was her blind. The next time it was her $2 blind she had some notion that it might be her turn to pay a blind. She asked if it was her blind and I stated, innocently enough, that yes, YOU ARE BIG. She immediately jumped on that and said that she KNEW she was a big woman but I didn't need to call her BIG. She was laughing as she said it and the whole table had a chuckle at my expense. As I was getting pushed, it was her large blind again. As I got up I told her that due to her positional situation she was required to place two blue chips in front of her. I left the table with both of us laughing.

As I was leaving the room I noticed Sam Angel hanging around. I knew that he had a couple of WSOP Razz bracelets from way back but I wasn't sure if he had 2 or 3 bracelets. I decided to see if I could make an old man happy by taking him on a trip down memory lane so I said Hey Sam, do you have two or three WSOP bracelets. He motioned for me to step out of the poker room. Once outside I repeated my question. ONLY two was his reply. I said, Sam, you say ONLY two like it is nothing. End of the pleasantries. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bracelet. No, not one of THOSE bracelets. He asked me if I wanted to buy a "costume" (the word junk comes to mind, but I am trying to be nice) bracelet for only $10. I said no, I wasn't interesting in buying any jewelry from him. He called me a fucking prick and mumbled something about how broke he was. He then pulled out another bracelet and said $10 for both of them. I again declined. He said that the two cost him $15, but I could have them for $10. Again I declined this golden opportunity for a bargain. I walked away with him mumbling about being broke........

For the record, he has two RAZZ bracelets.

Sam Angel - WSOP victories
Year 1975
Event Seven Card Razz
Winner Sam Angel
Prize Money $17,000

Year 1973
Event Seven Card Razz
Winner Sam Angel
Prize Money $32,000

Monday, July 11, 2005

DONG!, Crispy Jewels and Bubba

Las Vegas is awash in poker players. They have come from far and wide to, as Rio/Harrah's advertising puts it "Watch History Fold & Unfold". What I have been watching lately is a bevy of players who don't know Jack Schott (Marge's brother) about poker etiquette & couldn't care less if the action is to them.
US Patent #66666666666666666666 has just been issued to me. It is for an invention called "Live Action Poker Prodder" Each player position at the poker table has a speaker which emits a customizable ring tone which activates when the action has reached that seat. Additionally, there is a cattle prod embedded in each chair. If the customizable ring tone doesn't get your attention a 70,000 volt of electricity to your nether regions is sure to do the trick. I may never hear the question of "who's it on?" again.....


There is nothing quite like seven 20-somethings dressed alike.
It seems that there is a guy named Bubba (no shit) who is playing in the WSOP and 7 of his friends had Tshirts made up saying something about Bubba's House. These 7 people play in Bubba's home game and they are here to conquer LV. Today LV, tomorrow the world. More power to them I suppose. After all, what happens here stays here and no one back home will ever know that they paraded around the poker rooms of LV dressed alike..........unless someone from outside of LV stumbles upon this post...........IF that happens.........BUSTED!


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sometimes you just want to hug them..........

If you have spent any time reading about poker on any of the online forums you have no doubt read the countless threads about toking the dealer. Been there and done that. The bottom line is simply that no one would deal poker for $5-6 an hour if there was not the possiblilty of receiving tokes. For most dealers, the base salary won't even pay the rent let alone the utilities and groceries. Like them or hate them, tokes are a way of life in the casino industry in most jurisdictions. (I know that tokes are not allowed in some places, but I doubt that the hourly wage in those jurisdictions is as low as it is here in LV) I don't want to get too deep in into this issue so I'll leave it at that......tokes are a fact of life.
What I do want to say is that there are some incredibly generous players to offset those who choose not to part with a $1 chip occasionally. To those players I say THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! The story goes that as I pushed into table 8 this evening the departing dealer mumbled something to me about huge pots, jackpot hands and getting stiffed. I always take this mini briefing with a grain of salt. Sometimes players withhold tips from dealers who they hold a personal dislike for or for dealers who simply don't do a good job. I TRY to enter each game with a clean slate and just see what happens. As it turns out there were several players in that game who chose to not toke the previous dealer and I inherited the trend. A few hands into my down the 7s tossed me $3 and said that he had forgotten to toke an prior pot. I told him that I had yet to push him a pot and that he should give the toke to the dealer who I pushed. He told me to keep the $3 and proceeded to go to the table behind me and toke the previous dealer too. Sometimes people don't truly intend to not toke and in a lot of cases these days the internet players are not familiar with the concept. I will say that I don't understand how you can sit at a table for several hours and not notice that players are occasionally throwing the dealer a buck or two. Some people are just more observant than others I suppose.
Anywhoo, when the 7s returned to my game he stated to anyone/no one that someone should remind him when he forgets. I would NEVER do that, but if other players choose to remind him who am I to argue. Several players then chimed in that they had noticed his oversight and had thought about saying something, but didn't.
Where the 5s was during this conversation is open to debate. 5s never knew where the action was or what he could do when he finally realized the action was on him. I pushed him 7 pots and he never once choose to throw me a bone. I guess the same players who ALMOST reminded the 7s ALMOST reminded the 5s too....... ********I know that this might come across wrong and seem like I am a greedy bastard....that is not my intention********
Near the end of my down the 5s and the 1s went to war. (The 5s was a stranger to me and the 1s was a regular) When the smoke cleared, the 1s had all of the 5s chips. The 1s proceeded to give me an inordinate amount as a toke. I can only speculate that the 1s had taken note of the toking practices of the 5s and chose to rectify the situation in one fell swoop. If the 1s was trying to send a silent message to the 5s I think it went over the 5s head. He was in the process of rebuying and getting back to the "oh, it is my turn to act?"
Although I always immediately say thanks for any toke, I feel better having written a huge THANK YOU to those who take care of me. Hopefully I take care of you too.
As I was dealing on table 6 a young man looked at me and said "this place is FUll of characters but you are the normalest person here." I said thank you, I's all relative. Normal in a poker room is still a far cry from normal in the real world. I hope that I am NEVER normal. Normal is boring.............

Friday, July 08, 2005

And the GROOM wore white satin........

As I was dealing on table 5 I happened to look toward the podium. Standing there was a tall man wearing a full length wedding gown. Moments later he was sitting at table 1 playing $2-4 limit hold'em. I can only imagine that he lost a bet. I didn't ask. He didn't tell. Another "thing I haven't seen in a poker room" crossed off of the list.
On table 6 a hand went to the showdown heads-up. There were 4 hearts on the board. The 4 seat turned over AhXo. The 8 seat turned over the KhXo. I killed the 8s hand, moved the 4s hand out of the way in order to start pushing the pot to the 4s. The 3s literally jumped out of her seat and screached that the Ah high flush won. I calmly told her that I knew that and that is why I killed the hand with the Kh in it. Don't ask me what the 3s was smoking. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the help while I am in the midst of a brain fart but when the cranial gasses are under control, I can handle it.

Every few years I need someone of superior intelligence to tell me why the United States can't simply adopt an isolationist posture. Recall all of our troops. Notify any US citizen living abroad that as of such and such a date that they are on their own. Seriously defend our borders and the rest of the world be damned. What does the rest of the world have that we truly need? Do we have enough domestic oil reserves for 10 weeks? 10 years? How many oil wells have been capped in this country because it is cheaper to import oil than it is to extract it and refine it domestically. How many inventions which would reduce our need for fossil fuels have been packed in mothballs because of Big Oil? Must all of our consumer goods be made in some third world county by 13 year olds? Could we possibly live without cheap plastic trinkets made in China? I simply don't know.
As I said, I need to be reminded why we can't simply withdraw from the Global Marketplace/Political Stage. If you feel up to it, lay it on me..........

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