Having never been to Aruba I was not exactly sure what to expect. I assumed that if you have seen one Carribbean Island, you have seen them all. To a small extent, that assumption proved to be correct, but largely, Aruba rises to the top of the list. Maybe it was the company I kept.
First of all, I would like to thank UltimateBet and Suzie Lederer. UB pulled out the stops to make it enjoyable and Suzie worked her ass off to take care of her dealers.
Thursday night was basically a sleepless night. Linda likes to be on the early side when it c0mes to airports. We kept asking her if she was SURE that we had enough time. Time we had. After trudging through security, we arrived at the gate with over three hours before boarding time. What to do? Break out a deck of cards, of course. Big duece kicked my ass, or rather Linda and Jim kicked my ass. (Linda, remind me how much I still owe you from that game!)
On the plane we go. The flight from Las Vegas to Miami was full and we assumed the roll of sardines. Fortunately, the flight from Miami to Aruba was over half empty, so I had three seats all to myself. I stretched out and tried to charge the batteries. I did awaken to see a beautiful sunset from the plane window. Customs upon entering Aruba was painless. We walked out of the airport and into a wall of humidity and heat. I don't think I completely dried off for the next 9 days. We grabbed a cab and headed to the Wyndham. Our first impression was less than favorable. The guy at the front desk had no sense of humor at all. We had requested adjoining rooms, but it was not to be. At least we were able to get rooms directly across the hall from each other. Here is the view from our balcony.
We hastily unpacked and went in search of alcohol. To set the mood, Jim and I started with daiquaris and coladas. Linda stuck with beer. Speaking of beer, I never once saw a 12oz. can or bottle of beer on the Island. Beer hovered between 8 and 11oz although the price tag hovered between $4-5 US. We wandered up the beach and landed at the Radisson. Linda and I jumped into a 4-8 limit game and Jim chose 15-30. To say that the games were loose would be an understatement. I managed to squeek out a $5 and booked it.
During breakfast on Saturday, I asked the waitress for advice on grocery (beer) shopping. She suggested Ling & Sons IGA. She said that the grocery stores were all owned by the Chinese. After breakfast we cabbed it to the Grocery store and loaded up on beer. After we got back to the Wyndham and unloaded our stash, another Big Deuce game broke out. It lasted until we had to go to the dealer's meeting. Suzie had specifically requested that we all not show up drunk since some of us would have to deal live after the meeting. Since we had not exactly heeded her warning, we were relieved to find that our group didn't have to deal live until Sunday night. There was a welcome party to attend after the meeting, so we mingled and greeted. The name brand poker players were everywhere.
The days have all blended into one, but I think this was the night that Linda and I hit the pool and then the sea. Linda has the ability to float like a cork in any type of water. My floating abilities are more pronounced in salt water and we floated in the Caribbean for nearly three hours. That's about as peaceful as it gets. Floating on your back in the bath-water-warm Carribbean and watching the stars twinkle overhead. That's an experience that I doubt I ever forget.
Sunday was to be our first night of dealing live at the Radisson. The poker room at the Radisson is half owned by two brothers from Arkansas, Dane and Mace Howell. Although they have 50 points in the room, aparently, by law, it must be managed by Arubans. The Aruban dealers didn't want to deal the larger games. I overheard one say that they were afraid to deal antything over 4-8. The triple draw games must have been out of the question, as Las Vegas Dealers got stuck dealing them exclusively. My route in the line-up on Sunday night didn't have that game in it, but I can't say that I was disappointed by that fact. I dealt 15-30 limit, 5-5 nl,10-20 nl, 10-20 nl and back to the 5-5 nl. During that last table of 5-5 nl I got locked in for over an hour, but I wasn't complaining. Although we were working for tips only, the tips were good in my line-up. The dealers that dealt 2-7 and Ace-5 were not so fortunate. I only dealt live for 4 hours and escaped out into the sultry night.
Monday I dealt 11 downs in the satellite room. Nothing exciting to report. Tuesday I dealt in the main tournament room. On the very first hand I put down a flop of 10-10-10. The turn was an ace and the river was an ace. By the river it was heads-up. First to act checked and the other guy went all-in. The first guy flashed an ace and mucked. The second guy showed the case 10. I'm not sure how the guy was able to muck the Aces Full, but if he hadn't, his tournament would have consisted of one lonely hand. One table had Scotty N., Josh A. and Eric L. on it. Scotty was in and out of his seat like a jack in the box. Several players commented on his ability to get his ass in the seat just prior to the last card being dealt, avoiding the killing of his hand. I only had two problems this day....on the same table. First, as I was dealing a card to the 9s, the finger of the lady in the 10s got in the way and the card fluttered enough for me to see that it was a black card. I reached out and turned it over.....Ace Clubs. A few players chimed in that it wasn't an exposed card, but if I could tell that it was black, all of the players on the left side sure as hell had a good view of it. The 9s would have had AQc. Sorry dude. I did pretent to throw a flag and call pass interference, but I don't think that he appreciated the humor. A few hands later, I dealt Mr. Brenes in the7s three cards. The heat and the humidity made shuffling and dealing the cards akin to shuffling and dealing slices of cheese. Dead hand. Again, sorry. I dealt 12 down this day and escaped.
The next day I was again in the satellite area and only 3 downs. Linda planted a bug in Suzie's ear that she, Jim and I wanted an EO. EO it was and off we went.
Friday night we were again supposed to deal live. The problem was that the management of the poker room was not entirely organized. If we were to deal live, we were to report at 8:15 PM. The common occurrance was that dealers would report at 8:15 only to be told to come back in 2 hours. And then possibly told to come back again in two hours. Since we were not being paid an hourly rate, this didn't sit well with a lot of the dealers. In any case, Jim, Linda and I reported early and were told to wait around/come back in a little while. We went to ask Suzie what we should do. She said to go back in an hour and if they again said to come back later, just cruise. We did (report back), they did(ask us to come back later) and we did (cruise, that is).
So ended my dealing responsibilities for the trip. In total, I dealt 17 hours. That was not a problem with me.
In years past, there was a catamaran party cruise scheduled for the dealers on Saturday afternoon. This year, there was some debate as to whether it would take place or not. I'm not sure of the details, but it sounded like there might not be enough $$ to pay for it this year. It did take place, but only after Russ Hamilton coughed up a grand or so. Thanks Russ!!
Poker dealers sure know how to party! (Linda missed the trip because she was dealing the final table that day). The first stop on the party cruise was snorkeling in Catalina Bay in the shadows of the light house. The last stop was to snorkel over a shipwreck. Pretty damn awesome.
Again, THANK YOU UltimateBet and Suzie Lederer. I hope to be invited back next year.