Sunday, April 30, 2006

Poker from a Latino Perspectiva

Guatemalan Hold 'Em has a certain ring to it, but I'm not sure that name will catch on anytime soon. It could develop a cult following if the dealers were allowed to throw rocks at the faces of insufferable players. One can only sueno, mi amistades.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Hammer

In our room on tables with a shuffle master, the policy is that we will provide one set up per 8 hour shift. As a dealer, we rarely know if that particular table has already gotten a set up during that shift, so it is common practice to just inform that floor that there has been a set up request. The floor will then either bring a set up or tell the player when the table is eligible for a set up. Of course there are ways "around" this policy. If there are damaged/marked cards or if a card hits the floor (or the wall or the dealer in some cases) a set up is typically provided. This is a grey area and players who employ this tactic need to tread lightly.
So the lady in the 9s asks for a set-up. She does this on a regular basis. If she isn't winning, and usually she isn't winning, she thinks that a set-up will be the magic pill that she is looking for.
I yell out "set-up request on table 6" and continue dealing the next hand. When the action reaches the 9s she places a stack of about 8 chips on her cards and leans back in her chair. I wait a few seconds and then tell her that the action is on her. She knows the action is to her and everyone else at the table knows it's on her. She pauses a few seconds for dramatic effect and then asks me if I want to call the floor. Immediately I look around, assess the situation and wonder what in the hell I've done that would require a floor being called. I ask her why she needs a floor and she states that she asked for a set up. VERY big sigh here. I remind her that I have already called out a set-up request and then I ask her why she wants to punish the table by stopping the action. "I can see that they (the floor/cashier) are not busy and I want to know why they aren't bringing a set up. It's times like this that I'm glad that I don't carry a gun....BUT I can shoot death rays with my eyes. The problem was that my death rays weren't reducing her to a smoldering pile of ashes. I gotta work on those death rays.

I only worked 5 hours today. That's become a disturbing trend lately. 5-6 hours and out.
After work I headed to Bellagio to meet Linda. I jumped into a 4-8 limit game with Marie and Linda joined us a few minutes after that. Jim aka the Monkey from Colorado is in town and he moved down from his $30-60 game to socialize with us.
Let me be the first to tell you that Linda took a hammer, yes THE hammer, and bashed in my skull. I'm pretty sure that it was $12 to go pre-flop and I distinctly remember Linda telling me that I was going to be sorry for raising it. Somewhere around the turn Linda told me to take a deep breath. She thought I was going to need it after getting hammered. Yep, a seven high straight took it down. Funny, but I can't even remember what I had. I ended up winning around $130 in spite of the ol' 7-2 SUITED trick.

The Saturday night roving card party will be moving to Sunday night this week. We'll be meeting at Treasure Island around 6PM. Stop by and say hello/play some cards if you happen to be in town.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

They Come and They Go

Apparently Mr. Sunshine has been "permanently" barred from our room. Nothing is ever permanent in the poker world, but at least for now, we shall not be blessed with his presence.
It is comical to me how different people view abuse and what constitutes it. The old school floormen and even some old school dealers think that today's crop of dealers are spoiled and thin skinned. I can take a whole load of crap from just about anyone but WHY SHOULD I? Why should anyone, in a work environment, be subjected to a blast of crap from the same person for days....weeks...months on end.
For the record, the final straw was him throwing cards at a dealer, again. I was NOT that dealer.
Personally, I say good riddance.
And to the staff of the card room where he condolences.

Ironically, we were the beneficiary **insert heavy sarcasm here***of the Bellagio (allegedly) barring a player. He landed in our NL game on Tuesday. The first time I dealt to him I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. The second time through, he had a sweater. The sweater was a poker dealer at a nearby card room. She was chastising him for not toking. The language drifted from English to Chinese and back again, so I can't begin to imaging the whole scope of the conversation. Basically she was giving him shit for being a stiff. His response was to lecture the table on the toking habits of "professional" players. This is how they do it, he claimed. Each time he would muck his cards he would mumble, to the sweater in particular and to me indirectly, something about the crappy cards and was he supposed to toke for that?
Get a grip dude. Do what your conscience tells you to do. Just ShutTFU about it already.
The funny part is that the rest of the table was OVER toking out of spite or in order to rub it in his face/keep him on tilt.
If anyone at the Bellagio wants him back, just come and get him.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

How many hands can I get out in 30 minutes?

People often ask how many hands a dealer can deal in an hour. The cynical side of me assumes that they are simply trying to figure out how much money dealers can make in an hour. My typical answer is that anyone should be able to get out at least 30 hands in an hour. Of course there are many factors that come into play. Shuffle master? Experienced players? Lots of hands going to a showdown?
Saturday, on my first table, conditions seemed optimal so I decided to experiment. Nearly everyone at the table was a regular and there were no drama queens, sunglasses, or headsets to be found. I started pumping out hands and I placed a quarter in the far right tube every time I dealt a hand. Thirty minutes later when I got pushed I had 32 quarters set aside. That's probably a personal best, but I don't have a desire to top it. I'd rather just have a game that moves along at a reasonable pace. It really isn't a speed contest.
I was just curious. Curiosity satisfied.

I heard perhaphs the strangest poker related rumor that I have ever heard. Word on the street is that the Venetian will only open their poker room on weekends. At first consideration, I didn't give any credibility to it at all. Then I started to wonder if a rumor so off-the-wall could even begin to circulate if it didn't have some basis in reality. I'm sticking with my first reaction. It can't be true.....can it?

As of 8AM Saturday the Palms poker room is once again smoke free with the exception of midnight to 8am in the original room. Ironically, the Las Vegas Advisor Question of the Day on Sunday touted the Palms as the only casino that they knew of with a smoking and a non-smoking room. Whoops.
I'll let you all know if the policy changes again. Don't hold your breath, or hold your breath. Or whatever.

On Saturday night Linda's roaming card party was held at Gary and Marie's. They live just east of the strip in a mid-rise condo complex. They have a million dollar view that extends from MGM to the Venetian. Gary jokes that if one tree happened to die that the view would include Wynn. He mentioned something about copper nails being driven into tree trunks and the detrimental effect they could have on trees. Putting "hits" on trees....only in vegas?
In any case, we played a mixed game that included Badugi. It's the first time that I have played it and, of course, it is as frustrating as any other poker game. Fun, but frustrating.

Sunday I push onto table 8 ($2-5 NL). A semi-regular $2-4 Limit player is in the 1s. I've never seen him play NL. He is L>O>A>D>E>D and the Patron shots were still coming. During my down he got cut off, but that is not my point. On one hand I pushed him a pot that was huge. He looks at the pile of red chips in front of him and says "Murph, take what you want". I sighed the mother of all sighs as I told him that I couldn't do that. I wanted to grab a fistfull of red birds, but I didn't. He ended up giving me $12. Not bad for dealing a hand of poker......but...

And finally, just say NO to machines.

Rumors abound.......
Today I heard that the Venetian poker room would be open 7 days, but only in the evenings.

A friend just sent me this email about the Venetian poker room.
The word over at 2+2 confirmed by a person who says he is a dealer there is that they are going to be running a $500,000 freeroll. To qualify you need to log 50 hours in May 50 hours June and 50 hours in July (or 250 over the three months if not geting 50 in each month) also i understand they will running a bad beat jackpot (with no jackpot drop) and May will offer $2 per hour comps. I can't imagine them doing this and just opening on weekends.

Friday, April 21, 2006

There is a first time for everything.

For the first time in forever, I put down a 4 card flop. Don't even ask how that happened, I have no idea. Of course it had to happen in a NL game.
I can still take pride in never having put down TWO flops like one of our dealers did a year or so ago. She put down a flop and then instead of putting up a turn card, she put another 3-card flop on the board. Hilarious! (Only because I didn't do it.) Rumor is that she has done this more than once, but I can't confirm or deny that rumor.

I've initiated a less-than-scientific poll about the education of casino dealers here . If you happen to be a casino dealer, please take a few seconds to contribute to the poll.

It looks like the lid is finally off of the Beattles-themed Cirque production show to be located at the Mirage. Click here to visit thier site. I've only seen Mystere and Le Reve (not a cirque show, but prety much the same thing). I think I'll see "O" before I see "Love". Read anything you want into that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You can't please all of the people all of the time

So what does a gaggle of poker dealers do when they go to a party? Play poker, of course. What was scheduled for a 3 hour get together turned into a 9-10 hour marathon of playing, drinking, eating and shooting pool. A few brave souls even dared to take a plunge into a frigid pool.
Claudia, thanks for opening your home to us.
You are the hostess with the mostest.

Before heading to the party, I set out to see the
newest casino in Las Vegas. Red Rock Station. It is +/- 10 miles from my place via the 215. The green roofed building is my condo complex. The dark building in the center of the picture is Red Rock Casino.
From a distance, Red Rock appears to be a monstrosity/blight on the landscape. From a closer perspective, I think it tries to blend in with the surrounding.

There is no doubt that the interior of this casino is quite nice. Tons of crystal chandeliers in the form of spheres and rectangles. Some have compared it to the Bellagio/Venetian/Wynn. I wouldn't go quite that far. Elegant? Yes. Over the top? No.

Their chips are, in my opinion, plain and near ugly.

In reading a handfull of poker room reviews I noticed that a single characteristic often results in different reactions. For example one review will blast a property for having dealers who are "all business" while the next review will bemoan the fact that dealers are "chatty". Dealers are slow....dealers are in a speed competition. One will bitch that the place is full of local rocks while the next will complain that the drunk/loose chasers do just that--chase.
Make up your collective mind already.
Get over yourself.
No two people are exactly alike. We all have likes and dislikes. As dealers, most of us are searching for that common ground. Most of us can determine the temperature/temperment of the table before we even sit in the box. Some of us can even adjust to suit the table mood.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mr. Smooth

I arrived at table 9 at the same time as the waitress. The guy in the 5s was trying his best to flirt with/charm the waitress. He told her to "surprise" him with a drink of her choice. She asked him to rule out some drinks that he didn't care for. Just "surprise" me, he said with a twinkle in his eye.
A few minutes later the waitress returned with a blue drink. Turns out it was a Blue Hawaiin, but that is beside the point. For all his flirtations, he was only able to come up with one blue chip to give the waitress. I have news for you, sir. If you are trying to impress the wait staff, a single blue bird just ain't gonna cut it. Another news flash: She ain't going home with you. No way, no how. A handfull of black birds isn't going to do the trick either.
Moral of the story? I have no idea. It just struck me as funny in a sad sort of way.
I wasn't surprised when over the course of the next few hands he nearly tripled-up and chose not to throw me a bone. I guess he wasn't trying to tip his way into MY pants.

Note to cocktail waitress: If blue drink gets you a blue chip--next time try bringing something red, or maybe even a Midori concoction.

Take a look at this article about judging people's character by the way they treat their perceived subordinates--specifically waiters, but easily applicable to casino dealers. You either have class or you don't. There isn't much middle ground.

I push onto table 3- $4-8 Limit. The 7s has no chips in front of him but he does have a $20 bill. He pushes the $20 to me and I start to give him a stack of chips when I stop. Sir, the minimum buy is $40. Oh,OK he says as he leaves the table. The 3s informs me that I am the only dealer that she has ever seen enforce the no short-buy rule. First of all I don't believe that I am the only dealer that enforces this rule. Do I believe that some dealers don't enforce it? Sure. Why? Who the hell knows. It is printed on every one of our game plaques.
The 3s then informs me/the table about a player who did a short buy recently, went on a run, and then left the table. I asked her why she witnessed the short buy and didn't speak up? It's not like she is a meek little creature who never voices her opinion when I am in the box. She said she didn't want to be the bad guy/girl. Hey, game protection is everyone's job. Dealer AND player.
Of course there was the time that I, again, didn't allow someone to short buy. The guy who wanted to short buy was bleeding money, so of course everyone at the table wanted it to be allowed. I still said no. When I asked, sarcastically, if it wasn't my job to protect the game I was told that sometimes the game doesn't want to be protected. That actually made me laugh. You really shouldn't want it both ways, folks. When I start picking and choosing when to apply rules, eventually you will be on the no-fun end of my whim, so don't even go there.
It's a rule for a reason. Live with it.

Iggy sings Beth?

Too funny

Pay Attention!

On Saturday I started on table 3 -$4-8 limit. About halfway through my down the 6s and the 3s go to war. The 6s was unknown to me but the 3s has been playing in our room for longer than I have dealt there. He used to play $2-4 but has recently "moved up" to $4-8. At the showdown the 6s exposed his hand and the 3s mucked face down. The 6s asked to see the 3s hand. I explained to the 6s that it was a live hand and that if the 3s had misread his hand and had the winner he would get the pot. The 6s still wanted to see it. I turned it over. The 3s asked me why I showed his cards?!?
Do you mean to tell me that you have been playing live poker in a Las Vegas casino for at least 2.5 years and you don't know about the "rule" pertaining to asking to see a called hand? Are you shitting me? I expect tourists to sometimes be ignorant about this "rule" but not local regulars. I doubt the possibility of playing for years and never having this situation arise at your table. Hyper-aware? I don't think so. Oblivious? Perhaps.

Later I am dealing a $2-5 blind NL game. The 2s leads out with a $50 bet. The 4s brings out a stack of chips and cuts out $90 without saying a word. I inform the 4s that he must make it a total of $100. The 6s (who had a hand) has a fit and says that the 4s can't raise because he didn't say raise and didn't bring out all $100 in one motion. IMO the 4s clearly intended to raise and since he was two chips short he had no choice but to add $10 to the $90. The floor said it was a raise to $100. The 6s folded. Do any of you work/play where this wouldn't have been handled in the same way?

Can anyone identify the make/model/year of the cars on Fremont Street in this picture? I'm trying to date the picture and I have no real clue. I'm guessing late 1960's. Any help would be appreciated.

**EDIT** My mother thinks that the T-Bird is a 1963. **END EDIT**

Yesterday another dealer and I were discussing the level of activity in our room. It was rather slow for an early Saturday evening. "It could be worse" he said, "Red Rock could be opening in 3 days."

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Blast from the Past

Somewhere back in time, I'm guessing about a year ago, there was an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about a young man who played poker at the Palms. This young man was personable and a pleasure to deal to. I was rather shocked when I read the article which detailed his gambling problem. If I remember correctly, he had lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 in 12 months. He played only $2-4 LIMIT HE. On the surface it sounds like an outrageous sum of money for a $2-4 player, but if you lost $137 a day 365 days in a row the $50,000 is accounted for. The article stated that he was getting help and that he was done with gambling. I had not seen this young man since.
Fast forward to today. He was in the 1s of a $4-8 limit HE game, ramming and jamming. I felt a twinge of guilt as I shook his hand and welcomed him back. Not that I am guilty of anything. I understand, as well as anyone, the siren call of gambling.
I wish him the best.................

By the end of the month we should have a new poker room manager. I'm not at liberty to name a name just yet. In the mean time we have tweaked a few things. In the past, poker players earned comps @ $1 per hour/max $7 per day. The daily max is now $10. You can now use $100 worth of comps a day instead of the previous $50 daily limit. Six upgraded tables are on order for our "smoking" room. These tables will be identical to the tables in our other room. The bad part about these tables is that there is no raised "rail" around the tables and if you are not careful it is rather easy to sail a card right off of the table onto the floor. The good part is that there is a cup holder imbedded at each player position. That makes it easier to square the table. "Right in front of your cup holders folks" as opposed to telling the 2/3 and 8/9 seats that they should be "sharing" the ends of the tables, etc. Unless you've dealt poker you wouldn't believe how a simple thing like squaring the table can cause such grief. You would think that I was asking some players to donate a kidney rather then asking them to move, just one inch, to one side or the other.
After a 9 day absence, my return to the box today was rather uneventful--just like is should be.

They were filming some sort of poker tournament at work today. I honestly didn't pay too much attention to it. I don't know who sponsored it or who won it. While I was dealing a $2-4 limit game, a young couple from NY was inquiring about famous poker players who have played at our place. As if on cue, Jennifer H. appeared just outside the room. They seemed impressed. I just kept dealing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

There's no place like home

Barton, Maryland is a tiny community situated in the George's Creek Valley of Western Maryland. The 2000 census listed 478 souls living there. I would suspect that the population has declined since then. The area is geographically beautiful, but economically depressed. Perhaps not too surprising is the fact that on Thursday nights there is a NL Hold'em tournament held at the local American Legion Hall. I was invited, but declined. I'm told that 20 players showed up last week. $10 buy in with three places paid. On Friday and Saturday the poker action moves two towns north to Midland, Maryland. Poker has indeed infiltrated every nook and cranny of America.
Although I didn't play any poker on this trip, I didn't escape poker entirely. My sister baked a belated birthday cake and decorated it, with the help of my nephew, in a poker theme. It was appropriate since poker butters my bread and allows me not to have to eat cake.

David, my nephew, is 82 days shy of his 5th birthday. The next time I see him, he will be in Las Vegas because that is where he wants to have his birthday party this year. He wants a "Poker Chip Party". So be it. A poker chip party we shall have. Anyone have any ideas? Send them my way.
David kept me busy from sun-up to sun down. We played in the sand box, we played Army, we played cards (Old Maid and Go Fish), we shot rockets, we played race cars, we had a dog show, we played T-Ball (I hope his T-Ball coach is a patient man-- When we were playing and I was trying to show him how to stand and how to hold the bat he just said "Let me do it MY way"), we played transformers and twice we invaded the toy department at Wal-Mart to empty their shelves. To put it mildly, this kid has a few toys.

This trip also served as a mini-reunion. I was able to visit with most of both sides of the family. It is always nice for everyone to get together and it doesn't happen often enough. I don't expect to be home again in 2006 and unless Maryland gets off of it's ass and approves casino gambling I don't guess that I will be living there again any time soon. It will happen eventually, but the wheels are turning awfully slow. Soon the state will be surrounded with West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware offering slots and NJ offering full blown casinos. I would expect WV to go full blown within a year or two so that should offer an opportunity to do what I do closer to "home".

The pictures below were taken from about 40,000 feet. The plane ride was bumpier than hell, so the pilot climbed higher in an effort to find less turbulent air. I think we were somewhere over Colorado. As many times as I have flown to and from Las Vegas I have never before noticed anything like this. I know nothing about agriculture, but I have to assume that there is a reason to plant crops in circular rather than square fields. This tapestry stretched for mile upon mile and, quite frankly, it started to freak me out after about 10 minutes of it. Is this how we communicate with the aliens?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Stealing from your fellow dealers should ensure that you have a special corner of hell reserved just for you.
I guess I'll add that this theft is alleged although it seems he was caught red handed.
I heard that this guy owns SEVEN houses in Las Vegas. Not bad for a casino dealer, huh?
I guess if you stole $2,500 tax free dollars per day, three or four days a week for 10 or 11 years that you could afford a whole lotta houses.
If this happened only ONE day a week for 10 years it amounts to $1,300,000.

Copied and pasted from an online dealers forum:

BamBam was a dealer at Hard Rock for many years - I'm pretty sure he there since opening so 11 years but I won't swear to that. He was on the toke committee for most of that time. He was a model employee - talking the talk and walking the walk. He even taught many of you at school.The toke committee was cutting tokes this morning and a keen committee member (I won't mention his name but thank you C.R.) told everyone to stop and asked Bam to empty out his pockets. He pulled out $2500.Guys, he's not stealing from the company - he's taking money directly out of our pockets. We all need to be especially aware of what's going on with our toke committee's. We need to watch and be careful. You can't completely trust anyone. The last two people that we caught were both the types that people would be shocked - "Oh no! I can't believe HE would do that!" The last dealer that was taken out of Hard Rock in handcuffs for stealing tokes is now a dealer at Suncoast. These theives are all around us. Don't be lax in taking care of your money.It was always my understanding that the casino's wouldn't prosecute because it was dealer money - not theirs and that the toke committee would have to hire their own attorney. Does anyone really know what the laws are in this type of circumstance? I see on the inmate form that BamBam is being held for a felony charge but is there any way to get restitution for anything else? I heard that one dealer called the IRS since he seems to own a lot more property than can be easily explained but what else can be done? When someone is stealing tokes, how can you prove anything else besides what you found in his grubby little hands? Does anyone really believe that the $2500 was his first and only time taking money? What about the other 11 years that he's been on and off the toke committee? Unless they find out who's been cashing in the chips, there doesn't seem to be anyway to find out how much he's really into us for.Any thoughts or stories?""

Monday, April 03, 2006

Where was #3 AGAIN?

Less than 72 hours after the last Keno jackpot I, again, hit 8/9. Once again #3 refused to rear it's head. The difference between what you see and what you see PLUS #3 is $3,487.50. Sigh.
I hit this one about 15 minutes before I had to start work. Consequently, I didn't have much interest in dealing. I did muddle through for 3 hours before getting the EO. I only dealt for 2 of those three hours, but I managed to encounter an "issue" in those two short hours. A problem child that I have written about before again showed his ass, so to speak. He was folding as soon as he looked at his cards, regardless of whether the action was on him or not. He wasn't tossing his cards toward the muck, he was just pushing them a few inches toward the center of the table and leaving them there, unprotected. I've asked and asked him to wait his turn. For the umpteenth time I asked him not to fold out of turn. Not an unreasonable request. His response, on the next hand was to wait his turn and then to launch them into orbit with one of the cards flipping over and the other one landing on the edge of the table. In retrospect I should have knocked it another inch or two onto the floor. I just glared at him. The next hand he propelled the cards into my hand. I sternly told him to NOT throw the cards at me while calling the floorman. I then got pushed and left him to wallow in his own "happiness". An hour later he cornered me and apologized. "I'll be good, Murph, I promise. I simply said "Don't make promises" and walked away. What I left out was the part about not making promises that you have NO INTENTION of keeping.
I later giggled my way through a $2/5 blind NL game. The lady in the 4s was "affected by the alcohol" and kept telling the man in the 3s how she would have KILLED him and any of his friends in her younger years. She wasn't indicating that she was a murderess, but rather that her sexual skills were too much for any two men to handle. This, sprinked with other innuendo and less than subtle comments had the 3s all "hot and bothered". I still don't know if the 3s and4s were a couple or not. At times I though that they knew each other and other times it seemed as if they had just met. She was relentless and I was amused. It wasn't your typical 30 minutes in the box.
Saturday after work I headed to the Tuscany to meet up with the Saturday Night Card Party group. I hadn't been to Tuscany since they opened their room. It is located just inside the front doors to the right where the lounge used to be. During the conversion, they didn't remove the bar. Maybe it will again become a lounge if/when the poker room closes. There was no bartender/liquor, but the physical bar was still there and smoking was allowed at the "bar" which was about 3 feet from one of their 5 tables. When I arrived, there was only one game in progress. It was a $3/6 limit game and I jumped on the list. The game was spirited and despite being up over a rack, I escaped with a $1 win. Hey, it's a win in any case. After cashing out, Linda and I hit the keno machines. The machines were me at least.
After adjusting for the time change I got home at 4AM and wondered if I would wake up in time for work. I did.
Tonight after work/machines I headed to Ellis Island for their $4.95 steak special. I have probably had this special 40 or so times. Each and every time the steak has been very good. Tonight was the exception. Not that it was horrible, but it was a little on the tough side. It's hard to complain when it is priced so cheaply, but with their excellent track record I was a little disappointed. I'll give them another chance in the near future. Everyone is entitled to an off day once in awhile.
One more day of work and then I head to Maryland for a family visit. It seems that you can go home again......if only for a week.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas changes it's name

To the "Soft Rock Hotel"

April Fools!

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