December 31, 2001

All swing shift employees had to be at work by 6 p.m. and were scheduled to work until 4:30 a.m. Reason? The entire strip is locked down by 7 p.m. and nothing moves across it or by it until sometime around 3 a.m. – except bodies…thousands of partying bodies.

Just getting into employee parking was a nightmare. If you allow three feet between your vehicle and the one in front of you, someone cuts in with reckless abandon…frustration supreme here.

Surprisingly, the poker room was packed. In past years it’s common to sit dead-spreads for hours because there are normally about 15 games running out of 30. Not so on this night. We didn’t have enough dealers to man the games. At 4:30 a.m. there were still approximately 20 games running. It was a long, noisy night. I worked my 10 1/2 hour shift and escaped…many of my fellow employees were there much longer.

At midnight I was dealing a $1-$5 limit 7 Card Stud game…I barely noticed the rejoicing of the New Year…throughout the room other players left their chips on the table and went out to the Strip to watch the Fireworks Display…not the players in my game, they wanted to play so I dealt. Hello 2002!

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December 28, 2001

Poker is always a wild rush from Christmas to New Years….yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone thinks it’s dead because the holidays are upon us and people are home with their families…wrong! The expected rate of visitors is somewhere around 1.5 million from Christmas to New Years and it felt like it happened again this year.

I had one major ‘scream out’ with a player at the end of a noisy and hectic week. It was about the 7th hour of my shift, the room was full, microphones blasting, people milling, confusion running rampant throughout the room and I happened into the main game of $20-$40 Omaha 8 or Better and my 2nd to the last down of my night. I had just come through high limit and would be going to more high limit after this game.

Apparently a deck change had been requested too many times because the players told me the deck was to be changed every half hour instead of by request and the Brush just hadn’t brought over the sign yet. I called for a set-up as both decks were used. Timothy brought the set-up and I also asked him for a ‘Deck Change’ sign for the table. People were talking to me as the exchange was going on and as I put one deck in the well, N.Y. in the 2 seat, said, “Use the blue deck, we just had the red deck.”

I said, “Ok.” as I pulled the decks out to switch them.

He continued with, “Pay attention. You know what deck you are supposed to use.”

I said, “Ok.”

He continued, “Just do your job! You are supposed to be paying attention to what you’re doing.”

I said, “Sorry, I’m tired. I made a mistake.”

He still went on, “Pay attention! Just do your job. You’re supposed to use the other deck.”

Alright, I’d had it by then, I slammed my hand down on the table, which got everyone’s attention, looked him directly in the eye, and retorted, “O-K!!!!”

Still he went on, “Do your Fucking job the way you’re supposed to. Just shut the Fuck up and deal!”

I literally screamed, “Decision, table 6!”

Everyone in the room knew something was going on.

Fred came to my rescue; I explained the situation to Fred, (while N.Y. tried to interrupt me with his version, Fred told him to be quiet while he listened to the dealer).

N.Y. said to me, “You told me to shut up.”

I replied, “You are incorrect, sir.”

N.Y. then replied, “You yelled at me first.”

I replied, “You are incorrect, sir.”

Fred told N.Y. not to say one more word or he would be cashed out for the night. Fred walked away and N.Y. was silent. Of course he won the next three pots and stiffed me but it was what I expected. Three players got up from the game and went to Fred and took my side of it…thanks guys! But why don’t you just speak up while all the shit’s going on? You could stop a noisy, butthead player at any time by just getting in their face.

N.Y. is a poker player’s dream opponent…he plays every hand, goes on small rushes but gives back everything, and more, all the while he’s fuming and blaming everyone else for his beats. I’ll take the blame; it’s pretty painless…but honestly, swearing at me over the color of a deck…come on, Dude, show a little class.

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December 26, 2001

Sometimes I think there is too much to write about and sometimes there is nothing to write about…this post is lengthy…perhaps it’s because I had a great conversation with two people that I respect and admire after we clocked out of work tonight…perhaps it’s because I’m having my 3rd glass of wine; whatever the case here it is…

Poker is an intricate tangle of people – bringing us together for countless reasons…out of all of those reasons…there are those of us that work in the industry and really do try to do our jobs with pride and integrity; not because of you, but because we believe in ourselves and strive to excel…we pick up the load when others in our industry fail…we smile when we’d prefer to tell you to go hell…we see you at your worst and best but we still treat you as a person when we come in contact with you…there’s no bonus for us, just our own satisfaction that we did the best we could do with what we had to work with. Yes…poker is a customer service job but that doesn’t mean the customer is always right. Having said this, I have to move on to something that is bothering a lot of us at Bellagio.

I work swing shift, that’s 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Our policy at Bellagio was always the day shift supervisor had Saturday and Sunday off and the swing shift supervisor had Monday and Tuesday off. That left us with a relief supervisor that worked Saturday and Sunday days and Monday and Tuesday swing shift. Bill Cheek was our relief supervisor since opening. Bill has been ill for quite some time and rarely put in an appearance on swing shift or day shift for that matter. For almost two years Pete Popovich has filled in for Bill on swing.

Pete is an unusual man. He’s quiet, easy to get along with, thoughtful, does his job very well and originally held the position of the High Limit Brush Relief on Monday and Tuesday and worked the 7 Card Stud section on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Pete worked so many shifts for Bill that most of us never expected to see Bill, we expected to see Pete. This put Pete in charge of the Dealer line up at shift changes, overall decision making and in charge of the Bellagio Poker Room.

Recently Bill Cheek resigned due to medical reasons. To our shock and dismay, Pete has been displaced/replaced by Debbie C. – dayshift high limit brush and Bill’s relief on Saturday and Sunday. The shock and dismay is not because we dislike Debbie or feel she can’t handle the job…the shock is because Pete did/does a great job and it’s not necessary to replace him with anyone…in other words, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

All of us on swing shift are questioning this decision; as a player in our room, perhaps you should be questioning it also.

The next thought that crosses my wine drenched brain…the subject of Mike Danino AKA Israeli Mike. I have a history with Mike, it’s not pretty – although when I first me him he treated me as if I were human – it goes back to the Mirage days. One incident that started the downslide in our relationship happened at the Mirage. I dealt an eight handed $75-$150 stud game; Jack Graflund was in the 1 seat, Mike Danino was in the 5 seat, stranger in the 8 seat. The 8 seat was high on sixth street and checked, Jack checked, Mike raised his arms – as if ‘what am I to do?’ – I tapped the table and burned and turned off the river. Mike went a little bonkers with me and said he hadn’t checked. Everyone interpreted his motion as a check except him. For weeks after that he walked around me saying “tip suspension,” when he saw me…I countered by raising my arms and saying, “Check.”

After Bellagio opened, his attitude became more negative and hostile. One day he threw his cards into my side from the 7 seat when he lost a hand. I said, “Set them down.”

He started in with me, “Oh you want to be a smart ass, huh? You want to make something of it?”

I called for a decision. Carmen came to the table; I told her the circumstances and she told him to just do as I asked. After she walked off, he started in again, “You want to make a big deal of it? You want to tell on the players?”

I yelled for a decision again and when she returned, I told her that I just wanted to deal without the interference from the 7 seat. I opened my hand towards him as I spoke. She told him to drop it.

Since I do not hold grudges or resentment towards players, the next day when I came in to work, Mike was talking to Carmen. I walked up to speak to her and passing Mike, I said, “Hi Mike.”

He started in…”For what you did to me, I would not take from my own mother. (He opened his hand towards me in the same manner I had opened mine to him in the game the night before). I can make a call out of the casino and have you taken care of. For what you did to me, you can get Fucked!”

Very calmly, I said, “No Mike, you can get Fucked!” and walked off.

He just threatened to have me killed, told me to have unilateral sex with myself…simply because I deal poker and don’t want to put up with his bad behavior and antics…did I forget to mention here somewhere that he’s Israeli and that since I’m a woman, I’m less than a 2nd class citizen?

One time he threw the ‘no pot splitting’ sign on the table as I was dealing a game he was playing in. The other side of the sign reads ‘pot splitting permitted’. I asked, “Which side?”

He didn’t answer…another player asked him why he didn’t answer me, Mike stated, “She hates me and I hate her. We do not talk to each other.”

This is ludicrous…I would never give up enough energy to anyone to hate them.

Well the long and the short of it is that I’ve called for a decision more than once because of his behavior since then. I’ve written incidence reports on his behavior and turned them in to my supervisor. I’m far from being the only dealer that’s had a problem with him in the last five years and now we come to the crux of it all…on the 21st of December, he had Pete Popovich give all of the dealers on swing shift a note that read ‘Merry Christmas. Have a drink on me’ with a $10 bill enclosed in it.

Is there some spark of humanity here? He’s borderline for being 86′d out of the card room and has been 86′d before for a 24 hour period…once because he threw cards and hit another player.

After all of his bad behavior and sick attitude, should we now think he’s magnanimous and wonderful because he gave us a $10 bill for a drink? Hardly! I accepted the anonymous note and the $10 bill before I knew where it came from…that was my Friday. I came back to work on Monday night and passed him in the casino. I looked directly at him and said, “Thanks Mike!” He looked at me as if I was from Mars and went on by.

One of our dealers just wrote an incident report on him tonight…so how much has he changed??? Go figure.

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Merry Christmas! 2001

I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas night with my friends…yes, poker players gathered around me as I dealt game after game. The casino was packed, over 500 people stood in the buffet line; the poker room was busier on Christmas Eve than it was on Christmas night but still busy.

Reminiscing brought back the first year the Mirage was open…November 17, 1989; on Christmas Eve we still had 31 tables going at 6 a.m.; 25 of us on swing shift worked overtime. See…I told you poker players have no home.

I dealt to Johnny Chan on Christmas Night…please hold the ooohs and aaahhhs. All of the youngsters that have watched Rounders think that he’s the best of the best; I do not agree. The best of the best don’t steam or think the dealer did something to cause them to lose a hand; they just play it out because they know in the long run they will take home the bacon. Chip Reese has my vote here, no whining, no crying – just get the ‘Mother’ on.

Mike Matusow was in the game with Johnny Chan, it was four handed, $400-$800 7 Card Stud 8 or Better and Omaha 8 or Better. Mike is quite a story. He used to deal at Sam’s Town. He’s noisy, mouthy, egotistical, and those are his good points but he’s not mean or malicious…Johnny is. Mike paid Johnny off in a few hands and made comments about himself, “I’m an empty chair…I’m the worst player in the world.”

On a day that Mike is winning…when he’s dragging chips, “Thanks you guys for coming in today and giving me your money…It’s great; knowing that whenever I need money, I just come in and you guys are here for me!…You all play so bad that you can’t possibly win, that’s why I’m here.”

I’ve often wondered who talks the most, Mike Matusow or Sam Grizzle. Biggest difference is that Mike plays his own money or is staked by someone, Sam just hangs on the rail always waiting for a sucker to put him in the game. Sam talks a great game, but can he actually play it? If he’s so great, why is he always looking for a stake horse?

Sam was sitting at the table during this game…not as a player but a rail bird. He tried finessing Johnny, “As a matter of fact, Johnny, you’re the 1st player that ever saw my potential as a player.”

It didn’t work, Johnny never handed him money to get into a game.

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Andy had the corporation beat

My first game of the night was on table 1, $300-$600 Stud, the game was 4 handed and the conversation veered to the ‘big game’.  This is the way it was stated from the players – I never asked any questions or said a word, just listened to the conversation. Continue reading

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December 13-14, 2001

On the 13th and 14th, I played poker during most of my shift…my wrist still isn’t/wasn’t as happy as it could be and a very good friend of mine was in town that I’d met in Montana years ago…Tom Lind…he lives in AZ now. Also my friend, Jim AKA The Monkey, from Colorado was here.

On the 13th, Jim and I played in a $4-$8 game after he’d left the $30-$60 game. It was hysterically fun and zany as usual. He makes playing poker fun. We had our ‘hand ranking’ cards in front of us because one guy in the game didn’t know what beat what and I brought the cards to the table for all three of us.

At one point, Jim, me, and the New Player were all in a hand that had been raised, raised, raised pre-flop…on the River, Jim said, “Sir, I’m playing line five!”

Everyone cracked up as Jim pointed to his Hand Ranking Card. Line five is a flush. Of course I threw my hand away but the New Player called. Sure enough, Jim had a flush.

The New Player said, “I’ll admit that I don’t know shit about the game.” He was laughing as he said it.

With a straight face, Jim said, “Sir, if there’s any question, I’ll testify to the fact that you don’t know shit about the game.”

Everyone busted up…including the New Player. We took some beats, we put some beats on each other, and we laughed – we laughed more than we did anything else. This is the way poker should be.

On the 14th, I sat next to my friend, Tom, while my friend Jim was getting his brains beat out in a $30-$60 game. Jim stopped over for a visit a few times and when we left the room for the night, Jim was still there, strapped to the table with leg irons and a grim look on his face. Not a pretty sight for a guy that’s usually a laugh a minute. I haven’t heard from him yet this week so I’m hoping that he’s still alive and hasn’t called the Card Fairy to assist in poker suicide.

During this session of play, I got A-A beat by Q-10 off-suit. Aces are running 26-4 for me. The same guy beat A-A, three times in five hands. He was running pretty darn good.

A young beauty named Chris got in the game with her boyfriend. She was in the 6s and has my vote for winning the WSOP. She was as calm as a cucumber while she was raising the pants off of people and played A-K like it was A-A.

One hand I had Q-Q and raised pre-flop, it was raised and reraised with seven callers. The flop was Q-6-3 with a 6 on the turn…Chris and I ended up heads up and she raised me at least six times on the turn when the 6 hit. I was still sure I had the best of it so I never slowed down. I never saw her hand but at the end of it, she laughed and said, “That was a lot of fun!”

Sure, you’re thinking she was sarcastic…not even. She never blushed, shook or acted distraught, win or lose the hand, her demeanor was the same. We exchanged names and email addresses.

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Andy’s back $10K/$20K

He’s back.  Andy’s been playing $10,000-$20,000 in a rematch against the best of the best in 1 on 1 Freeze-out, Holdem contests.  They had him 6 for 6 from a contest earlier this year.  I’m not sure how he did in the 1st match with Howard L.  I dealt 1 down of that.  The following day Andy played Jennifer, heard he beat her.

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Fern Canyon at Red Rock

Hiking with my friend, Jack, found me taking a fall while we were bouldering in Fern Canyon at Red Rock Canyon. Guess I thought I was Sly Stallone doing a Cliff Hanger trick. It hurt like hell…very lucky I didn’t break my wrist. It’s still painful and I definitely know it’s there when I try some movements and strength moves with the hand and wrist. Time will heal all. :-)

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No outs with Mike Danino

Just one of the reasons that I don’t get along with Mike Danino. $300-$600 7 Card Stud – 8 handed – the 4 and 8 seats are walking. Notaris is involved in this story also…he seems to be a catalyst for strange incidents. Continue reading

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Ted Forrest spot checks the cash

I dealt the $3,000-$6,000 to Doyle Brunson, Ted Forrest, Eli Elezra. H-y-s-t-e-r-i-c-a-l! Doyle had a brick of $100 bills that were rubber banded into $5,000 bundles and then bundled together…he also had three sets of two brown envelopes that were taped together which held cash but were unopened. Carmen Bates (High limit brush) came to the table on an errand and Doyle threw all of it at her and asked her to ‘put it on account’. That would mean a trip to the main cage and all of it would have to be counted down. Continue reading

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