Monday, January 25, 2010
Sam is a Frenchman with a slight build and an indecipherable accent. While the French have a reputation of being stylish dressers, Sam’s style, both in dress and manner, is not representative of the French culture. He does have a certain joie de vivre, infectious and fun, but none of the je ne sais quoi traditionally associated with the French. He wears white socks with plaid pants. He wears striped ties with striped shirts. He wears a beret on his head with a full-sized cowboy belt buckle on his belly. It is safe to say that Sam is eccentric. More importantly, no one has ever enjoyed playing poker poorly more than Sam.
Sam has never bought his own drink, never had anyone doubt his dubious tales about his exploits, never been questioned on his poker play and has plenty of sympathetic ears for his “bad luck” stories. In fact, when Sam is in the game, there is no doubt that the whole evening is all about him. The man will drop several thousand dollars into the game, so why upset the applecart? There is a contract between the players and Sam which, in the final analysis, is intuitively perceived and agreed to by both parties; Sam gets to be the center of attention, to say what he wants, be whomever he wants for the night, and the poker players, well, they get to make money. Everyone is happy.
Enter Dipstick Dan, a cocky young player with slicked-back hair, an annoying giggle when he wins a hand and an even more annoying temper tantrum when he loses one. Dipstick Dan seems completely unaware of the existence of anyone but Dipstick Dan. While we occasionally get poker players in our club who are still wet behind the years, Dipstick Dan is unique because his entire body is still underwater.
Immediately upon his appearance at the table, Dipstick Dan began to criticize and needle Sam, spouting off his knowledge of odds, outs, mathematically proper game play and a whole host of things of which Sam is scarcely aware. A man of considerable means, Sam not only doesn’t care about these things- he doesn’t even care that he doesn’t care. Able to buy and sell any man at the table, a few hundred or a few thousand spent having a great time and being the center of attention is money well spent to Sam. However, Dan’s annoying banter was beginning to bring Sam down, so the whole system began to fail. This was a problem.
We didn’t have the time, as a group, to convince Dipstick Dan to shut his mouth, and removing his head from where it was lodged required major surgery, so a bold, swift plan of action was required if the game was to be saved this night. Since we had Sam chauffeured to the club (by yours truly), I arranged to have one of the other poker players (with the majority of the chips on the table) say he had to leave, offering to drive Sam home immediately. I even brought them racks. After they went to the cage to cash out, Dipstick Dan was on their heels. They all received their money, shook hands and we waited. Soon Dipstick Dan was gone, and Sam and the other player bought back in for the same amount they were just paid.
It would be nice to report that the plan went off without a hitch. It actually did, right up to the point where Dipstick Dan came back from the bathroom to see both Sam and the other player back in their seats.
As Dipstick Dan left the poker room that night, a loud popping noise served as confirmation that he had experienced a spiritual awakening. Extreme social embarrassment had accomplished the recto-cranial removal, at least for one night. Oh, and Sam got to drink, tell wild stories and thoroughly enjoy his evening.
TALES FROM THE FLOOR is written anonymously by the manager of a small, Northern California card room. The intent is to offer anecdotal insight into the poker world, as seen through the eyes of an industry professional. Some elements of the stories are changed to baffle and confuse involved parties who may be reading their own stories. In other cases, the whole article may be a complete fabrication to baffle and confuse everyone.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Big Ed, a former WWF wrestler-turned-poker-player is a solid player who has made his living off the weaker players at our room for over a year, grinding out profits nearly every session. After a runner-runner beat in our $5-$10 game this week, he stormed out, cell phone in one hand, text-messaging everyone who might read that he will never play in our room again, again. This is a biweekly event for Big Ed. A man of considerable emotion, the swings in his moods vary far more than his chip stack ever has. Apparently, the big guy doesn’t like to lose. While straightening out fallacious reasoning wasn’t in the training manual, it seems to be a part of the job around these parts. After a one-day “cooling off” period, he will get a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on and a gentle reminder about the nature of math and the phenomenon we call variance. At least Big Ed didn’t drop-kick his opponent this time, so our counseling efforts are beginning to pay off.
Erik the Viking is another “special needs” player. A former runway model, his career and life dramatically changed about two years ago when a tragic and embarrassing wardrobe malfunction brought his modeling career to an abrupt end and put him on the outs with the New York crowd. A regular in our little club, the most common eddy in his stream of thought is this: “There are too many bad players! I can’t win!” The Viking is a true rounder, making a reasonable living off small-stakes hold-em games in local clubs and casinos for over two years. While it seems silly at times, assuring Erik that games with weak players are better than games with strong players is a weekly event.
Fast Freddy is a local beet farmer who is a little rough around the edges. Conversing with him is about as comfortable as petting a porcupine, except that the quills all face the same direction on a porcupine. While so-called “magical thinking” is common among gamblers, in Fast Freddy’s case, it does present a few challenges to the management of the room, so we talk about it. “Lucky seats”, “hot cards”, “rushes” and “lucky dealers” lead to perpetual seat changes, sitting out when a particular dealer is in and creating havoc in the game by raising every time you get a 4 of clubs dealt to him. This leads, in turn, to a whole new round of counseling sessions we have to provide the other players and staff. While the counseling sessions with Freddy are about as profitable as investing in a covered-wagon manufacturing firm, they must be done. The only bright spot in the whole thing is that Fast Freddy only plays on dates with the numbers 7 or 3 in them, so we don’t have to address the issues often.
When choosing a poker counselor, it might be better to look on-line, rather than to rely on your local card room manager. After all, his only interest is in keeping a rag-tag group of misfits and cretins coming back every night to play more poker. More to the point, anyone twisted enough to do this job is not likely to be the best guide for the fecund poker player. If he could beat this game, he would be on the other side of the table, right?
TALES FROM THE FLOOR is written anonymously by the manager of a small, Northern California cardroom. The intent is to offer anecdotes and insight into the world of poker through the eyes of Johnny Coldeck. It should be said that Mr. Coldeck is not a certified counselor, though his years as a mental patient have given him some skills in that department. Although the counseling sessions have obviously been a colossal failure, knowing the right psychological lingo seems to have been enough for him to be able to counsel the occasional lost soul at the poker tables.
Friday, November 13, 2009
When Tony Campinelli first came into our little club, he was immediately liked and respected. A true gentleman (they are rare in our corner of the world), Tony was always immaculately dressed and very pleasant to all the staff and players. In fact, he would never take a seat at the table without personally greeting and shaking hands with everyone at the room. Unusually quiet at the table and vague about his personal affairs, it took almost a year for his real occupation to occur to us. He would often be out of town on “business” for a few days, and would always have an obscure answer about his activities upon his return. He claimed to be the CEO of some indecipherable company related to computer software, but something always struck us as just a little off, as his bankroll was in fresh $100 bills. We ruled out the international pharmaceutical trade as a possibility, because it didn’t seem a good fit for a well-mannered, middle-aged man in Armani suits, wing-tips and a Fedora. At every holiday, Tony would bring gifts to each of the staff- extravagant gifts which none of us would ever be able to afford. We are not the sharpest group of people, as a rule, but we finally pooled our collective intelligence and dubbed him “Hitman Tony”. Out of respect and fear, Hitman Tony becomes “Tony Two-Tone” when he is not away on one of his business trips. We don’t see a lot of people wearing wing-tips around here.
Pao’ li (we pronounce it like “Pauly”), twenty-something years old and from some random Polynesian Island, came to our club about a year ago. Like Hitman Tony, he was always immaculately dressed in clothing which had more resale value than any of the other players’ cars. His gold chains alone (we won’t even discuss the rings) would purchase any house in this neighborhood, but there seemed to be something else, something indefinable, about the way he carried himself. He had a way of expecting, and getting, special treatment from the staff and players, leading to us to name him Prima Donna Pauly. It was actually a very strange phenomenon, and it was almost a year before the truth came out. A customer came into the bar one night this week and he began acting very strangely around Paul. Strange behavior usually goes unnoticed around these parts, but when the customer genuflected and began kissing the feet of Prima Donna Pauly, we could no longer avoid asking questions. At the cost a few beers, I was able to extract the back story from the visitor. He turned out to be from the same small island as Pauly. He claimed that Prima Donna Pauly had been the crown prince of this little island in the South Seas, and was scheduled to be married. It was an arranged marriage; he had never even seen his bride-to-be, and they were strictly forbidden from speaking. This did not sit well with Pauly, who came to the United States six years ago on a two-week Visitor’s Visa and has not returned to his home country. We were obliged to change his moniker from “Prima Donna Pauly” to “Prince Pauly”. While it is obvious this name makes him a little uneasy, he has accepted it with the grace of a Royal, so it will probably stick.
Tom, appearing by dress and behavior as the quintessential blue collar worker, appeared in our club some years back. Unassuming and seemingly polite upon his arrival at our club, we all wrongly assumed he was normal. Although he seemed to only own a couple of tattered t-shirts and the one pair of sandals, he appeared to take interest in the poker table conversation, but never really participated. After a few years, we began to suspect, as a group, that Tom actually wasn’t aware of what was being discussed on the table, but he was still quiet and polite, so the conversations on sports, work and home lives simply went on without him. One day, something changed. Tom began to feel comfortable enough with his surroundings to attempt to participate in our conversations. There was a problem, however; his attempts at communication usually consisted of him blurting out some totally random thought, unrelated to the topic at hand and generally having something to do with bowel movements or small animals, or both. The nickname, “Tourette Tom” was the simplest and most obvious choice.
The next time you hear a nickname at the card table, you might wish to pause and reflect about just how and why the name came to be. Unless you can figure it out on your own, however, asking about it might be a bad idea. In a case like Hitman Tony, it may actually be bad for your health.
Tales From the Floor is written anonymously by the even more anonymous Johnny Coldeck, manager of a small, Northern California card room. Of the various and sundry poker nicknames over the years, the one which seems to have taken on common usage when referring to Mr. Coldeck is unprintable in this fine family magazine. Don’t ask.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
By Johnny Coldeck
A lot of players seem to envy me for the job I have. I mean, on the surface, helping other people play games every night, joking with the players and making the occasional game decision seems like a pretty good gig, but it’s really not all strawberries and orgasms. There are a few situations which require tough judgment calls, and this job is not for the faint of heart.
We hired a new poker dealer this month, and we have discovered just how insufficient the interview/audition process is for our little club. It took all of a week for our players to dub him “Jimmy the Geek”, partly because he is handy with a keyboard, but mostly because “Sammy the Spaz” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. With a big, toothy grin and a, “What are you guys talking about?” look on his face all the time, he is impossible not to like. He turns beet red when a woman speaks about him, near him or (if it ever happens) to him, and Jimmy the Geek is easily the least coordinated young man any of us have ever met. He has fallen down at least three times since he started working here, each time in spectacularly slow motion, and not, as far as any of us can tell, for any reason whatsoever (although there was a female nearby during two if the incidents). It’s a real head-scratcher to all of us, and while the Daffy Duck/Charlie Chaplin/Quaalude-overdose routine is a source of intense belly laughs for all of us, I have become a little concerned and told him to get his inner ear checked out by a certified physician, because it’s just not right! The area where Jimmy the Geek seems to excel is in growing a beard. His five-o’clock-shadow seems to cross the International Dateline before work every single day. Now, it is my job to talk to the dealers about grooming issues, but the mental picture I have of Jimmy the Geek alone in his bathroom with a razor in his hand is far too disturbing and if anyone is going to be responsible for a horrific scene like that, it sure won’t be me. Anyway, he is a great kid and a lot of fun to have in the cardroom, so he’s probably going to work out as long as our insurance company doesn’t find out he is here.
Car Dealer Mike, whom you may recall from one of our first stories, has been hanging around the place, not playing poker. Since his huge losses at local casinos, his stints in rehab and his attendance at Gamblers Anonymous meetings, the man has been spending more time at our cardroom. As a floorman, it is difficult to know where to draw the line with washed-out ex-gamblers who hang around for no apparent reason. This is particularly difficult in the case of Car Dealer Mike, who is not a quiet man in the same way in which an apple is not a jellyfish. On one occasion, he actually pulled a $100 bill out to buy into a short game (the game was three-handed with an average stack of $800 and an average pot size of $100 – he is also not a smart man), and told us all that it was okay because it wasn’t his money! We are all aware of his problem, but, hey, I have a job to do, right? Being a bad influence is in my job description (being sympathetic is notably absent from the document), but I had him dealt out a complete round to give him the opportunity to reconsider his decision. Since one of the players threatened to leave and break the game if he bought in, he stuffed somebody’s money back in his slacks. One item of note: in just one month of retirement, Car Dealer Mike has become a true expert at the game of No-Limit Texas Hold-Em in the same way balding businessmen in BMWs become experts at quarterbacking NFL teams! Anyway, I had to draw the line somewhere, so when he sat in one of the empty chairs in a live cash game and studied his GA literature, I did finally pull him outside for a little chat.
The other complex issue at our little cardroom involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages at the poker table. Generally speaking, the kindhearted and loving poker players always offer to buy an intoxicated player a sympathy drink after he closes one eye, looks at his cards and shoves $200 worth of chips into one of their pots with J-3 off. When our bartender politely states that he is on water for the rest of the night, it always causes hard feelings. The player doesn’t want to stop drinking. The other players sure don’t want him to stop drinking, so what is a floor supervisor to do? While I will not interfere with the bar business, for our purpose here in the cardroom, we have adopted the “ATM” cutoff method; if the player can remember his pin number and operate the buttons with no direct assistance, the bar is open and the cards are in the air. As a humanitarian effort, one of our players will always drive the gentleman home after he is no longer able to operate the teller machine. If the ATM cuts him off, so do we.
At first blush, the job of a small cardroom manager looks easy. If you have no marketable skills, it may be the job for you! The training program for this position, which comes highly recommended, is as follows:
1. Spend one year as a kindergarten teacher, preferably in Brooklyn. This will help you work with the poker players.
2. Spend one year as an animal trainer for a circus. This will help you work with the dealers.
3. Spend one year as a Buddhist monk. You’ll need it.
4. Spend one year selling timeshares in Florida. This will be your ethics training.
One word of caution: If you are currently a lawyer attempting to re-train for this position, forget about it. There are some things this job requires which a lawyer just won’t do.
Tales From the Floor is written anonymously by the manager of a small Northern California Cardroom. While the stories told often have a grain of truth, please take them with a grain of salt. Johnny Coldeck has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation for years now with no noticeable results. With no chance of surviving on his own, he was rescued by a band of gypsies and trained to be a poker dealer. Although he was found to have no skills which would qualify him to deal, his years as a fluffer for the pornographic film industry and his ability to juggle made him well suited for the position of floor supervisor. This training program is not recommended.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
List of Cardroom Rules that Don’t Exist and Damn Well Should
1. Same day rule- Players will act on their $3 call on the same day in which the cars are dealt.
2. No pre-fold speech required rule- This one explains itself. The cameras aren’t running, and the other players never care what you should do.
3. Winners can’t talk rule- Nobody cares how well you played the hand. Nobody cares how you would have played the hand if they played it different. Nobody cares how they could have won the pot if they raised the turn. Shut the *^%# up and stack his chips.
4. No giggling rule- There are men at the table. Some of them are losing. Giggling like a schoolgirl is gay.
5. Keep it to the felt rule- Beat your opponents at poker. Don’t threaten them physically or threaten to slash their tires. Unless they need it.
6. No bad beat stories rule- We don’t want to hear it. The staff has heard that one. The other players have heard that one. We don’t feel sorry for you. The other players hope it happens again. Shut up.
7. Conversationally-challenged player rule- There is often a conversation at the poker table. You have no idea what we are all talking about. Smile and look interested. You are clueless. We already know that. Don’t prove it by talking about your job, your dog or that time you went to the beach. We weren’t talking about that, and we don’t care.
8. No hitting on other players rule- Most of them are men. They are straight. Pretend you are the same.
9. It’s a GAME rule- The other players are here to relax and play a game. Relax. Play the game.
10. The Zen Rule- You are here now. You are always here, and it’s always now. No one cares about anything else. Act accordingly.
11. Call for the flop rule- If you yell out for a queen on the flop and the dealer flops a queen, you must bet at least 1/3rd the pot. It’s the rule.
12. “What do you got?” rule- Your opponent will lie to you. Or he might tell the truth. Save us the drama. Fold, call or raise. Flirt later.
13. Hit and Run rule- There is a list of appropriate excuses with the floor man. Use one of those. Rambling on about some random excuse is annoying. It brings the table down. We know why you are leaving, and might believe your excuse if you would just stop talking. Try it.
14. I folded the nuts rule- You folded. No one cares that you would have made a good hand. You are a nit. You should have called.
15. Claiming a hand while dragging chips rule- Look at the board when you claim a hand. Make sure the Jack of Diamonds is not on the board before you claim you had it in your hand. Otherwise, they might piece together the evidence and think you bluffed them.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
TALES FROM THE FLOOR
Let’s be clear on this point: side bets are not legal in our state. Poker can be a tedious activity at times, though, and nothing can stop players from doing what they want. None of these things actually happened. That’s my story.
Side Action- Lottery Pool
The previous custodian of our unofficial player-and-staff lottery pool was River Rat Ricky. A former blues vocalist of some repute, he performed all over the Midwest until he was finally ousted from performing, presumably for aesthetic reasons. Ricky the Rat, as we fondly remember him, was here every night for several years, playing poker very poorly and collecting a five-dollar bill from anyone he could get to join in the weekly lottery pool. He always had some new money-making scheme for all of the players and staff to decline, but we all played the lottery with him.
This is a small community. News about local events usually makes it to my ears about an hour before it happens. The poker-playing community is a subculture, and any dramatic news about poker players gets here two days before it happens. River Rat Ricky never figured this out, so when he won eighteen grand at a local liquor store, he never imagined the news would get back to us. Maybe posing for the Polaroid was a bad idea. He probably recovered less than half his poker losses in the scam, and he hasn’t sat at a poker table in two years. I would have heard.
The current holder of our non-existent lottery pool is Ole Tex. Tex claims to be eighty-something, but we believe he fought in the civil war- on the Confederate side. The consensus among the lottery players is that he is too old to run if the lottery hits, so we feel pretty safe having him hold the tickets. We now have twice the excitement in our pool: we hope we win; and we hope Ole Tex survives the shock of looking down at a winning ticket. We all like Tex.
Side Action- Marriages
Carney Joe, whom you may recall from a previous article, went through a brief separation from his wife in the last month. They are back together now, but Ole Tex has a pool running, as we believe the terms of the new arrangement he has with her will be even briefer than the separation. Carney Joe has agreed to stop playing poker if she limits herself to two cocktails a night! Tex couldn’t pass up the opportunity for side action on this, and there was a bidding war for Valentine’s Day evening. This came and went, but the over/under on the return of Carney Joe has been set at June 30th by a local bookmaker. We’re all following this relationship closely, belying the rumor that poker players have no sympathy for their fellows.
Side Action- Swearing Off
A year and a half. That’s the claim made by Treetop Tom for his return to poker. Ole Tex set the over/under at one month, but there have been no takers on the overs yet. It is really tough for any of our players to get action on this type of prop bet. The standard answer to “#^*#@* this place! I’m never coming back!” is “Geez! Tough beat! See you tomorrow.” Besides, Treetop Tom has a really good day job. We all hope he never swears that off.
Once again, action at the cardrooms in our state is completely limited to the felt. I so swear.
Tales From the Floor is written anonymously by the manager of a small Northern California cardroom. One hundred percent of the stories are fictional, so there is no cause to point and laugh. Not one of the characters exists, and Johnny Coldeck is a ghost. He never saw anything, and is confused about who wrote the article. I so swear.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Johnny Coldeck
I don’t know how it is in other clubs, but opposite-sex pairing opportunities are pretty limited in our little cardroom. If a man is willing to relax his standards a bit, or perhaps eliminate standards altogether, there is a possibility of getting a date at the table. Before all you guys primp and pimp, however, maybe we should examine the selection together.
Our first contestant is Trailer-Park Tammy, a semi-single wealthy business co-owner. Not unattractive and extremely proud of her recently-purchased bosom, she is a potential party partner for the brave soul willing to venture into her personality and unnaturally-pointed appendages. A very sweet lady upon entering the cardroom, she turns just a little rough after a couple of drinks. Well, okay, there are horny truck drivers in Arkansas who would turn red from embarrassment while she is speaking. Another minor peccadillo she has is a tendency to flaunt her wealth whenever she loses a pot. Statements like, “You think I give a *&%# about the two hundred dollars? That’s probably more than you make in a week!” and, “You want to compare W2s? I bet I paid more taxes last year than a little *&%#@* like you has ever made!” are commonplace with Trailer-Park Tammy at the table. Nevertheless, her firmer-than-normal implants (you could put an eye out with those things) and willingness to make new friends do offer possibilities….
For those men who don’t like to talk, there is always Chatterbox Candy, a forty-something part-time card-player and silence-filler extraordinaire. I don’t have the exact figures on the number of words used by the average American each day, but I’d bet dimes to dollars Candy has them quadrupled before breakfast. She doesn’t always play when she comes in the room- sometimes she will just stand behind the players and talk. The patrons and staff have learned to avoid eye contact (a must if you plan on using the latrine in the following two hours) and not to make supportive comments like, ”Really?” and “Hmm” which may further encourage conversation. She also has a potentially-unattractive habit of contorting her face and making a chewing motion (it looks like she is trying to eat her cheekbone), but, not to worry, this only happens when she isn’t talking. For the man of few or no words, however, she is available….
Since I feel the National Organization of Women organizing a march, and I know all the members won’t fit into our little cardroom, perhaps we should turn our attention to the male candidates. Let’s be honest, guys, not many of those sitting around a card table at three a.m. on a Tuesday night are likely to be good catches, okay? But let’s see if we can find some matches for the lovely ladies here.
Contestant Number One is Junkman John, a surprisingly-still-single local business owner in his late thirties. As far as anyone knows, he only owns the one oil-stained blue shirt, nametag on one side and pocket on the other, which has never been washed. We have all wondered why he doesn’t buy some nice clothes- all the money he must save on toothbrushes and deodorant alone should put him in a new Armani suit for each day of the week! Still, ladies, he has some credentials worth mentioning. He is a business owner (five acres of car skeletons with real possibilities!), an animal lover (four mongrel pit bulls sleeping under the junk cars) and has the ability to drink 20-30 shots of Jim Beam and still be loud enough to be heard in three counties (communication is an important part of relationships, right, ladies?) . Anyway, for the woman of vision, show up in our cardroom at two or three in the morning on a Monday night (or whenever you hear a bellowing voice), and I think you have a shot at Junkman John….
We can bring it up a notch with Contestant Number Two, Treetop Tom. With a great job trimming roadside trees for the county and a full benefit package, Tom would definitely be a “catch” for the right lady. Not only that, but he looks like a T.V. star! Okay not really a television star per se, but, well, you know that one advertising campaign, “So easy a caveman could do it”? He looks like that guy, except Tom is a little shorter, more (ahem!) robust in stature, slightly hairier and his skull appears to be a lot thicker. Well let’s just say it- he looks like a cartoon caricature of the caveman guy. Anyway, the right lady would never have to worry about losing an argument to Treetop Tom; he is as intellectually-challenged as his appearance would suggest. Still, it’s a great county benefit package….
Well, there we have it- dating opportunities galore in your local cardroom! Now, I try not to get involved in the personal lives of our patrons, but let’s be sensible here, folks. While there are some wonderful people from all walks of life playing cards all over Northern California, one of the .com sites might be a better option for the lonely hearts in the area. Besides, I already listen to enough bad beat stories….
Tales from the Floor is written anonymously by the manager of a small Northern California cardroom. The intent of the stories is two-fold: to present an industry-eye view of cardroom life; and to give a burned-out, jaded and politically-incorrect cardroom manager a chance to vent. Amazingly, Johnny Coldeck is twice divorced and currently available as well....