Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Every Day I'm Shufflin'

The month of June seemed like it lasted a year. With the WSOP comes added business at all of the poker rooms, including the Mirage. I was working day shifts there 3-4 times per week, and working nights at the WSOP 6 times a week. This often meant a very long work day for me if I was scheduled at both places. On "double" days, I would wake in the morning around 930, get out the door by 10, and arrive at Mirage around 1030. My shift would last until 7pm, leaving me 1 hour to get out of the box and over to Rio for my 8 pm start time. Luckily the Rio is very close to the Mirage...less than a 5 minute drive. The problem was... my house is not close. So, despite needing a shower and change of clothes, there simply wasn't enough time to drive home and back. Luckily for me, my good friends were in town for a month and staying close-by. Just minutes away from both hotels, their RV park served as my pit-stop point on nearly a dozen occasions. Taking full advantage of this convenience, I turned the trunk of my car into a makeshift closet/medicine cabinet. I kept a small suitcase stocked with all the necessary clothes and toiletry items needed to get ready on-the-go. The RV park has private showers and bathrooms. They were more than adequate for my needs and kept in much better condition than what I expected. The only complaint was that it was about 90 degrees inside. That is because it was 110 degrees outside and the poor little air-conditioner simply could not keep up. My solution was to shave and brush my teeth before I showered. That way, I could immediately step outside into the dry heat rather than sweat in the sauna I had created. I would keep my car running, and finish changing in my passenger seat, with the air conditioner blasting. That is, unless Bree was home. Then I would hang out with her and the dogs for a bit before heading off for another 8+ hours of work.

The work itself at the WSOP was mostly enjoyable. Here is how it works: All the dealers assigned to a particular shift gather for a pre-shift meeting. I worked the 8PM shift along with another 100-200 other dealers depending on the day. At this meeting, the lead Dealer Coordinator starts with a roll-call in alphabetical order by last name. When a dealer's name is called, that person will have a choice to deal cash games, tournament, or single-table satellites, depending on which assignnments are available. There are only a certain number if spots in each area on a given night. Some are desired more than others. Often times, the satellite and tournament spots would fill up first, leaving anyone at the end of the list forced to deal the live cash games. Because of this, the DC will start the roll call with a different letter every day as the ensure that everyone gets a fair shot at their desired assignment throughout the series.

For most of the summer, my first choice was almost always "tournament". My reasoning was this: You get paid the same, no matter how many hands you deal. So there is no pressure to be ultra-fast, which often magnifies errors. There are regularly scheduled breaks for the players, during which time the dealer sits at the table and does mostly nothing. I would often spend this time meditating. and stretching my back. Also, since many of the tournaments are No-Limit Hold-Em, the players tend to take longer with their decisions, lessening the amount of hands dealt and the overall amount of movement required. All-in-all, I felt it was easier work that came with a guaranteed return.

My second choice was satellites. At a single-table satellite, the dealer is paid a flat rate for the duration of the 10-person tournament. Satellites generally last between 2-3 hours. It is customary for the winner to tip the dealer. Satellites can be very lucrative if the right person ends up winning. I have been tipped as much as $120 and as little as $10. A dealer can usually deal 2-3 satellites in a single shift. For those that like the idea of money-in-hand, but don't perform well under the pressures of cash games, satellites are the way to go.

The last choice is the Live Games. There are no guarantee of how well one might do financially dealing the cash games, but is almost certain that a dealer will be the subject of at least one angry player's spite. As far as tips go, it all depends on what string of tables you get assigned to. If its low to mid limit hold-em... you're usually gonna do pretty good. The game moves quickly and the recreational players are more likely to tip well, and less likely to throw cards at you or curse you in Arabic. The low-limit guys are usually just tourists out having some fun. They don't have bankroll rules and subsequently don't worry about the amount of money lost by toking the dealer. But, if you get assigned to the high-limit section, you can usually expect to make less and almost always be verbally abused. That is not to say that one cannot do well in the "snake-pit" as it was not-so-affectionately referred to by the dealers. Now and then you'd get a rich amateur that is perfectly happy giving the dealer a nice big tip for a nice big pot. One of my biggest stiffs of the summer came when I was dealing a $500/$1000 mix game that included PLO. I pushed a $117,000 pot to a player and he either forgot to tip me or chose to give me nothing. I will never know, as it is strictly forbidden to solicit a gratuity. By contrast, I was tipped $25 in a $1-$3 game after a player won $300. You just never know... and that's why I preferred not to roll the dice. When all is said and done I think it all averages out no matter what assignment I got... with tournaments being the least stressful, and for the most part downright enjoyable.

I dealt to just about every "Big Name" pro you can think of. Some behaved exactly as they did on TV, and others were surprises. On two different occasions I dealt to Mike Sexton and he was surprisingly grumbly and agitated. Erick Lindgren was super friendly, and even sprinted to an empty table to fetch me another dealer chair when mine sunk to the ground. I dealt Gavin Smith a cooler to bust him from 3 different tournaments. I felt bad for him. Tony Hachem is a real hothead. He seems to personalize things. Shawn Deeb was mostly friendly, and only slightly condescending. Adam Junglen is intimidating. Tom Dwan plays almost every hand no matter what the game is, somehow finds a way to outsmart almost everyone... oh and he runs like GOD. Mostly. Men Nguyen is mostly a cocksucker. Tony Ma is a gentleman. Phil Hellmuth is really tall. Daniel Negreanu is short. Erik Seidel almost never speaks. I think he is a robot sent here to destroy us. Steve Zolotow looks like Doc Brown from back to the future. Scotty Nguyen has a pretty bad stuttering problem and is almost never without a beer. Mike Matusow whines like a child when he loses. Ted Forrest looked like a skeleton at the start of the series and a whole lot healthier by the end. Lauren Kling is really hot. Tony Dunst is friendly and plays pretty tight. Eugene Katchalov raises often. Jerry Yang does not balance his range well. Doyle Brunson is old. Todd Brunson looks exactly like the "Comic Book Buy" from The Simpsons. Like.... exactly. Patrik Antonius is probably an alien. Sam Farha has lots and lots of high denomination chips and bets shitloads of them at a time. Robert Mizrachi is funny. Nick Schulman is self-effacing and likable. David Benyamine is HUGE. His wife is gorgeous. Elky dresses badly. Ben Lamb is a genius on a total heater. Jason Mercier is calculating and confident. Crazy Mike has calmed down a bit and is mostly fun to have at the table. Lars Bonding cashes often. Antonio Esfandiari is nice. Phil Ivey was noticeably absent, as were Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson.

Would I do it again? Hmmm... We will see. If it was a different shift without all the double duty and the nagging injury, I'm sure it would have been a lot easier. But one thing is for certain. Working the WSOP is a heck of a lot more profitable for me than playing in it has been. :)

I will dig through some photos and post them up here soon.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Awesome