I worked in Poker and Blackjack for 35 years starting in Las Vegas in 1973. If you have questions that you would like to ask a professional in the business, here is your chance

All over the internet, when and how the Hell did that happen?

Happy Thanksgiving, David

You might have read about Stu Unger in my posts.
Here is a picture you might like.

Gabe Kaplan, Bobby Baldwin, Stu Ungar, Unknown, Amarillo Slim, Johnny Moss in 1980.

Gabe Kaplan and Amarillo Slim were both fun to deal to.

Happy Thanksgiving, David

Story about a poker dealer in Vegas about 1985, not about me.

This poker dealer worked at the old International casino poker room for about 25 years. Not married, no kids, lived a very simple lifestyle that worked for him. His tips he left work with in his pocket converted into cash. He lived in the downtown area and split an apartment with another dealer. His minimum wage paycheck paid for his part of the room rent. He took the city bus to and from work. The bus stop was literally just outside his apartment building’s front door (no car). He worked day shift in the poker room and every day after work he would go home, change clothes, and head to his favorite casino downtown, the Horseshoe. He had friends in the business that he would often meet there, and they would drink for several hours before each made their own way home for the night. This dealer, I do not remember his name, instead of going home, would walk over to the craps table and play until he lost the rest of his tips for the day. He would then walk home, go to sleep, get up the next day and start the cycle over again, day after day, after day, for years. Then, after 25 years of this same routine, came a very interesting day. After drinking with his friends, he once again found himself at the craps table with I believe I was told $78 dollars and started playing. He won a little, lost a little, won a little, and then it became more than just a little. He got up to over $500 and continued to play having a really good time. He was not used to ever win for the night, and it never occurred to him that he might consider at what point he might want to walk away from the table and go home. $500 became $1000. $1000 became $10,000. $10,000 became $100,000. He was starting to draw a crowd, the table was full with people waiting to play. A long run of a winning streak at a craps table almost never happened, but when it did, everyone wanted to be in on the action. His $100,000 became a quarter million, and then a half million. The craps tables were right by the open front doors in the middle of main street, downtown Las Vegas. The word started to spread and the crowd overflowed out into the street, attracted by all the yelling whenever someone made their point.
The $500,000 became $750,000 and then One Million Dollars, and he kept playing. A million one, a million two, a million three. And then a million two hundred thousand, and then a million one hundred thousand, then a million even, and then down to $900,000. By then he was sober and asked for management.
He was not ready to stop playing, he just thought that his luck had left him at this casino and wanted to go down the street to the Union Plaza casino to resume play. He was told no problem; they would write him out a check that they would accept for chips at the Union Plaza casino. He then asked if he could just take his lucky chips with him to go play with at the other casino. Management thought about it and called the Union Plaza to see if it was OK with them.
$900,000 in chips walking in the door to potentially lose in their casino, no problem.

Opps, Problem.

He had so many chips that they covered the rail and flowed into many stacks on the craps table felt in front of him. Mangement called over two casino guards with the glass boxes that the cage used to transfer chips around the casino from the cage to the tables and back. It took over three boxes to take all of his racks of chips and off he went with his two security guards. They walked down one block to the Union Plaza Casino where the casino manager was waiting for him. It was well past midnight and they opened up a new table just for him and the large crowd of players that had followed him. They unloaded all of his chips (by the way, in Vegas they are called checks, but I will keep calling them chips) and gave him the dice. His luck was still with him. $900,000 grew back to a million and kept rising. A million one, a million two and it kept rising. He was up to around a million seven when lady luck left him again. A million six, a million five, a million four. He got down to about a million two and some change when reality set in. He did not pick up the dice. He passed his turn off to the next player and though for a while and not betting. He finally turned to the pit boss and said that he would like to cash in and call it a night. Once again, no problem. They helped him take his chips to the cage and wrote him a check and he left.
I am told that he gave notice at his place of work and moved to Las Angeles where he was spotted over the years drinking and playing low limit poker at the Bicycle Poker Room in LA.

About two weeks after that night the two security guards who had helped him were told to report to the casino manager. he looked at them and said “Follow me”. Nothing else, just the follow me. Behind the casino was valet parking and center stage were two all-white Cadillac Eldorado Convertibles with great big red bows tied on to the front grill of each. The casino manager smiled to the two guards and the people of the press that had been called in to witness the event.
The manager told them that the cars were a “Thank You” present from the player who they had helped carry the chips two weeks before. I guess it had taken two weeks to find two identical pristine models that they had stopped making in 1976.

Well, that’s the story.
I know it was long, but I hope that you enjoyed it
I thought that you would enjoy a poker story with a happy ending for a change.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, David

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Hi, wildpokerdude,

Ok, you asked what was the craziest hand that I ever dealt.
Believe me there were many, mostly because of the players involved, but I have a favorite. This was back around 1977 in The Flamingo Poker Room.

I was dealing $2000 / $4000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Split no qualifier. This was not a normal game of the day. In fact, this was the only time that I ever dealt this game for this much money. I would often deal $5000 limit low ball draw, but this was a first for me. The no qualifier means whatever the low hand is, it wins. If it is a pair of fours, so be it. Now some of the best poker players in the world were at this table. Johnny Moss, Eric Drake, Chip Rease, Sarge (AKA Freddy Ferris) and three others whose names I do not remember. Doyle might have been there and Puggy also, sorry, it has been a while.

So as you all remember, seven card stud is two down cards to each player and one up card with a round of betting. Then there are three more rounds of up cards to each player with a round of betting with each round of cards. Finally, the seventh card to each player dealt face down with a final round of betting.
I am telling you all this because you must really search for any kind of seven card stud games in a casino these days. Tournaments have them, such as the World Series of Poker, but everyday casino poker rooms, not so much. Anyway, this game is Hi/Lo so the pot will be split at the finish with the high hand winning one half of the pot and the low hand winning one half of the pot.

So, after I bring in a $100 ante from each player, I deal out three cards to each player. Of the seven players, three players are showing face cards and the rest are all showing small cards. In this case because there was no qualifier, the low up card started the betting. A three was low and brought it in for $500. The queen on the board made it $2000 to call. Three people called and the Ace on the board raised it to $4000. Two people called and the Queen raised to make it $6000 with the ace capping it at $8000. Six people are now in the hand for $8000 each. Two players caught a face card on fourth street. The round of betting was capped again at $8,000 each, with two players dropping out. The queen was still in, and all the other players are showing low cards. We now have four active players.
Another round of cards was dealt, and it was capped again for $16,000. The raises are all coming from the queen and the ace. The sixth card was dealt and three of the players made a pair including the queen and the ace. The other two players received low cards. It is looking like the player with the queen is going high and the other players are all going for low. The betting was capped again for $16,000. The final down card is dealt and once again the betting is capped by the queen and the ace for another $16,000, two players called reluctantly, but the pot was just so darn big it was hard to fold, you know, pot odds and all that. The pot had well over a quarter of a million dollars in it.

The players started turning over their cards. No surprise, the queens were rolled up for a full house for high. The big surprise was that the ace was also rolled up for a high hand of aces full. That made two of the four hands. An even bigger surprise came when the other two players each showed three pair each.

I changed my mind. I am not going to tell you which player took the low half of the pot. You figure it out and let me know which player took low. The aces full and high hand was held by my boss and card room manger, Johnny Moss in the number one seat. A player with three pair was sitting in the number four seat. The queens full was sitting in the number six seat. The other three pair was sitting in the number seven seat.

Which of the seats took half of the pot for well over $125,000.
As soon as someone gives me the correct answer, I will post my ending to this poker story. Or next weekend if no one bothers to try a guess.

Card player magazine used to do this in each magazine they sent out. They would post a new poker question along with the answer to the last puzzler in each issue. I wish they would do that again. Every week it was a very popular discussion in the card room along with some friendly disagreements.

Good luck everyone and Happy Holidays, David


Ok, another happy Las Vegas casino story.

About 1985 the proverbial Little old lady from Pasadena was playing slots at the Stardust casino which was situated just about in the middle of the strip. This was also the casino that the Movie “Casino” was based upon. All 5 feet of her was playing at one of those circular banks of slot machines where the big prize was positioned up on blocks for all to see with about 16 slots surrounding it. This particular prize was a tricked-out van with all the bells and whistles, so if you wanted you could park it right on the beach or up in the mountains with all the comforts of home. The little old lady had been playing for about three hours when all the noise started. You guessed it, she had won the van. Management came over and explained all of the paperwork that had to be filled out for her to take possession of her prize. Part of the paperwork explained how she was responsible for paying the taxes to the IRS for her win. It told her how much the taxes were on winning a $50,000 prize. At this news she had explained that the only reason that she had been playing on these particular slot machines was that she wanted to win the van for her grandson who was a Junior at UCLA and had a birthday coming up soon. She then exclaimed that she was unaware of the tax responsibility when playing and that there was no way that she could pay the taxes on the van. Management was very sympatric and then told her that as an alternate she could take the cash equivalent and pay the taxes out of that. She looked sad and said, Ok, I guess that will have to be done. She looked very disappointed. Mangement said that had to go fix up a new set of paperwork for her new prize for her to sign and that they would return shortly. She was left sadly sitting by herself and got bored and started to play the same slots again. Against all odds, in a short time, she hit the Grand prize again and won another Van. Management rushed over, checked everything out and sure enough, another legitimate winner. She was told that she now had a van for her grandson, the cash from the first win to pay for the taxes on it and still have plenty of cash left over to take home for herself. This all eventually sank in and she starting crying, but it was a happy cry.
Vegas usually takes money from the players, but every now and then you have a happy winner. The casino wasted no time calling the local press to come out and take pictures. It was great PR for the casino in newspapers all over the world.

Every now and again dreams come true in Las Vegas

Thats all for now, hope you enjoyed the story.

Happy Holidays, David


what a great story with an even greater endign

Thank you Mrlucky7,

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I used to be a frequent 10/20 poker player at the stardust poker room when we all heard the bells started going off right outside the poker room. I was waiting for a seat at the poker table so with nothing else to do I wondered over and was standing right there when everything went down. I had still not been given my seat when the bells started going off again, so I was standing near to her before management even got back. It was fun to watch

Ok, another slot machine story.

Most of the casinos would put on carrousels like the one she hit on just to gain the attention of the daily revolving trade in tourists. Maybe a car, a van, a Harley Motorcycle, a dune buggy. The Union Plaza downtown tried a first. The brought in a Piper Cub Airplane to put in the center of a circle of slot machines. They could not even get it through the doors and had to take the wings off to make it fit and then reassemble it in the casino. Well, there it was, proudly on display. The slot machine odds said that it should be at least 6 months before it got hit. It got a lot of attention and a lot of play. Management was not very happy when it got hit in less than a week. Ok well, good publicity and all that. The new owner decided to take the cash equivalent, so the piper cub was left on display for some other fortunate player to win. What were the odds now of someone winning it anytime soon. Well, guess what, the odds were the same. It could be hit a year from now or it could be hit tomorrow. As a matter of fact, it took exactly three days before it got hit and once again the winner asked for the cash equivalent, leaving the plane on display.
Management had had enough. During the night the plane was once again dismantled and the spot turned into normal slot machine use. Management never wanted to hear the word “Airplane” ever spoken of again.
The whole town got a good laugh out of that one.

Happy Holidays, David

I live in Phoenix Az. They have a fairly decent casino dealer training school in town called the ABC School of Dealing. I know they are good because I often go over there and help out for free whenever I am in that part of town. I have always enjoyed teaching people who really want to learn. To me that is fun. Over the years I have worked in four different Native American casinos. Unfortunately, the tribe will pay for the training of tribal members who wish to earn a paycheck for showing up to work. Mind you, many tribal members are really good at their jobs, but many more just want the check for as little work as possible. When I worked at the Spotlight 29 Casino in palm springs, I was the Table games manager for a while, in charge of both Poker and Blackjack (before they gave my job to the Chiefs son). They gave me a good severance package, so I was Ok with it. You have to think of all Native American casinos as mom-and-pop stores. If they want to give a job to a relative, so be it, it is their business to do whatever they wish with. While at Spotlight 29, one day I went up to HR and explained to the head of HR that business was picking up and I needed two new chip runners. No problem, unfortunately what I got was two young Native American females just out of high school who never shoud have passed their classes in math. Not only that but they showed up when they wanted to, took breaks when they wanted to, and left when they wanted to. Not good. I finally went back up to the head of HR (who happened to be the chief’s wife) and explained that if she wanted to pad the table games payroll with useless employees, I was ok with that, but in the meantime, I needed two more chip runners that I could actually count on to do the job as required. Later that week I got two new nontribal chip runners that I could actually train and count on.

Ok, now a cute (to me) poker story.

About a year later I was driving through Palm springs and decided to stop in and take a look at my old place of employment and look around. As soon as I stepped in the poker room several poker players called my name and came over to say Hi and shake my hand. Then they had a story to tell me about the chief’s son who had been given my job. Now he was a nice enough guy and had learned Blackjack by working in a tribal casino up in Washington state in the blackjack pit. Unfortunately, any poker room knowledge he had acquired had come to him as a player in a poker room somewhere. These guys could not wait to tell me a story about the guy who had been given my job.
Soon after I left, several of the poker players had approached him and asked if he could think of a way to do a satellite in the poker room for the next World Series of Poker.
He thought about it, and thought about it, and soon started nodding his head in the affirmative. He said, “Yea, I think we can probably do that. I think that I saw one of those up on the roof.”
This is the guy they gave my job to, but like I said,
Mom and Pop business.

Happy Holidays everyone, David

Some time ago I was playing hold’em in a casino and the shuffle machine at my table wasn’t working. The dealer was performing hand shuffles while waiting for a technician to come over and repair it. Some time passed, at least an hour, before it was working again. When the machine was fixed and the deck placed in, it put up a red light and refused to shuffle saying the deck was incomplete. The floorman is always called over when a red light is displayed. He counted the cards and found there were only 48, if I remember correctly. Some cards had been removed, either by accident or intentionally. I assume a player might try to gain an advantage by removing select cards only they would know about. I found it a bit odd though, because the floorman didn’t seem to suspect anything unusual and to my knowledge didn’t even go to the cameras to see if someone had deliberately taken cards out. I asked the dealer if he would be able to tell from the feel of the deck alone that cards were missing and very bluntly said no.

My question to you is, if you were shuffling and dealing from a deck that was missing cards, would you be able to tell? Would you expect an experienced dealer to be able to?

Hi unskilld, thanks for an easy question.

A while back someone asked a question about how much should you tip a dealer. That is a snake pit and I have still not thought of how to reply to him as yet. I am going to get yelled at no matter what I say.

Your question, easy.
A professional dealer while shuffling can easily tell if 3 or more cards are missing. Every time.
It just feels wrong. Two cards missing is a hit or miss. It depends on how long the cards have been in use. A deck feels thicker when it has been used for a while. One card missing, almost impossible to tell. In all my years I never came across a deck with more than 52 cards in play except when dealing five card low ball draw in which it uses one wild card Joker in the deck to make a 53 card deck.
As you can tell from my writing, because of my years in the business, I consider myself a better than average dealer/ floor person. I mostly enjoyed the position of Tournament director which I was in most places that I worked. I think I was given this position because new dealers usually start dealing in tournaments before they are allowed to deal in live games which are harder to deal. New dealers usually come straight out of poker schools with minimal training, and it was my job to make them into experienced dealers. I enjoyed this. I am a teacher at heart, I enjoyed working with people who were eager to learn. It was hard on them but fun for me. I would often say, “Fantastic, one thousand things to learn, and only 978 more to go. Keep up the good work”. Even the new dealers would smile. Day by day, they were quickly learning.

Anyway, to answer your question. Yes.
A professional dealer can always tell if a deck is 3 or more cards short

So, here is a story pertaining to your question. There is a casino training school in Phoenix AZ on the other side of town from where I live called the ABC School of Dealing. Whenever I need to be in that part of town, I stop by to help train the new students for free. I am welcomed there to help teach because several of their teachers I helped first train to be dealers when they themselves first got out of dealers’ school. I was in the trade for 35 years, so I trained to a lot of dealers. Anyway, I sat down one day to show everyone the basics. I had not been there for over a month, and they had a whole new crop of students starting that I had not seen before. Nine seated at the table and there were more standing watching. I started my talk while shuffling the cards and after a few tries, I handed the deck to the student in the number 9 seat and asked him to count it, it felt light. I took the other deck out of the well and continued my instruction. After a bit, the student in the 9-seat said that it was one card short. These were fairly new decks, but I surprised even myself. I did not know that I could tell a one card difference. I got lucky. Believe me, this was unusual. Maybe I was just hyped up talking to an audience.

Anyway, I hope that I answered your question.

The dealer in question was either a new dealer, a liar, or a cheater. Let’s just hope he was an inexperienced dealer.

An experienced floor person would check the other deck, would check under the rail around the table and would check under the table. I have never seen an automatic shuffler taken apart and fixed at the table. The floor personnel do not have that capability. They have extra shufflers in a locked back room. They get a replacement and change it out at your table. The floor person would take the faulty shuffler into the back room and try to take a look inside to see if he could see the missing cards. A lot of shufflers are rented from a company who sends an expert by to replace faulty shufflers with ones in good condition.

Happy Holidays, David

Yes my question was answered. And thanks for the additional story. It was a 2/5 game, so the potential winnings from having knowledge of missing cards for a few hours couldn’t be enough to fund a multi person cheating operation. Everyone’s reaction just seemed off to me and it always stuck out in my head as suspicious. The floorman didn’t seem to care about what happened to the missing cards. The dealer was evasive to questions from players. Probably just incompetent or unmotivated staff.

A while back someone asked a question about how much should you tip a dealer. That is a snake pit and I have still not thought of how to reply to him as yet. I am going to get yelled at no matter what I say.

Maybe I’ll answer then. I tip 1bb usually for each significant pot I win, more if I like the dealer or get a good suckout. $1 for small/regular pots. This seems to be the norm. Though what “significant pot” means depends on my mood at the moment. In Ontario where I live and play most the tips are collected per regulation then divided equally among all dealers in the room, which makes me less incentivized to tip. When traveling to somewhere like Vegas or any region where the dealer gets to directly keep their tips, I usually tip a lot more. Sometimes I also make a standing offer to the table, anyone who wants to see my cards tip the dealer $25 and I’ll show after the hand. Don’t want to pay $25? Then you don’t really care about my hand. I usually don’t get many takers.

I have never seen an automatic shuffler taken apart and fixed at the table.

Yes this was also something unusual about this incident. There were empty tables in the room, so they could have just swapped with a machine from those tables. It was some years ago, but If I remember right the problem strictly speaking wasn’t with the shuffler itself but with the electrical connection in the table that made a simple switch of machines impossible.

The shuffler looked like this, and it could be pulled out from the table entirely.


God Bless, and thank you.

Ok, another Vegas story.

This was about 1990 and card shufflers were not invented yet.
Well, they were invented, but to be kind, they were having minor problems (read major problems). I was working on the floor at the Las Vegas Hilton in the Poker Room when a company brought in a prototype to try out in a real casino Blackjack pit.

There were about 30 people standing around in a simi circle waiting for the next expected problem to occur. The shuffler was open at the top so everyone could see the shuffle taking place. The machine cut the deck in half, side by side. Then a long metal rod would move upward in the middle making the cards intermingle one by one on each side. Perfectly done, except about every 8 or 9 shuffles, the machine would lose control of the tightly held cards and all unshuffled cards would fly straight up in the air about 15 feet. All the watchers would start clapping their hands and start yelling “RAINBOW”.

The tourists were enjoying the show, and some were dropping out and sitting in live Blackjack games so the casino was happy.
The technicians were recording and watching the machine, so they were getting the information they needed, so they were happy, although not pleased with the results of their new brainchild. All in all, a nice day for all. They kept it up until swing shift came in, but hell, we had fun watching. A change of pace.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Holidays, David

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The type of shuffler shown in this picture weighs about 30 lbs. (back a few years). To change one out you just have to ask the player in the number one seat or maybe just the dealer to get up for a minute (most units are placed to one side or the other of the center of the table so as to not to interfere with the dealer). The floor person then reaches under the table and unplugs the electrical line, stands up and then just lifts the whole unit up from the table. He then carefully slides a new unit in the hole to replace the non-functioning unit, reaches back under the table and plugs in the new shuffler. He usually has to actually crawl under the table to do this. Total time, less than two minutes. Most of the time lost is in going to the locked back room, finding a shuffler that still has a tag on it meaning that it is ok, and filling out the paperwork involved, most of which can be done when he brings back the non-functioning unit.
For a 30-table card room, if each table is using a shuffle machine, there is usually about eight to ten extra machines sitting in the back room for replacements. If the expert comes by every two weeks to pick up and replace broken shufflers there are usually about at least one half of the machines that need to be switched out.
Just some trivial information for those who might be interested in reading about this sort of thing

Happy Holidays, David

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Thank you Ace to 5 enjoyed the readings please keep them up! :heart:

And thank you Dee.

Any particular topic you would like to hear about?

And for everyone.

My pen name is aceto5 because that is one on my favorite games to play.

It is really called “Ace to Five” Low Ball Draw as opposed to “deuce to seven” which is a seven-card low only game where Ace is high only and straights and flushes count against you.

That makes the lowest hand possible 7,5,4,3,2.

Off hand, I can only think of three popular low only poker games

  1. Ace to five low ball draw.
  2. Deuce to seven, seven card stud, low only.
  3. And Raze, which is seven card stud low only with the lowest best hand 5,4,3,2,A, ace being the lowest card and straights and flushes do not count.

Just more trivia.

Happy Holidays, David.