Saturday, July 6, 2013

As Serious as a Heart Attack

This post is being done by special request.  Ordinarily, I don’t do posts on requests, but I’m making an exception here.  The dealer in this story is the requester.  Although I have alluded to him before here on the blog, I never mentioned him prominently enough to have given him his very own blog pseudonym, surprisingly.  Actually, it’s only because I’m so behind in my blog posts that this is so.  There were a couple of poker sessions from a few trips ago that he will figure into, if I ever get a chance to write that up.

So, I need to give this dealer a pseudonym, and thus I will call him “Troy.” Troy has been dealing poker to me at BSC for many, many years.  He is one of my dealer pals, but I have to say, he is not actually a fan of my blog, even though he knows about it.  He told me once that my posts are too long for him to get through.
My posts too long?  Seriously?  Never heard that one before.  Strange.

(As you might have noticed from the counter on the right side of the page, as I post this, this silly little blog has just passed 200,000 pageviews, so apparently there are some people out there who are capable of reading a post that is longer than a tweet.  And to those of you who do, a big, big, thank you!)
I guess Troy has too short of an attention span, like the students at a certain University in Southern California that I won’t name, but it’s a school that is famous for its professional football team.  And he is a fan of that school’s football team, even though its most famous all-time player is currently serving time in a Las Vegas prison.
But this post has nothing to do with any of that.  It has to do with a poker player who was suddenly in extreme distress at the poker table the other night, leading us to believe he was having a heart attack.  And it happened in between hands, otherwise I might have just assumed he was reacting to having been dealt the dreaded pocket kings.
This took place the same night as this story, and I mentioned this incident at the end of that post.  It was late in the session and Troy had just come to the table to deal.  I was in seat 2 and to my immediate right was a relatively new player to the table, a short, somewhat overweight guy—maybe a little more than “somewhat”.  He wasn’t old, mid-thirties, maybe older (I can never tell) and was a pretty friendly guy, quite chatty but not nearly as overbearingly talkative as the non-stop chatterbox in seat 7 who was driving me crazy because he wouldn’t shut the f*** up.
Seat 1 was interested in “running it twice”, something they won’t do at BSC (or most Vegas poker rooms).  He also was really fussy with his drink order—his soft drink order.  He asked the waitress if they had Coke or Pepsi and was disappointed to learn it was Coke.  Apparently, he is a Pepsi guy.  So he ordered a Dr. Pepper.  But of course, they don’t serve that either.  He had to settle for a Sprite.
Now the service wasn’t particularly good that night. One of the regular waitresses during the swing shift recently left the room to work elsewhere in the casino.  In fact, it was the waitress who was stiffed by Doogie Howser, as mentioned in this post here.  I have no reason to believe that she left poker because of Doogie, especially since he was playing blackjack, not poker, when he stiffed her.
Anyway, I had never seen this waitress before and she was having trouble keeping up with the orders, the room being quite busy that night.  I know she missed our table once or twice.  Seat 1 had run out of Sprite and was asking for another drink, this time water.
But I had just gotten another drink myself and so he must have somehow missed her when she had come by to take orders.  The guy actually saw a floor person and asked about getting some water.  The floor person went over to the waitress, who was a few tables away, and he probably asked her to make sure she brought him back some water when she returned from the bar.
But the waitress was gone for a long time.  I should mention that during this time, there was record-breaking heat in Vegas, which is really saying something.  It was upwards of 115 degrees in the heat of the day.  Of course, inside the poker room and casino, it was quite cool, if not actually cold.  And the guy had been sitting there for at least a hour or so when this happened.
Suddenly, I looked over to the guy and he had pushed back his chair a little bit from the table.  And he had his hands on his knees and was breathing really heavily.  I mean really hard. He seemed to be gasping for air. I did a double take and asked him if he was ok.  He nodded yes.  I think at this point he folded a hand he was dealt without looking at it.
Troy looked over to me and then looked at the guy.  He too asked the guy if he was ok, and again he nodded yes.  I turned my attention to the game for a second and then looked back at him and he seemed to be struggling more and more by the second.
I looked at Troy again and we kind of communicated silently that the guy needed help.  I bolted out of my sit and went to find someone.  Fortunately the floor person who had told the waitress about his drink was nearby, and I pointed the guy out to him.  “I think this guy’s in trouble, look at him,” I don’t recall if he went over to the guy first or just bolted to the front, but he was gone in an instant and even though we were far from the front, I could hear that they were calling for help.
Meanwhile, the guy had reached up to grab the back of my chair, and then, fell to his knees, and fell flat on his back.  It was really scary.  In short order, two or three security people from the casino ran up to him started talking to him.
I believe they told him they were going to call someone and he said no.  He managed to get out the words, “No EMS!” several times.  They didn’t call.  They asked him if he had asthma.  He nodded no, that wasn’t the problem.  He did ask for water, the water he hadn’t gotten earlier.
The floor person came up with some bottled water and he started drinking that while he was lying flat on his back.  Someone asked him if he hyperventilates, and he said yes.  At one point he managed to say he’s been getting these attacks for 20 years.
In a surprising little amount of time, all things considered, he started breathing more normally, and seemed to be getting better.  The security people finally pulled him up off the floor and sat him back down in his chair. 

To my untrained eyes, it sure looked like that guy might indeed be having a heart attack right there in the poker room.

I should point out here that I found it quite ironic that Troy was dealing at this time.  I knew that Troy had recently had some heart issues of his own, despite the fact that he is a young guy and not even the slightest bit overweight.  I know that he is now on an extreme workout regimen to see that his problems don’t return.  

During this, the game had come to a stop.  I think by coincidence a few people had gotten up to go to the restroom at the same time, and there weren’t really enough people left to deal to anyway.  And none of those who remained really were thinking about poker right then anyway.
The security people made sure he was ok and stayed for awhile, and suddenly the guy seemed fine, as if nothing had happened.  He now had two bottles of water in front of him pulled his chair up to the table and enough players had returned to continue playing. The players all asked him how he was doing and he said he was fine, and he even apologized to all of us for holding up the game.  He repeated that these attacks have been occurring for 20 years.
And so we were back to playing poker as if nothing had happened.
I know the guy was ok, because he didn’t have another attack after the hand I’m about to describe. The pot was raised preflop, I’m not sure by whom.  On a flop of Ace-King-5, he made a big bet, a bet that was actually more than the size of the pot.  I folded my pocket 9’s, but one guy called him.  He was the guy in the previous post about this night that I described as a really loose player, the guy who shoved with the baby flush draw on the big hand I won. 
On the turn, they both got it all in.  I was a bit pissed since the turn was a 9.  But there was no way I could call on the flop with two overcards out there and a guy making an over pot sized bet in front of me.  The hyperventilating guy had not previously exhibited any wild tendencies (at poker, anyway) up to that point and I had to figure he had my hand beat.  The loose guy had called Seat 1’s shove.
The river was a 7.  The loose guy flipped over pocket 7’s for a rivered set of 7’s.  The heart attack guy showed his pocket 5’s for a flopped set of 5’s.  He was incredulous and quite upset, to say the least.  I was worried that he was going to start having trouble breathing again.  But no, he seemed fine, just the normal upset any poker player might have at losing in a set-over-set situation when a guy hits their two-outer on you in a situation where he never should have called.
He left the table, breathing fine but muttering under his breath.  I was relieved.  If that hand didn’t give him a heart attack, I had to believe he really was ok.  And I didn’t get a chance to tell him that if I had played as badly as the guy who had the pocket 7’s, I would have won the pot, not him.
Haven’t seen the guy since, but I’m assuming he’s ok.  I hope he always keeps plenty of water nearby.


  1. Posts are too long? Why, that's a viscous rumor!

    1. Rumor? It's a vile slander, that's what it is.

  2. Viscous rumor? That's a pretty sticky subject...

    1. Yeah, that one actually sticks in my craw.

  3. Just 'cause people come to this blog does not mean that they read the lengthy posts ...

    Congrats on 200,000. You must click on it a lot. : o P

    I was playing a deep stack at Caesars and the guy next to me had a seizure. Fortunately, the guy on the other side of him was a physician.

    1. Very funny...I actual have it set so it doesn't count my own pageviews.

      What happened at Caesars? Was the guy carried out in a gurney? Did the tournament come to a halt. Scary.

  4. You should tell Troy that's a lame excuse for not liking your blog. Especially since he use to be a teacher before being a dealer...

    1. I really didn't know that Troy used to be a teacher. That's new and surprising information, Anony. And yes, it is a lame excuse for not liking my blog. But it's his loss, right?

      Hmm....I have a theory about who "Anonymous" is I'm not sure. I'll have to investigate further.

  5. I was playing in an HPT qualifier at my home casino when a massively overweight guy in a mobility scooter started having some kind of medical distress...he was coughing and having problems breathing. They paused the tournament to make room for him to go down in the freight elevator to meet the ambulance. (He was the overwhelming chip leader at the time and easily qualified for the HPT main event even though they were blinding him off after he left.)

    Sadly I heard through the grapevine a month or two later that he died at the hospital the day after this story took place.