Sunday, March 12, 2017

I Thought it Was "English Only" at the Poker Table

Christmas Eve, I ended up at the Mirage.  When I got to my 1/2 game, I couldn’t help noticing a rather odd looking fellow at the table.  He had a big cowboy hat, the brim of which was rolled up on one side, and a leather jacket with fringes.  It was like he couldn’t decide whether he was a cowboy or an Indian.

He was a pretty colorful character to say the least.  In front of him was this pair of rubber, oversized dice. They weren’t just card protectors. Whenever it was his turn to act, he’d roll the dice, saying that the result of the dice roll would determine his action.  So one time he’d roll a 7 and say he had to raise.  Another time he’d roll a 9 and say he had to call.  But really, as far as I could tell, the actual number he rolled didn’t mean a damn thing.  One time he’d roll an 11 and decide to just call, another time it might have meant a raise—or a fold.  It was just part of his eccentricity.

At first he was pretty aggro, then he calmed down a bit.  Then he got aggressive again and moved to another table that he heard offered more action.

Since my last post (here) mentioned some horrible cocktail service, I guess I should discuss the service on this night.  I’ve always considered the Mirage to have especially bad cocktail service, but this night it wasn’t bad at all—just weird. 

Early on in my session, a waitress came by and took our orders, mine included.  Less than 10 minutes later a totally different waitress came over and asked us if we wanted anything.  At first I said no, then I thought I better play it safe.  This was the night after I’d had to get my own drink at Caesars, so you can’t be too careful.  I told her that another waitress had just been by and she had taken my order.  This new waitress said, “Oh, she’s taking a break for an hour, what do you want?”  So I ordered again.

A few minute after waitress #2 left the room, waitress #1 returned with my diet Coke (and everyone else’s drinks).  So when she handed me my drink, I said to her, “We were told you were on an hour break.”  She said, “Who told you that?”  I told her it was the other waitress, who I noticed had come back in the room just then with a tray full of drinks.  So waitress #1 went over to waitress #2 and they chatted.  I don’t know what they figured out, but waitress #2 eventually dropped off all her drinks, including my diet Coke.  So now I had two drinks in front of me.  I tell you, it’s either feast or famine. 

But it’s a good thing I had the two drinks, because I didn’t see either waitress again for a good hour.

There were only two notable hands during the night.  The first one was when I had pocket Aces. I guess my stack was down to around $150 (from $200).  The player two to my right opened to $10.  He had only recently come to the table so I didn’t know much about him. He had me covered.  I made it $30 and it folded back to him and he called.

The flop was King-5-4, rainbow.  He checked and I bet $45.  And then he announced “all-in.”  Well I had already put close to half my stack in the pot and I didn’t see how I could fold.  Maybe he was being aggressive with Ace-King?  I called.  We didn’t show.  The turn was a blank and the river was a 10, which looked like a blank to me.

But then he announced, “I have a three-of-a-kind” and flipped over pocket 10’s.  What the hell?  He checked-shoved with pocket 10’s on a King-high board?  And then totally sucked out on me by hitting his two outer?  Damn.

I whispered a totally insincere “nice hand” as I reached for my wallet to re-buy.  I later heard him tell the person next to him that he was just trying to get me off the hand.

Something happened after I rebought that really annoyed me.  A female dealer pushed in.  I recognized her from previously playing in the room. She mentioned that she was “dual-rate”, which means that sometimes she deals and sometimes she’s a floor person.  During her down, the player on my immediate right got a phone call.  He answered it and began speaking in a foreign language—some type of middle Eastern language, I believe.  He was talking loudly in this language and didn’t step away from the table.  In fact, he kept playing, getting involved in hands all the time talking on the phone in a foreign language.

The issue wasn’t that he was talking while playing.  That’s generally allowed these days in cash games (but almost never in tournaments).  The issue is that one of the basic rules of virtually any poker room I’ve ever been in is, “English only at the table.”  Some rooms insist that English be spoken at all times, others are more lenient and allow foreign languages to be spoken between hands.  But for sure, when cards are in play, you’re not allowed to speak anything but English, even a player not in the hand.

This guy played like four or five hands all the while talking on the phone in his native language. And I kept waiting for the dealer to say something to him, to tell him the rule and give him the option of stepping away or hanging up.  But she completely ignored it.  The guy was pretty much sitting directly across from her so there is no way she didn’t hear him.  He wasn’t exactly whispering.  I kept looking at her and she totally ignored it.

I know I should have said something but I am always reluctant to do so in that situation.  I feel that the dealer should do her job, and I don’t want to piss someone off for a non-poker reason (as opposed to taking all his chips in a hand—I don’t mind pissing someone off that way).  So I just seethed in silence. It was especially annoying since the dealer claimed to be a sometime floor person.  Certainly she should know the rules and know that they should be enforced.

So, I vowed (to myself) not to tip her if I won any hands while she was dealing.  And in fact, after the guy finally ended his call, I did win a very small pot.  I think I raised preflop after a few limpers and didn’t get a call.  And yes, I did not tip this dealer.  Now, it was such a small pot she may well have thought I didn’t tip her because the pot was so small.  But actually, even though there wasn’t much in there, I would have normally tipped her a buck for that pot.  But not this time.

Of course, she may have noticed the looks I was giving her while the guy was talking on the phone.  If that’s the case, she probably knows why I didn’t tip her and why I wouldn’t have tipped her if it had been a $400 pot.  By the way, I did confirm after the session was over that Mirage does indeed have an “English-only at  the table” rule.

My pal Kristi deals at the Mirage.  I had seen her before I got into a game and she asked me how my heart was.  I told her it was holding up well—and then I added a qualifier.  I told her that in a week in Vegas, I hadn’t really taken any bad beats, and that would be the true test.  And that was basically true. Although I had taken my share of loses, I hadn’t been handed any particularly bad beats during that first week.  I also hadn’t won any monster pots, either.

Well that hand I mentioned above where I was felted with pocket Aces by a rivered set was a bad beat and a pretty good test for my ticker.  And apparently it held up quite well. 

Speaking of Kristi, she was the dealer for the other notable hand of the night.  I had pocket 4’s and I called $15 in a four-way pot.  Kristi put out a pretty decent flop for me—4-2-2.  But the preflop raiser checked, so did the next guy.  There was one guy behind, the person sitting directly on my left.  He reminded of the guy who plays “Raj” on Big Bang Theory (he was not the guy talking on his phone earlier).  He was a pretty aggressive player and I thought if I checked, he would likely bet to try to steal the pot (or maybe he had something).  So I checked. 

Raj didn’t disappoint me.  He bet $15.  That was a pretty small bet into $60 pot.  The preflop raiser tanked for a good while but folded.  The other guy folded quickly.  I reluctantly just called figuring that Raj was unlikely to call a check-raise.  The turn was a blank.  I checked again and Raj bet—but only another $15.  I just called.  I wondered if it was time to check-raise, but I suspected he was barreling with nothing and wouldn’t call.

The river was another blank and this time I felt I couldn’t risk him checking behind.  It was a tough call.  He might have fired another barrel, but I didn’t want to risk it.  I figured I’d bet something small enough so if he had anything at all he might call.  I bet $35.  He tanked for a long time.  I was waiting for him to just fold but instead he finally started grabbing some chips and before he put them out he said, “$80.”

Oh boy.  The problem was I didn’t have much more than a min-raise left (he had me covered).  There was nothing I could do but announce “all-in.”  And he wasted no time in mucking his cards, saying to me, “Nice hand.” Then he picked up the rest of his chips and left the game.

Well that was a nice recovery.  I won another couple of small pots before leaving.  I recovered all but about $50 of my $400 buy-in.


  1. According to a thread on 2+2, the guy you referenced at the beginning is named Dane, and he's a local. A lot of people recall playing with him at Mirage.

    Quote from wheydacheese: "theres this guy, i mostly see him around the 1-2/1-3 in the summer. hes kinda grizzly/ratty with a big beard and wears the leather western hats and jackets with tassels all over and has like 5000 various charms and keychains and whatnot hanging off him and his things. he also carries a pair of dice around and rolls them when deciding what to bet (he bets some extrapolation of the roll like rolling a 6 he bets 16 ect) so yeah obvs interesting."

    1. Thanks, Nick, that's a great find. Of course, I almost didn't approve your comment since you named him and I always give real people fake names on the blog! :) But I guess it's ok, didn't really say anything that wasn't the truth and what he'd gladly admit himself.

      But yeah, that was definitely the guy I saw at the Mirage that nite.