It’s time for me to play in the WSOP!


I am extraordinary blessed because I live in Las Vegas! One of the top four poker meccas in the United States.

There are 28 rooms within 15 miles from where I live and they all have either cash games or tournaments or both.  (See BravePokerLive for details)

Laughlin, Nevada has a half dozen poker rooms and is only 72 miles away. Add to that the dozens of poker rooms within 300 miles.

Did I mention that Las Vegas also has Bar Poker as well?

Perhaps the best thing about being in Nevada is that I can play legal, regulated on-line poker on the site. They have sites in two states: New Jersey and Nevada. While the numbers are small during the off season (when the WSOP events are not playing at the Rio Hotel and Casino), there are enough players to try improving my skills at cash games, Sit and Go’s (SnG’s), and Multi-Table Tournaments (MTT’s).

Satellites to the WSOP events usually start a few months prior to the WSOP events at the Rio and run right up to the World Series of Poker Main Event.

I have always wanted to play in the World Series of Poker but felt that the buy-ins were beyond my bankroll. Until now! The WSOP 2015 has added a new game to the 2015 series – “The “Colossus”!

According to the WSOP: “This two starting day event on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30 will feature a $5,000,000 prize pool guarantee and the lowest buy-in for any WSOP open event in 35 years – just $565! There will be two starting flights each day – at 10:00am and 4:00pm – with a re-entry format (limited to flights they have not previously entered). Players will love the robust 5,000 in starting chips with the tournament beginning without an ante and blinds at 25/50.”

I can fire one bullet without bankrupting my bankroll. There is even the possibility of satelliting into the event at an even lower price.

I can describe my poker abilities as being a recreational player, which means that I am not a winning player and that I have to add to my bankroll from my personal finances from time to time.

Be assured that that my poker money comes from my personal funds that I earn for that purpose and that I do not use household funds to support my poker playing. This is very important and something that I am serious about.

I have been in Vegas for over two years now and the closest I have gotten to the WSOP events was being at the rail, watching others try their skills and luck (some luck is required no matter how much skill you have).


But, now, I am almost ready to play a WSOP event at the Rio this summer. The Colossus.

In order to prepare for the event, I have started walking daily, starting at an hour a day or two miles and will build up to three hours a day or six miles a day by the end of February. I also am playing on-line: at least six Sit and Go’s to build up my playing skills. Starting in February, I will be playing at least two live SnG’s at our local casinos and a weekly MTT event. I also will reach out to friends and acquaintances that I have made as a member of for advice.

I have over five months to get ready for an event that may run for over 12 hours a day or more and could take at least three to five days to complete.

WSOP players

How do you get ready for events that you play in?

Upgrade from Bad Santa

As a newbie poker dealer at The Poker Room NH, I am working hard to include conversation in my repertoire of dealing tools. As a rule,  dealers should just make sure that the action at the table is brisk without rushing anyone.

Comments made by the dealer should be non-biased and certainly not unkind. There is a fine line between friendly conversation and annoying banter.

To that end, I sometimes  tell the “Bad Santa”

Bad Santa

Bad Santa (Photo credit: BRED(

story whenever a player complains about the bad hands they are dealt by me.

During one session a female player raised the opening amount to 4,000 chips. The table’s chip leader re-raised her to 8,000. The lady player thought about it for a couple of minutes and re-raised All-in and was called by the chip leader.

The female player tabled QQ and the chip leader tabled AK off suit.

The flop was 5 9 J, rainbow (meaning no matching suited cards).

The turn card was a 2.

The river card was an ace crushing the female player’s pocket queens by giving the chip leader a pair of aces.

She looked at me and said “you are not Bad Santa, you are the Grim Reaper!”.

Grim Reaper (advertisement)

Grim Reaper (advertisement) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I am right there – sitting right near you.

Sitting in a chair that both his mom and grand...

Sitting in a chair that both his mom and grandma sat in (Photo credit: rustytanton)

In my previous discussions about my adventures as a poker room dealer for The Poker Room NH in Hampton Falls, NH I mentioned that I am a “work in progress”. I need to deal more and to practice more in order to become the best that I can become.

There are at least 42 steps that must be followed out for every hand of poker that is played. This includes shuffling the deck, cutting the deck, making sure that blinds and antes, if any, are collected prior to dealing out the cards. Then each player is dealt one card at a time, starting with the small blind (the small bet) and ending back at the dealer button, until they each have two cards.

In the early stages of a tournment, there might be as many as three actual players and seven “dead stacks” to deal to at my table. Once every player or dead stack receives their two cards, I must collect back those cards that do not have a live player sitting in front of them and place these cards into the “muck” or stack of non-playable cards face down, beside me. While I’m doing this, I must call the action as it progresses around the table, indicating who is calling, who is raising, who is folding, etc.

I must make sure that the correct total of chips are in the pot and that each player that has change coming back if they did not have the exact amount available when they either called, bet, or raised and were called.

Every step is an opportunity for a mistake to occur and when I first started out, I easily made a mistake in almost every round of play or so it seemed to me. My worst mistake to make was to sweep away players cards that were active but too close to my reach when I was folding the other cards belonging to the dead stacks (chips with no players sitting at the table).

Now when I have a fairly empty table with less than 5 players, I warn them ahead of time to protect their cards or I  might toss them into the muck.

My supervisor recently said to me “you’re improving, Brogan … I am getting less complaints about you”.  I actually took that as a compliment as it is true that our poker players are very vocal in their opinions.

At a recent tournament, I had one player lean over towards a younger female player and tell her to be careful, that the dealer (me)  is  not very good.  I am not sure if  he thought I had ears but I smiled towards him and told the young lady that indeed I am not perfect but we have a whole table of players that will help to ensure that I do everything correctly.

The complaining player busted out of the tournament within 15 minutes of play but I did not warn the young lady that he was a bad player.

Etiquette you know.

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When a player rolls their eyes …

Rolling eyes

Rolling eyes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I started dealing poker at The Poker Room NH in Hampton Falls I have met hundreds of poker players. Some of them I have met on my days off when I play poker, and others when I am dealing poker.

Like all people, some days I am better at what I do than others. I think it is not a matter of trying harder but a matter of focus. I can get easily distracted so focus and paying attention to detail helps keep me on track. I regularly deal two days a week, Friday and Saturday, two of the three busiest days at the poker room.

I have yet to develop a style or personality at the tables that would be my signature except for the fact I have a “santa like” beard. Some people call me “Santa” or “Methuselah”. I get comments like “give me a santa flop”, whatever that is.

Now the thing is, as a poker dealer, I do well to make sure that each player gets two cards, at least in Hold’Em. I do not determine what they get. I have heard players at the table say that I continually give them bad cards, hand after hand. After a while, these players become superstitious and when they see me coming, they cringe or roll their eyes.

Even though I am right there in front of them, they talk about me out loud to their fellow players, saying that I am the worst dealer ever, that they never get any good cards when I am dealing. I usually just ignore these comments and go about my business. About the only response I might give is that I can only try to give them two cards. It is best not to say anything because nothing you can say will help or make a difference.

This last Friday I think I finally have tipped one player over the edge. I have seen this individual at both the tournament tables and the Hold’Em cash games tables. Now I don’t remember how he did nor did I know or remember what I dealt him for cards. But at this point in the day, he was steaming a bit. His losses from both the tournament buy-in and the cash game, he said had cost him over $80 dollars so far and if he lost more at the table I was dealing at, he was leaving.

Needless to say, he did not do well at the table I was dealing at and when another seat opened up at another Hold’Em table he elected to move. Just as soon as he sat down at the other table, I was tapped out (another poker dealer was coming in to my table to replace me), and I was being moved to the next table, the same one that the aggravated player had just moved to. He must have heard that I was coming, because by the time I got there, he was gone. He moved to the blackjack tables, which I have not yet learned to deal.

Yes, dealing poker is defintely interesting and challenging. And you have the opportunity to create new friends and non-friends.

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Controlling the action – a poker dealer duty

Stop Signs A well signposted junction near Mou...

Stop Signs A well signposted junction near Mountmellick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Disputedsign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most important tasks that a poker dealer has is to do, is to control the action at the table.

Right before everyone is dealt cards, I, the dealer, might have to ask for the small and big blinds to be posted as well as for the antes.

After the cards are dealt, I, the dealer, must indicate which poker player has a decision to make and keep the other players from acting out of turn. This is a lot like herding cats, by the way. Once a player folds out of turn, it sometimes creates a cascade of folding players (this is because the wonderful cards I dealt to them are sometimes not playable).

The same is true of betting. I must announce each bet or raise as they occur and hope that the players are also paying attention (it is the player’s responsibility to pay attention but guess who they yell at if they make a mistake and call a raise that they did not hear).

All verbal bets and calls are binding which can lead to some interesting problems created by players who did not pay attention to what was being said. The worst case would be when someone says “all in” and an inattentive player says “call”. Even those that say call to small raises are sometimes surprised that they are calling a raise and not just the big blind they thought they were calling.

My voice is a bit soft and low but the players do need to pay attention to what is going on. It does not help that we have TV’s all along our walls with sports games playing, sometimes distracting the players as well (we should tune “Sponge Bob Square Pants”, but some would watch that as well, I guess).

Controlling the pot is another duty of the poker dealer. I have to make sure that I have collected all of the blinds, bets and antes and that the pot is correct. Some players will call using a larger denomination chip and I need to make sure that they get back change. This is done after all of the players have acted. By the time the action gets to the last player, I must remember that player one needs change. Most of the time I have nine or ten auditors at my table, so I am never allowed to make a mistake on change or the pot.

Side pots are something else. Whenever we have three or more players involved in a hand and two or more players are all in, there is a proper way to account for the pots and there is the player’s way. The dealer must take care to use the proper way, which is slightly more time consuming but creates less problems when the hand is finished.

As an easy example, we have four players, one with 4,000 chips, one with 3,000 in chips, one with 2,000 in chips and one with 1,000 in chips. The big blind is 100 chips. Both the 1,000 chip and the 2,000 chip players go all in and the other two players call.

I first take the 100 chips from each player and move that to the main pot. I then take the smallest chip stack, the 900 chips and take 900 chips from the remaining three players and move that to the main pot.  The main pot is all that the 1,000 chip player can win, for a total pot of 4,000. Next I take the remaining amount of 1,000 chips from the 3,000 and 4,000 chip player, creating a side pot of 3,000 chips that the remaining three players can win. That would leave the 4,000 and 3,000 players with 2,000 and 1,000 respectively that they could bet against each other, creating yet a second side pot.

If I were to wait until after the hand is completed to create main pot and the two side pots or use the quick math that the players might suggest that I use, I might end up with more time being taken after the hand is completed. By creating these pots before the hand is completed,  it makes it easier and more accurate to know which pots might be going to whom.

Who knew that practices and procedures and math would be so highly needed in the game of poker, not to mention diplomacy.

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Bad Santa

Bad Santa?

Dealing poker at our local poker room, The Poker Room NH, can become very interesting at times.

I work two days a week, Friday and Saturday, and I get to see many people coming to play at our tables.

I deal at the tournament tables and also at the cash Limit Hold’Em tables.
The cost to play at the $2/4 limit table is a buy-in of $20 minimum.

Some of the players that I see are regulars and most of them know how to play. Occasionally we do get new players that have never played a limit hold’em cash game.

There is a certain basic strategy that good players follow. Good players do not play in every single hand unless they have very good cards.

New players however may not understand or know that concept and think that every hand that they see is an opportunity to win a pot.

Recently three young ladies have been becoming regulars at the cash tables and I have dealt to them when I have been assigned to their tables.

English is not their native language, but they speak it rather well. I don’t know if these three ladies are related or not but the younger one smiles when she sees me coming to the table and says “Welcome Santa”, I know you will be kind to me.

Now my basic task is to try and make their experience enjoyable, but I am only able to guarantee that everyone at the table gets two cards each. Beyond that, it is the players responsibility to do what they can with these cards to win the pots.

The problem that I see with the young lady who calls me “Santa” is that she plays every single hand that she is dealt regardless of what they are.  To her sorrow and dismay, she usually finds that she has lost all of her chips within an hours time. And she usually buys a hundred dollars of poker chips at a time.

I am not always at the same table for long periods of time because we are moved from table to table every 30 minutes or so, and I do not see when she ends up re-buying more chips so I do not know how she is doing.

One evening however, I did end up dealing to these ladies twice in the same evening, although at a different table.

The story was the same. Big smile and a “Welcome Santa”, but at the end of the session, with her chips all gone, she looked at me sadly and said “Bad Santa”.

You know how it goes … you cannot please everyone …

(This post will appear on

Being consistent … not

Collect and Connect

Collect and Connect (Photo credit: fengschwing)

One of the things that makes for being a great dealer is consistency.

There are at least 42 steps to each hand that a poker dealer deals.

There is the shuffle, shuffle, riffle, shuffle. Making sure the blinds are posted. Dealing out the first hand. Collecting the bets. Burning a card. Dealing the flop. Collecting the bets. Burning a card. Dealing the turn. Collecting the bets. Dealing the River. Collecting the bets. Awarding the pot. Moving  the button. (in cash games, dropping the rake (the poker room’s profit), and dropping the toke (the dealer tips). And this is just in  one hand. (Note: I did not list all of the 42 steps).

In addition to the above tasks, there are also the collecting of antes, the counting of chips when a player is all in and the other player(s) need a count. There is also the creation of side pots in the events that someone is all in and two or more players are still in the pot. There could be up to seven side pots, heaven forbid.

At any given time, I do make mistakes,

I may miss a player altogether dealing at a tournament. (you must deal a card to each chip stack regardless of if the player is there physically or not). In cash games, you must deal to the actual people and not the chips stack. Some players walk away from the table for various reasons. Some are gone to play in a sit n go tourney and leave their chips behind. If a player is not at their seat for a cash game, they are still responsible to put up the big blind or small blind, I must take care to leave a token that says they owe for the big blind and/or the small blind and must settle before they can resume play if they choose to return and play.

So I must take care to not deal to someone that is not there in a cash game, but deal to the stacks in a tournament even when someone is not there.

Other ways I can err is to flip over a card when dealing it to a player. I can miscount chip stacks when awarding a player chips from another player.

Oh the things I could do wrong are numerous.

This brings me to the point of this blog. Too many errors at one time and some players get very upset. Some even get vocal. Some are downright mean in their comments. But they are the customer and the custumer is right.

So I always apologize for my error(s) and try to keep on going. Now the problem is that after it happens I am now trying too hard to not make an error. Oh well.

The good news is that all dealers are rotated from table to table every 20 or 30 minutes, for the most part. This gives us the opportunity to walk away from our mistakes and start fresh at a new table. As a dealer, I need to get over the bad expierences quickly and move on. After all, as they say, it is nothing personal.

In spite of the downsides of having to deal with upset players, the upside is the satisfaction when things run well. When the players get excited to finally be getting good cards. Yes I am that dealer that gives out the dreaded 7-2 or 2-8 or 3-9 or other garbage hands to players, sometimes two or three times in a row. At least that is what they tell me.

On the plus side, I now have players that greet me warmly when I approach their table. I now know many players by name and the banter is friendly or at least cordial. After all, they are here to play and/or have a good time while they are doing it.

My favorite table to deal at are are the ones where most of the players are smiling or laughing and having a great time.

Now if it could aways be that way …

Next post:  Bad Santa ….

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