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Table Talk - Part II

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

Here are a few more tales from the felt that I hope you enjoy. The "action" this time occurs in Las Vegas and Ireland.

Several years ago when the World Series of Poker was played in Downtown Las Vegas at Binion's Horseshoe, the pot-limit Omaha games were usually sited beside the rail. This meant that members of the public could, and frequently did, sweat the games. One day, a very beautiful young lady with a generous bosom stopped by to follow the action. Needless to say, it did not take long for the players to notice her. Two players, Freddie Deeb and Lee Wask, then had a long discussion as to whether her bosom was natural or had been surgically enhanced. They started talking money, and a $500 bet was struck. The only way to determine the winner was to ask her, so they agreed to take $100 off the top, which she would receive for an honest answer (I know what you're thinking, so don't ask). Freddie was for natural and Lee insisted on the scalpel. I'll tell you later who won.

Staying in Binion's, one night I witnessed a fabulous demonstration of poker professionalism at its best. It was about 2 a.m. and the usual four or five one-table satellites were in progress. I heard a commotion at the table next door and saw the dealer with a chair raised above his head, aiming to seriously reduce one of the player's life expectancy. Just then, two burly security men intervened to prevent the assault, and by this time, the dealer was well away from the table. Needless to say, this took some time to sort out, but then I saw Paul "Eskimo" Clark, sitting in seat No. 5, reach over to the dealer's tray and stop the clock! Time is very precious when playing a fast tournament. We then learned the story behind this fracas: The previous day, the player involved had received a 20-minute penalty for dealer abuse, and fate decreed that the two of them would meet again in this satellite. The player had just been eliminated from the satellite when the dealer said to him, "Have a nice day." At this, the player saw red and proceeded to pour his bottle of beer over his "tormentor," and that was when the dealer reached for the chair. You would miss the good old days of Downtown Las Vegas.

Each summer during the last week of July, the city of Galway in the West of Ireland hosts a spectacular week of National Hunt Racing, gambling, and partying. The Irish sure know how to enjoy themselves, and the money sloshing around in the Celtic Tiger economy ensures that a very good time is had by all. This is also the week when many late-night poker games take place, with lots of money changing hands.

About 20 years ago, long before mobile phones became everyday necessities, one of these games continued right through to the following afternoon. At around 3:30 p.m., one of the players said, "Damn, I wanted to have a bet on the 3 o'clock race." There were only eight players in this smokey backroom, and they all knew that nobody else had come in or out, so another player said, "That's OK, I'll take the bet." So, this was done. Now they had to wait until 6:30 for the race goers to return with the results. The bet lost! Can you imagine anywhere else in the world where a losing bet would be struck after the race had been run? Such is the atmosphere at Galway.

I've got to say that nothing quite as colourful seems to happen anymore. Whether that's because today's fields are so big and tournament-oriented or because players are trying to behave appropriately in front of the camera crews, who knows, but it's certainly not as entertaining as in days gone by. Today's players are more professional in their behaviour. Once eliminated, they usually slink away to their rooms to play online and vent their frustrations in private. Boring.

P.S. Once the proposition was explained, the girl was quite happy to give a truthful answer, and Freddie returned to the table with a smile on his face.

Lucy has been playing poker for 20 years and has won more than $1 million in tournament prize money all over the world. She prefers playing pot-limit Omaha and pot-limit seven-card stud eight-or-better.