I quite enjoy walking on The Strip when the temperature isn’t 115F and I’m not late for something, but there’s a stretch on the east side that invariably tilts me. It begins just south of the Venetian where the sidewalk narrows, so that by the immutable laws of fluid dynamics the flow of people becomes compressed.

For some reason that even retired astrophysicists are at a loss to explain, this is also where an increasing fraction of tourists stop unexpectedly for a chat. The worst of them start waving their arms around like the robot from the original Lost In Space TV series, and because my reflexes are not what they used to be, about once every two months one of these whirling dervishes smacks me in the face.

This has become such a frequent occurrence that I have taken to asking the person who just clocked me where they are from. After an apology along the lines of “Oh sorry, eh, I was showing Gordie that tree,” they always respond that they are from somewhere in Saskatchewan that I have never heard of. My simulations suggest that by ultra-summer 2019 I will have heard of their home-town thanks to a repeat strike.

A couple of weeks ago I had just entered this hazardous corridor when a woman came running towards me with a beaming smile on her face. Due to some past issues with alcohol and generally weak eyesight it’s not that unusual for a woman to recognize me whereas I have no idea who she is. This can often produce hurt feelings, particularly with ex-wives, so I was simultaneously puzzled and relieved when the fast-approaching woman shouted:

“Are you Alejandro!?”

I shook my head. The woman seemed crestfallen.

“Crap!” she said, and disappeared into The Gauntlet of Waving Arms.

A couple of minutes later I was about to duck into Harrah’s to avoid the worst of the foot traffic when two teenage girls barreled towards me.

“Can we take our picture with you?” one said breathlessly.

I peered over the top of my shades using my best professorial look usually reserved for a student who has just claimed their Advanced Mechanics assignment has fallen down a volcano.

They both took a step back and looked worried. I kept walking.

Passing the poker podium under assault from a horrible Country dirge emanating from Toby Keith’s, Detroit Anthony yelled “seat, Kat?”

“I am boycotting this place until they change the fucking music,” I replied.

It occurred to me I might be in a bad mood.

My grandmother, who was a fortune-teller and the most superstitious person I have ever met, firmly maintained that “things happen in threes.” Emerging from The Cromwell to take the footbridge to Bally’s, I was confronted by a high-speed woman partially obscured by one of those devices that is too large to be a phone but too small to be an iPad which I have taken to calling “Phads” in the hope the wretched objects will phade from phashion into obscurity.

“Alejandro!!!” she yelled.

“Miss. Ma’am. Miss. I am not Alejandro.”

“Yes you are!”


In desperation I code-switched to the accent of my youth, a machine-gun Cockney that I had to water down on arrival to these shores nearly thirty years ago because nobody in Baltimore could understand a word I was saying and which Americans always confuse with Australian, possibly as a result of Dick van Dyke’s excruciatingly dreadful accent in Mary Poppins that left millions of Londoners wondering why an Aussie chimney sweep was dancing over the rooftops of The Smoke.

“Lissen darlin’, do oy sahnd loyk an Alley Arndro?”

“Er. No.”

“Ave a noyce day.”

When I entered the relative safe haven of Bally’s and was immediately confronted with Fatboy Slim’s “Praise you,” which I had only heard twenty-three times during my last six-hour session, my mood edged from dark to thunderous.

Twenty minutes later I had determined that the three-seat was going to be my primary target. VPIP/PFR 80/5. Tended to limp-call rather than limp-fold. Fit-or-fold post. It wasn’t long before he was shooting me annoyed stares and eye-rolls as I pounded on him.

He limped in. I overcalled the button. The small blind folded and the big blind tapped the table.

Check check check.

Check check check.

Check check check.

You may wonder why I did not raise pre nor subsequently take a stab at this unwanted pot. In fact I was wondering the same thing when I scribbled the notes for this article. I suspect the hand coincided with a text informing me I had the sixteenth pick in an upcoming 18-team PPR draft and I was trying to figure out if I could get both Keenan Allen and Brandon Marshall. Just let it go, okay, it’s not important.

And then the dealer said:

“Show me a winner,” and leaned back in the box with his hands folded across his stomach.

Nobody moved. The dealer said nothing. I had made fourth pair with my 74s and had no desire to show the table the junk I was playing on the button unless it was a winner.

“First one over takes the pot!” said the dealer.

Finally the big blind flipped up Queen-high, the three-seat tabled A-rag, and I showed my pair.

“Oh nice slowroll, buddy,” said the 3-seat with venom.

Initially I assumed he was joking until I remembered people who are pissed off at someone don’t joke.

I had the entire pot firmly between thumb and forefinger as I was about to add it to the large stack of whites I’d already stolen from him.

“Really, sir?” I said, waving the pot at him.

The dealer directed a disapproving sigh at me, apparently oblivious to the fact he had created the current situation. And while I make a point of being polite to dealers, largely because without them I might have to get a job, this and the Alejandro business pushed me over the edge.

“Here’s an idea,” I barked. “How about next showdown we pretend we’re in a real casino?”

I played the next two hands, then decided it was time for a walk and a cool down.

Look. I’m not a rules nit. And I recognize that playing in “tourist rooms” means there will be a certain informality in the application of TDA and related house rules. But this “show me a winner” and “first one over” crap is not only becoming an epidemic, it also works against the aim the dealers presumably have in mind when deciding not to ask hands to be shown down in order. An issue, incidentally, which is magnified by the fact there are still many parts of the world where the order at showdown is determined by last aggressor. It baffles me why a dealer would slow the action thereby reducing the number of hands they get out.

Being somewhat self-reflective, however, it occurred to me that my mood may have blown the whole thing out of proportion. I decided I should turn to The Guvnor, a fellow-Londoner who has played poker and managed poker rooms on two continents and upon whom I frequently rely in matters of poker rules, decisions and etiquette.

I won’t quote directly his response, partly because few can decipher his auto-corrected dialect and partly because his suggested response as a player to this situation was… Suffice it to say many of my friends are poker dealers and putting into print radical counter-measures against inefficient ones may damage those friendships.

But The Guvnor was very clear on one point: it’s a dealer’s job to run the game and leaning back expecting the players to do so was inappropriate. In his capacity as floor, The Guvnor would use such a situation as a training moment and have a quiet word with the dealer at the end of the down.

Still wondering if I was slipping ever further into grumpy-old-local syndrome, I ran the situation past Doug and Comrade Vape. I’d picked a bad moment with the latter as he was carrying out weekly maintenance on his device that included a sensitive re-calibration of the flux capacitor. But Doug was all over it.

“Ambiguities are where angle shots live,” he intoned gravely.

I was so moved by this response that I nearly jumped up from the floor where I was curled, but remembered just in time about my knees.

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “That’s the point! Good rules keep the game moving and minimize scumbaggery.”

Now not all poker rules fall into this category as anyone who has played at Mandalay Bay or South Point can readily attest, and it seems to me that Doug’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker Rules, which I state formally below, might be a useful means for testing the efficacy and desirability of many poker rules.

Doug’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker Rules

A rule is deemed good if it removes ambiguity, thereby minimizing potential angle shots.

Kat’s Corollary

But look out for those assholes who memorize the entire freaking rule-book for the sole purpose of calling out the tiniest infractions so they can puff out their chests as if saying “I am an expert, and you are a worthless rube.”

And finally, kittens, if anyone can tell me who Alejandro is, and why people want to be photographed with him, and whether there is any advantage to me, monetary or otherwise, in pretending to be Alejandro, please let me know.

~ Kat Martin, September 2016.
Twitter: @TheGameKat

Showing 2 comments
  • persuadeo

    Yes, but the real way to get to Kat is apparently to sit down at his table and say, “excuse me, are you Owen Smith?”

  • Kat

    That might get me my first 86