Tiger Tours the Tables - casino arizona at salt river, phoenix, arizona

11/8 monday

the day begins with some domestic business. i've driven my car some 5000 miles since the beginning of this trip, and the little amber light that says "maintenance required" has turned red. so, off to the local honda service center i go, where they change oil, etc., all for $12.68. it's still under warranty! and they even wash the car for free, too! :)

casino arizona at salt river is the largest poker room in the area. they've got about 50 tables under a huge tent and spread stud and flop games at various limits from 2/4 all the way up to 40/80. although the room has very high ceilings, the smoke just hangs in the air. it's pretty hot and smoky all night. :(

david and i play some 4/8 hold 'em with a full kill, which goes into effect when one player wins two pots, the second of which is at least $40. the rake structure is unusual. first, they take one dollar from the little blind, which goes to the jackpot drop. they rake two dollars when the pot reaches ten bucks, and another dollar when the pot reaches thirty bucks. the game is played with pink $1 chips, and at the end of each hand, the dealer takes the three pink chips accumulated next to the drop hole, replaces them with a yellow $3 chip from the rack, drops the yellow and adds the pinks to the rack. the racks also have white $2 chips for smaller pots. dealers keep their own tips here, and carry their own racks. cash plays in the high limit games, but not in lower limits. seats next to the dealers are not no-smoking seats. they use the forward moving button rule.

the chips used in this casino are extremely light. i believe that standard casino chips weigh something like 9 grams. chips here can't be more than 7.5 grams, which lends the feeling that i'm playing in a home game with cheesy store-bought chips. ::::sigh::::

i'm not wearing my green tropicana jacket - it's too hot. and i'm not wearing any kind of atlantic city poker t-shirt. and for the first time on this trip, i forgot to bring my ridiculous pink-and-purple table fan into the room. but i am wearing my ridiculous blue-and-yellow "tiger" beer baseball cap (a birth- day gift from last year), and i wasn't playing more than 30 minutes when a man taps me on the shoulder and asks, "does the word 'presto' mean anything to you?" all right!! another winner!!

this time, it's our own brandon (bnd66@aol.com)! he's a dealer at salt river, and has been monitoring my slow but steady progress across the country! when he didn't see a post from me for a day or two, he figured that i was in town and jumped at his opportunity even before he went on duty! wtg brandon!! brandon is a good-looking young man, about 30, slim, with short, sandy hair, a goatee and mustache. his ladyfriend, sandy, is also a dealer at salt river, and she's a real looker!! soon after brandon gets his jacket, sandy deals me pocket aces. i raise (what else?). only morris, an old codger who plays almost every hand, calls. the flop comes down ace, queen, rag, rainbow. i bet and morris calls. the turn makes two clubs. bet and call. the river is a third club. i bet and he raises me. ::::sigh:::: he had two high clubs in the hole; flopped a gutshot broadway; and made two running clubs to flush me down the drain. ain't hold 'em great?

by the way, during my evening's play, brandon comes by with some presents for me. besides a few flyers, which describe some tourneys and giveaways, he's got a casino arizona baseball cap for me, *and* a real, genuine casino arizona rulebook (the first cardroom rulebook i've collected on my trip!) wtg brandon (again!)!

pretty soon, patty, another rgp'er, sits down in the box. brandon has told her that he's already won the jacket, but she greets me with a "presto!" anyhow. patty tells me that former professional basketball all-star connie "the hawk" hawkins is playing 4/8 omaha/8 at a nearby table, and that she had given him an old "barge" chip several years ago (patty claims to be the very first dealer at binion's to actually deal a hand of thermonuclear chowaha!). patty tells me that connie has no idea at all of what the chip means. well, i can't ask for much more, can i? i find connie at the omaha game. sure enough, he's got a large gold "barge" chip on top of his stack. i tap him on the shoulder, and repeat brandon's question: "pardon me, mister. does the word 'presto' mean anything to you?" he looks up and shrugs. i tell him that the word sure means something to me.....and then explain about "barge", "presto" and "irwin?"!! he loves it!! we chat for a few moments, and i take my leave. patty later tells me that connie was tickled pink about this! so, at the end of the night, i see that brandon is in the box where connie is playing. i go over and say goodnight to them both. connie winks at me, and brandon asks if this will make the report. "of course it will!" i look at connie and ask him, "shall i describe you as a tall, good- looking black guy, or something else?" he laughs and says, "something else!" :)

one final note. i don't have any real problems with dealers in a cardroom playing live poker in the room when off duty - whether they wear their uni- forms or not. most dealers are pretty poor players. but i really hate the situation when the table has two or more off-duty dealers playing. all too often, they can't help talking shop. and the *real* problem is when the dealer in the box joins in the conversation....this always seems to slow down the game. as most of you know, i am a strong supporter of dealers, and i don't hesitate to tip them. but the guy in the box has more important obligations to attend to before talking shop (gossip) with dealers who are playing. so, when a third off-duty dealer sat down at my table, i picked up and booked it.

i'm going to stay here in phoenix for a day or two...then head west again!

stay tuned!!