I am pleased to have ‘drunks’ at my poker table

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In my last column, I discussed the “Poker Pests” described in Max Shapiro’s fascinating book, Read’em and Laugh. Max is a super poker writer/columnist/reporter and humorist with a vivid imagination, who created (among other characters) the nefarious fictional Big Denny.

Max describes various “poker pests” – “like bugs and beasties at a picnic” that are practically unavoidable. Among others, these include “snails,” “happy wanderers,” “Russian dealers,” and “card throwers.” I shared these descriptions with GT readers, adding my own comments as appropriate.

In no way would I try to emulate Max for he is one in a million. Max lists the “card throwers” as the “ultimate pests” – players who throw their hole cards in anger when the hand went badly for them. In my opinion, next in rank – the “penultimate pests” – are the “obnoxious drunks” at the poker table.

Frankly, I am pleased to have “drunks” at my poker table. They lack the focus the game demands of winners. They fail to make the best decisions and ultimately are bound to lose their chips to the rest of us. “Happy drunks” are there to have a great time; and being a bit tipsy helps in that regard. (Here’s to the “happy drunks” at my poker table!) But “obnoxious drunks”…

The other night, I joined a table dominated by an “obnoxious drunk.” And I do mean he literally subjugated the table by his constant shouting and challenging the other players (including me). “I dare you to call my raise!”

He raised almost every hand, round after round. The person played almost every hand dealt to him. For certain, he entered and raised pots with poor starting hands. (Frankly, I was pleased to take advantage of him).

After losing a “bundle” at one seat, he moved to another seat at the table. When possible, I calmly changed to a seat to his left. He was not only aggressive in playing his hands, but also in addressing other players at the table.

Often belligerent, he sometimes pointed his finger in a neighbor’s face, scowling at him. Several times he actually physically challenged another player by threatening to punch him – even a young woman who had just come to our table. Imagine!

She stared back at him. As he moved from seat to seat, he brought a bottle of beer with him. Several times, after emptying his wallet, he left the table to get money to buy more chips when he was almost broke, always returning with another beer in hand.

Numerous times, the dealers admonished our “obnoxious drunk.” Once he actually castigated a dealer for questioning his actions and words. His attitude: “How dare you question me!”

His words became slurred. On several occasions, a floorman was summoned by the dealer. After being reprimanded, our “obnoxious drunk” promised to guard his tongue and behave better. Not for long! A few hands later, he was back at it.

After several hours, the nightshift manager came to our table and calmly spoke to him. I didn’t hear all of the conversation but I could see that the manager was pleasant in his demeanor but very firm in rebuking our “obnoxious drunk.”

Apparently, the response was not acceptable. Soon one, then three security guards appeared on the scene and, arms folded, stood to the side while the manager spoke to the “obnoxious drunk.” Guards moved closer and the manager calmly racked up the chips in front of the “obnoxious drunk.”

All eyes were on them, as they calmly escorted him to the cage to cash in – and leave the casino.

In Max Shapiro’s next edition of Read’em and Laugh, I suggest he add this “Poker Pest” to his list…

Next issue, we’ll deal with another of Max’s zany stories and viewpoints about our poker world. Get ready!
Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at [email protected]

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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