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A Poker Life – Part 2

A Poker Life At California Grand Casino – Part 2

Hey everyone glad to have you back for the second installment of my journey from learning how to play poker to being one of the many familiar faces at the California Grand Casino in San Francisco’s East Bay! In Part 1 of Poker Life At The California Grand Casino I told you about matching wits with my Grandma and playing with fraternity brothers and opponents more than double my age. The final chapter that sent me towards a life on the felt begins with an unlucky break in the most literal sense of the word.

New Year’s Eve: Dec. 31 1999. Massive New Year’s Eve celebrations abound Y2K fears unrealized and lots of uncertainty in the air as we slowly began to assimilate and embrace the new millenium-2000 here we come! But just prior to the New Year’s Eve festivities I finally made the very tough decision to drop out of college in Colorado and return home to California. This particular new year-2000-marked a completely new journey with no guarantees except that I would be living life on my terms. I had no idea where life was going to lead me but I was determined to enjoy the ride!

As it turned out that ride led me to a very rewarding environmental job that allowed me to travel a great deal. As I worked up and down the California coast I would take time in the evenings to find the closest local cardroom and play some poker. Every time I headed out of town for work you could find me at the local poker tables. I gained a great deal of experience during my time with this new job but it didn’t last long. The company lost a large contract and had to lay off workers; I was a casualty. I struggled to find work with other companies getting hired and laid off two more times. Throughout this turbulent period of employment I had been playing more and more poker and playing it quite well. Eventually I was putting in 50+ hours a week with excellent results so I simply kept playing. Without ever intending to I had evolved into a professional poker player!

Being the sports nut that I am I played on many sports teams-both as a youth and young adult-one of them being a soccer team. During a particularly grueling match an opponent tried to slide tackle the ball away from me. He crashed into my knee my cleats stuck in the ground and everyone on the field heard a loud POP! I wasn’t sure at the time what exactly had happened but I knew it was serious. The MRI at the hospital confirmed what I had feared: I had torn my ACL. I had to undergo two surgeries as a result of my injury and even with insurance it was far from cheap. My bankroll–the money I had been using to play poker and make a living–was now being diverted to repairing my knee.

Needing a new profession and not wanting to totally abandon my poker playing I naturally gravitated to the casinos. The California Grand was where I played the most. It had always been a friendly and enjoyable place to play. I liked the customers and the employees and the competition was challenging. My game continued to improve. I spent countless hours observing the dealers. The thought started to cross my mind that perhaps I could be a dealer. This could be an ideal profession for someone like me. Of course I had no prior experience working in a casino no dealing background and had not gone to dealing school-not exactly great credentials. What I did have was persistence and a deep understanding of the nuances of the game. After speaking with the general manager I was told to practice and come back for an audition. I practiced constantly, passed the audition, and began my career as a dealer in the East Bay with California Grand Casino. The rest is history. After dealing for several years I moved on to work as a tournament director dealer trainer and floorman before settling into my current role of prop player blog writer and utility employee. Life is unpredictable and you never know what seemingly innocuous event can end up changing your life forever. There have been many bumps and bruises along the way both literally and figuratively and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Just like a day at the poker table life is unpredictable…might as well enjoy the ride!

Until next time see you at the tables!