Archive for January, 2011

Over the past few months there have been numerous incidents involving poker players/rooms/casinos being robbed. To be more specific I’ve heard of a high limit player being mugged in the Bellagio bathroom, taking a brick to the head. Two people I back were in a local game at the SunCoast casino when it’s poker room cashier was robbed at gun point. Shortly after the same person strolled into the Bellagio and stole 1.5 Mil from the craps tables. Finally, a few nights ago a local 2/5 player was followed home from Red Rock and cornered in his garage at gun point. Couple that w/myself being cat burglarized last March and I’m feeling less and less ok about living in this shady desert.

I take the necessary precautions and have had numerous discussions w/my peers only to discover that we are in an extremely exploitable position as professionals. That scares me that there isn’t anything/anyone out there looking out for our best interests. I mean this isn’t the wild west. I don’t want to have to fear for my safety every time I play a big game w/$10k in front of me. Take for instance the Bellagio mugging. Now they openly admit that they relinquish any responsibility for the money that THEIR customers play with. In other words, if you have $10k on the table, be it in chips or cash, and someone walks by while you’re in the bathroom and takes it, the Bellagio considers that on you. Furthermore, if you elect to take the money with you and you are mugged, again we assume all the risk. Now granted it’s not a complete solution, but simply adding bathroom attendants to these casinos would at least deter some of these crimes(I’ve heard of at least 3 incidents of people getting mugged in the Bellagio bathroom over the past year and half). Moreover why isn’t the casino protecting their customers? Are they really that arrogant? I mean they are insured, last I checked there is nothing we can do as individuals that can protect us from these incidents. Maybe I’ve found the business venture I’ve been looking for, insuring pro poker player’s capital against theft…?

Beyond feeling a little vulnerable while playing these big games, it’s very easy to take that insecurity home with you. Imagine the bull’s eye we put on ourselves playing these bigger games. These rooms are packed, the majority of the players being low-limit, lifetime losing players as well as a whole casino full of degenerates that I wouldn’t trust as far as I can throw them. Anyone of them would kill to be in the position to have 5-digit cash amounts in their pocket, and I don’t doubt the capability to do what it takes to make that happen is well within a lot of their personalities. Fact is this town is extremely small and ingrained with the concept of exploitation. It’s no wonder we spend so much time looking over our shoulders.

I never thought part of my career would be protecting myself from scum bags and deviants. This game is hard enough to excel at on its own. So what’s the answer? I can’t foresee me ever giving up playing live cash(unless it becomes unprofitable), so that option is out. Obviously valeting, getting a box and living in a gated community is a solid start(though I was robbed in a guarded community, and I’m certain people have still been followed home despite taking the precaution of valet). I feel that more groups such as the PPA need to be organized. Obviously they deal more w/the legal aspect of protecting us as players, but we as a poker community need to unite and form some sort of protective group in order to pressure these casinos to better serve/protect us as customers. I feel that traveling more will ultimately be the end all be all. When you are staying at a casino, keeping your $ in a box/safe, along with only being in town for a limited time, there is really no opportunity for someone to get the upper hand. That being said I’m finding less and less reason to continue to reside in Las Vegas. I hate that in my mind moving back to Pittsburgh is a financial step backward, otherwise I would have made the move long ago. I’m hoping this year better defines my future in this game and living situation. Until then I’ll continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure that I don’t end up another victim…