"Send em all back, that's what I say"
"Who?" I replied, somewhat taken aback.
"The Muslims, all of them, send them back"
This was my first verbal exchange at the 1/5 Spread Limit Seven Card Stud game at the Mirage. As an opening salvo, this was somewhat of a statement of intent.
"But send them back where?" I asked in response.
"HOME" replied the elderly lady, now clearly getting agitated as she discarded her hand on fourth street. There was heavy action of a $2 bet from a man across the table, who from first glance, it was difficult to distinguish whether he was alive or dead.
"But most Muslims in the UK were born there" I stated matter of factly, as I brought it in with my three up.
"SEND EM' BACK" was the unequivocal response from the lady.
Clearly we weren't getting anywhere fast in this debate.
The elderly moustached man sitting next to me now chimes in, "They're all terrorists anyway, those a-rabs"
"You really think that?" I inquired somewhat incredulously.
"Damn straight" he emphatically answered, as he applied the heat with a fifth street bet of two dollars which was too much for his opponent, a sweet looking old lady who had thus far not revealed any prejuduces of her own.
I was only playing this game whilst I was on the list for the 1/2 no limit game, but when the floorman called me over the tell me that my seat was available, I knew I had to stay here at Racist Pensioner Stud Club (RPSC). Average age of the table must have been around 75, and needless to say, this proved to be my favourite game in the whole of Vegas.
The hotshot arrives
The game was slow of course and as I folded several hands in a row I considered my options. Should I argue with these people, call them racist, rile them up, ask them what they think about them there homo-sexuals? Or should I sit here and try to take some of their money (extremely slowly).
Fortunately I didn't have to make a decision, as a well dressed middle aged man in sunglasses took the open seat on the table.
1-5 Spread Limit Seven Card Stud is like this. Three cards are dealt to each player, two face down and one face up. The person with the lowest up card brings it in for $1 and then there are five rounds of betting where each player can bet or raise between $1-$5. Each player receives four more cards, three face up and the last one face down. There are no blinds or no antes, just the solitary $1 bring in. Clearly this was not an action game and the old folks were content to just bet $1 or $2 each street. Once someone bet $3 and the rest of the table insta-folded with looks of shock and fear on their faces. Like I say, an action game.
This new young hot shot (he was about 45 years old) had other ideas.
"You don't have to bet five bucks on every street you know son" pleaded the half dead looking guy, clearly exasperated. This big bet action was obviously not good for his health.
"Ahh know" replied the hot shot in a thick southern accent, now actually chewing an unlit cigar. He'd dragged in three or four pots in a row and the lack of racist comments for the past few minutes indicated that the rest of the table clearly had something to new to ponder.
And so it was that my rush of cards dictated that I was the one who was destined to stand up to this interloper ruining our little casual prejudiced game of cards.
First I spiked a small two pair on fifth street and hung on against his $5 bets on fifth, sixth and seventh and was relieved when it held up against his kings. Next hand I had a myriad of straight and flush draws in my four exposed cards and made the hotshot fold an open pair of fours in a decently sized pot. Finally a few hands later I began rolled up (the best opening hand in Seven Card Stud, three of a kind) and waited until fifth street to pull the trigger and check raise to get full value from the two pair of the hotshot.
When he lost the last of his chips a couple of hands later and strutted off, an audible sigh was heard around the table (and that wasn't just from the guy who had breathing problems).
Mr racist moustache man turned to me and said "Well done son, that sonnavabitch deserved it"
"But he wasn't even Islamic", I wanted to, but sadly didn't reply.
Then I received the heartiest and strongest pat on that back that I have ever been the recipient of. "I'm proud of you son" praised the racist old man, smile beaming from underneath his grey facial fuzz, "you really showed him not to mess with us".
I was now one of them.
Time to leave
As the game returned to its monster $10 pots, there was clearly nowhere else to go from here, so I left the table shortly afterwards.
"Send em back" the old lady exclaimed one more time, winking at me as I racked up my now not inconsequential mound of $1 chips. I sighed as I made my way to the cashiers cage, knowing that all was right with the world in one corner of the Mirage Poker Room in Las Vegas.
So there we have it, possibly one of my greatest achievements in poker, I'd earned the respect and admiration of a racist old man with a moustache and made friends with a prejudiced geriatric woman.
WSOP main event final table or not, I wonder if Phil Ivey has ever achieved that?