Playing Poker with the Devil


Ernie Sherer III

I met Ernie Scherer Jr. many years ago in Las Vegas at the Gold Coast playing Omaha, one of his favorite games. This is a story about his tragic murder and how it was woven into my life.

I knew his son Ernie Scherer III from the tournament circuit. Ernie was a charming, good-looking poker player who could at times turn into a completely different person. And not a good one.

Around 2005 when I was the executive host at the Bicycle Casino, my wife at the time Charity was playing a tournament at the Bicycle Casino. When Charity came home later that night, she broke down and started crying over something that happened in the tournament that night. She had just started playing poker, so I thought she was just being overly sensitive.

Charity said there was a player there that was so mean he was the devil. She said he was rude and evil, and I had to do something. My thought was she was overreacting, and I was in a tough spot.  I was the executive host, and he’s a customer; what could I do that the tournament staff did not already handle?

But Charity persisted. She said I had to do something about him. She kept saying over and over, “You don’t understand, he’s the devil.” She finally said, “If you don’t do something, I will.”

I would later find out that the player Charity had a problem with was Ernie Scherer III.

Miracle in Tunica


A few months later in 2006 I decided to go down south to play the Jack Binion WSOP Circuit Omaha event in Tunica, Mississippi. I looked forward to playing Omaha, the game I created with my friends. I hadn’t been home in a while, so it was very exciting for me.

I had a ritual of praying in my room before playing a tournament and opening the Bible to a random place and reading a passage. The passage I stumbled upon described Jesus riding a donkey on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

I made Day Two and was finally heads-up at the final table with Ernie. The match lasted six hours. At one point, I had Ernie down to one chip, and he came back and evened the match. I tried to make a deal with him, but he refused.

He then proceeded to get me down to one 5,000 chip. I dreaded Charity arriving to see me playing for the ring against the person she thought was the devil.

On the break Charity said, “If you let this man beat you, don’t you ever speak to me again.”

Now, that’s incentive.

When I sat back down, Ernie laughed at my one chip and said, “You’ve been riding me like a donkey. Did you really think I was a donkey?” I thought, “Wait a minute. That’s the story I read in the Bible. Why would he say that?”

I kept thinking about the donkey reference and praying for a miracle. From that point on, I won every hand and the ring.

Ernie seemed to spiral out of control after that and went on a massive losing streak back in Los Angeles. It was rumored he lost several hundred thousand dollars online and owed players lots of money.

Unimaginable Tragedy


Ernie Sherer Jr. and his wife Charlene Abendroth

Sometime during that period, Ernie came up with a plan to kill his parents–his dad Ernie Jr., who taught him how to play poker and loved him dearly, and his mother Charlene Abendroth.

In March 7, 2008, he left Las Vegas and made stop at Stateline where he purchased a baseball bat. Ernie turned off his cell phone and drove 11 hours to Alameda County, where his parents lived, and brutally beat his parents to death at the couple’s luxury home.

Their bodies were discovered a week later. Authorities say Scherer Jr., 60, had been seeking to recoup a $616,000 mortgage loan to his son for his Brea house just days before he and Abendroth, 57, were found dead, according to the “East Bay Times.”

Ernie staged the scene to look like a robbery, including bloody footprints in a shoe size that was larger than his. However, investigators were able to trace the shoes and baseball bat to a Nike outlet store at Stateline after finding a warranty card for the bat at the murder scene.

Ernie was convicted in 2011 of murdering his parents and sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole. It is believed he did it to collect his inheritance to pay off his gambling debts.

Scherer’s case was profiled on “48 Hours” in an episode titled “The Country Club Murders.”

Ernie Scherer is now serving two life sentences. I guess Charity was right all along; this man was the devil.




Expand Your Poker Horizons by Patricia Chavira

We have a poker tournament at my job every few months. Whether it’s a cash game or tournament, the game we always play is the ever-popular No-Limit Hold’em.

It’s hard to get people out of their comfort zone whether it’s a friendly game at work or at home. Luckily, Los Angeles card rooms host several non-Hold’em poker tournaments for players ready to expand their poker horizons.

Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California added 7-card stud to its line up recently, including the only weekly 7-card stud  tournament on the west coast.

The stud tournament features a $60 buy-in and is held every Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

You will see some great stud players from around town.

If you want to try your hand at stud before you play in the tournament, Hollywood Park features a live-action stud game everyday hosted by poker great Mike Rocco. The game is played high only.

Stud is one of the oldest card games, and in past decades was a staple in Las Vegas and the east coast. The late Chip Reese and Danny Robison were great stud players and moved to Las Vegas to play higher stud.

Players need to play all games to be a well- rounded player. And another game to add to your poker arsenal is Omaha.

BIG O Omaha Comes to Town

5-card Omaha, or Big O Omaha as it’s popularly called, has exploded in popularity around Los Angeles’ card rooms. It is certainly a game full of action.

Hollywood Park Casino also started the new wave of Big O games and is the only casino with a weekly tournament featuring  Big O high low.

The Big O tournament has a $60 buy in and is played every Saturday at 3 pm. It features some added perks of a food voucher and $2,000 guarantee. The tournament is hosted by Omaha creator Robert Turner.

For Big O cash action, there are several games of $4/8 and $6/$12 daily. Hollywood Park Casino also spreads PLO Omaha and $40/$80 Omaha daily.

So, if you are a Hold’em player, Hollywood Park Casino spreads a variety of games to take you to the next level.  Their speciality tournaments help you practice for the WSOP and mixed games.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.


Our Favorite Gambling Movies by Patricia Chavira

My husband and I recently watched the movie Casino for the millionth time. It is my favorite movie. That led us to talking about our favorite gambling movies.

One of Robert’s favorite movies is The Gambler starring James Caan. He says that the movie had to be written by someone who knew a great deal about gambling—how it affects your family, your social life and your entire outlook.

Only a person who been through it all could write such a brutal account of the gambler’s lifestyle. One minute he was on top of the world and the next he lost it all.

There is a scene that stands out in particular where Caan’s character was trying to drink milk, but his stomach was in knots from worrying about his bets, He started hitting his stomach to loosen up the knots.

We went to see the remake that came out in 2014 starring Mark Wahlberg, but it was a great disappointment. It didn’t draw you in like the original. Robert said the portrayal didn’t feel authentic.

The original was a true portrayal of gambling; the remake was a glossy, Hollywood version of gambling. It seemed phony.

We differ in on our opinion of Rounders. Robert said there was a scene in the movie where John Malkovich’s character KGB shuffles the cards but didn’t cut them. The movie lost him right there.

I still love that movie and watch it when Robert is not around.

Color of Money is another of his favorite movies that he introduced me to.  This movie starred Paul Newman as pool hustler Edward “Fast Eddie’ Felson. Newman won an Oscar for this role.

Robert traveled with pool players betting on matches, and he even backed some pool players, and he thought the writing was outstanding.  I’m no pool player, but I have to agree it’s a great movie.

I have watched Casino so many times that Robert is now convinced it is the best movie about gambling of all time. It covers the whole gamut of the gambling business.

It’s especially fun watching the movie with Robert because he knows some of the people who were portrayed in the movie.

He stayed at the Stardust 4-5 months a year from 1978-1985 when some of the action of the movie takes place.

We love gambling movies. What are some of yours?

Reflections on the 2017 World Series of Poker by Robert Turner

john hesp

Reflecting back on this year’s WSOP Main Event, I believe it was a good move to change from the old November 9 format to playing it out in July.

This change created a lot of excitement and had people talking about the Main Event all over the gaming industry. I believe the broadcast changes contributed to the third largest turnout in WSOP history with 7,221 players.  

This  momentum kept building with so many storylines fueled by amatuer John Hesp’s Cinderella story. John Hesp, 64, from Bridlington England is a grandfather of seven whose biggest cash before the WSOP was first place for $1,000 in his regular Sunday rebuy tournament at Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Hull in June.

When he made the final 27 last Monday, he posted this on his Facebook page:

“Most people will know I seldom post on Facebook but I wanted to let you all know that I am having the most surreal experience of my life…I am truly “living the dream.”

John put the fun back into the game we love. He was polite, humble and ended up in fourth place winning $2,500,000 for his efforts.

The final three players–Scott Blumstein from New Jersey, Daniel Ott from Pennsylvania and Benjamin Pollak from Paris, France–returned Saturday with two of the three players having no real experience in the WSOP.

It was a very exciting finish with two twenty-five year old players going head to head.

Blumstein held a commanding lead all three days after his trip aces dealt a blow to co-leader Hesp who had the top two pair; that hand was the game changer.

Blumstein would go wire to wire to win the 2017 WSOP Main Event for over $8,000,000 beating out Daniel Ott who finished second for $4,700,000. The first player out on Saturday was Benjamin Pollak who was the only professional poker player in the final three. He won $3,500,000 for his third place finish.

This year’s World Series Of Poker brought back memories of my final table appearance in 1994 reflecting on how much it meant to me. Poker is so much bigger today than it was then.

No one could have imagined poker would become a global phenomenon it has become today. The WSOP announced a partnership with Tencent, the number one gaming publisher from China.

The WSOP-Tencent partnership will expand poker in Asia along with producing live events, training of staff and teaching future players. Tencent is now worth $300 billion and is now among the world’s top 10 most valuable companies, joining the likes of Apple and Google.

Years ago I had a vision of streaming cash poker games on the Internet. That led me to create the first live streaming of cash poker games at the Bicycle Casino, which became Live at Bike. That was fifteen years ago.

Now that vision has evolved into this year’s WSOP Main Event being broadcast and streamed from Day 1. Partnering with PokerGo, a digital video subscription service that gives fans access to exclusive live poker tournaments, added more media excitement.

They did a masterful job with this year’s WSOP. The broadcast team for streaming and TV kept it moving at a fast pace. I kept asking my wife to put the World Series on our TV; she just handed me her tablet instead.

ESPN commentator Norman Chad was very entertaining this year. He even dressed up as John Hesp to provide humor. The all-star broadcast team included Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Lon McEachern, and Kara Scott.

Others were David Tuchman who started on Live At The Bike. Antonio Esfandiari, Phil and Daniel are all great pros who provided color and insight of the game we loved.

It will be interesting to see the final number of viewers of the 2017 WSOP.

Lastly, I want to congratulate this year’s two WSOP Hall of Fame inductees Phil Ivey and David “Devilfish” Ulliott. They became the Hall of Fame’s 53rd and 54th individuals to enter poker’s most exclusive club.

First-time eligible Phil was a lock with ten WSOP bracelets to his credit and $23,856,034 in live poker winnings. He is arguably the most famous poker player in the world.

Ulliott, who passed away from cancer in April 2015, gets the ultimate recognition in poker for his role in growing the game in England.

His family commented on this year’s Main Event saying: “One thing we know he would be happy about is the progress of John Hesp in the Main Event, a regular at Napoleon’s in Hull, David’s home city in the UK. John represents what poker is all about–a true game of the people.”

I couldn’t agree more. Rest in peace.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. He is most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at and on Twitter @thechipburner.


Two Poker Players I Would Like to Have a Beer With

Andrew Neeme

Two players I would love to have a beer with are Andrew Neeme and Dan Colman. If I had a who’s who of poker for 2017, these two guys would be one and two on that list.

There are some players that speak from the heart and put some integrity back into the game of poker. These two guys are what poker needs today with so much negative in the past decade.

Andrew Neeme produces YouTube videos that are outstanding. He travels around the states and plays live and gives great insight into the great game of poker.

Andrew is very humble and keeps true to himself and his projects. His videos have something for every level of poker player whether you want to learn poker or improve your game.

Some teachers are very arrogant and really don’t teach or explain poker the way Andrew Neeme does. Not many poker instruction impresses me, but Andrew’s presentation does with the insight he gives.

I hope that he continues his hard work on the game of poker because he is so spot on.

Dan Colman’s $15 Million Score

Another player who impresses me is Dan Colman. He is best known for winning $15.3 million in the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop at the 2014 World Series of Poker.

He’s second on the US all-time money list having won over $28,000,000 in total live earnings.

After winning the One Drop, Dan didn’t talk to the media, which caused some controversy. Later he said that poker is not for everyone, and he did not want to be part of promoting false hope.

Dan said poker is very hard and not for everyone. Dan took a lot of criticism for not sugarcoating the realities of the poker world.

I was surprised that he was so honest and seemed to care about people and the integrity of the game we love.

I listened to Dan’s interview with Joey Ingram and was even more impressed with his story of how he started and the work he put into the game after admitting that he was a big sucker.

That was before he found his niche and became a heads-up specialist.

He is such a natural at the game of poker and so down-to-earth about life and poker.

I really like players that call out problems with the poker industry.

Sites like Two Plus Two and now vlogs give players a voice that was not there when I started in poker. We all have a duty to police our games because no one is going to do it for us.

If you look back over poker history, few people had the courage to call out what’s wrong with our industry. I’m glad to see these players and sites popping up today that discuss what needs to be changed.

Poker has come a long way now that players are starting to speak out and finding their voices. I feel poker is in good hands.

To Dan Colman and Andrew Neeme, let’s have lunch or a beer someday.

Watch Andrew Neeme’s YouTube channel and Joey Ingram’s Poker Life podcast for the latest and best poker content.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at and on Twitter @thechipburner.

The Mindful Poker Player


There is not much distinction between an average player and a great player. The average player can do much to improve his mental game. Never underestimate the power of your mind.

Meditation can be very beneficial before you play. I like to meditate at least an hour before the tournament.  This helps me to be in tune with what I want to accomplish.

What I will tell you can help you to prepare for the WSOP in 6 weeks and may even help you become a world champion.

The most important thing is to prepare your mind. Take charge of the mental part of the game to reach your goals. I promise you a well-prepared player is hard to beat.

A negative person can’t beat a positive person who thinks he’s going to win. The one who planned his way to the top will beat the one who is just wishing to be there or trying to get lucky.

The person who has a goal and a plan will kick your ass at the table and in life.

Being mentally alert will give you an advantage over most other players. If you are not a naturally positive person, then you must reprogram your thoughts. Progress requires change.

You must get rid of all thoughts that are not focused on the task at hand. You have to bring your mind into laser focus. Focus on your power and think, “I play better than my opponents. They will make mistakes if I have the patience to wait and take advantage of every situation. “

You can erase all thoughts around you and just focus on your opponents and what information the game is giving you. I teach players to watch a game before playing or when you enter a game, to relax and take deep breaths and just watch and take in as much of the information the opponents are giving you.

This will put yourself in a poker state of mind.

You can study, read books, watch videos or television to gain knowledge about how to play from position to hand selection and when and where to play. But is it very hard to find information on how to turn knowledge into wisdom.

Winning comes when you apply the knowledge you have into wisdom.

One story I like to share is the best player in the world cannot choose the winning hand among three hands if he chooses first. For example, say it’s Ace King versus two fours or a Jack Ten of clubs. If he takes the Ace King, then you take the pair of fours. If he takes the fours, you take the jack ten suited. And last, if he takes the Jack Ten, you take the Ace King.

Even the best player can be presented with a no-win situation. That shows you how close a good player is to a great player.

In the end, it’s all about mindset. The choices you make will resonate not only in poker but in your life.

See you at the final table of the World Series.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Welcome to Silicon Beach: L.A.-Born Tech Can Shape Gambling on the Westside by Robert Turner


Poker revenue at Hollywood Park Casino, located in Inglewood near the Westside of Los Angeles, is surging.

Though the media is focused on the $2.6-billion stadium being built for two NFL franchises (the Los Angeles Rams or the San Diego Chargers) as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project, there is a new game in town that really can be a game changer for gambling on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Silicon Beach is the name for the Westside of Los Angeles that is home to over 500 tech startup companies. From Google to Snap Inc., the company behind the popular mobile chat app Snapchat, major tech companies have opened offices or are headquartered in the region.

The area includes the cities of Culver City, Playa Vista, Marina Del Rey, Venice Beach and Santa Monica–all just minutes from Hollywood Park Casino.

Billions in venture capital are financing the tech boom, and it looks like the money will continue to flow with the expected Snap Inc. IPO scheduled for Thursday, March 2.

With the company looking to price its upcoming initial public offering at between $14 and $16 a share, Snap could have a market value of more than $22 billion. The company could raise nearly $3.7 billion, according to an article in CNN Money.

This influx of money can transform the region and could have a major impact on the gaming world from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

The California and Nevada gaming industry and the way it is marketed may look different in the near future because of E-Sports and Internet gaming being developed in Silicon Beach. California gaming laws need to catch up with the new gaming opportunities on the horizon.

Nevada has been working hard on new gaming regulations to allow the new generation of gamers to play and bet legally on games of their choice. There is even some support to changing the gambling age to 18 in Nevada.

This new generation may not find table games or slots entertaining, but they do like games, and one game in particular they love is poker. Poker, along with E-Sports, may be the engine that drives the new gambling economy.

The gambling companies of the future and the businesses that market them may come from Silicon Beach and Southern California in the not-to-distant future.

Industries of the Future

Image result for silicon beach images

Thousands of new jobs will be created in social media companies, gaming studios and digital marketing companies like Jukin Media, the global leader in viral video licensing. These companies, though not household names, create and market the content that millions will purchase or view.

It’s time casinos get into digital marketing if they want to reach this new generation of gamers.

The employees who work in these industries range in age from their early 20s to 40s, and many of these tech and gaming employees are locating and working on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Ramy Wahba, Casino Manager of Hollywood Park Casino, recognizes the need to reach out to this new demographic, and he said they are creating a total new experience for the young gamers starting with their tournaments and service. They gave tournament players their own deli for faster service. And that’s just the beginning.

I recently located to the area with my wife who works at a video game company on the Westside. It’s a very special place now, and I forward to this exciting time in the gaming industry.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” at to receive notifications of new posts by email.


A Valentine’s Tribute to My Husband Robert Turner by Patricia Chavira


My husband Robert Turner and I recently did a radio interview together on High Roller Radio to discuss my latest article on Phyllis Caro. Robert was asked about how hard relationships were for poker players, and his answer was essentially saying I don’t listen to his advice.

His answer inspired this article. Thanks, Robert.

I admit I may not always take his advice, but even he would readily admit we have very different playing styles. He certainly has earned the nickname “the Chipburner” as I have watched him at the tables the five years we have been together.

He didn’t become a world-class player by being timid. He takes calculated risks, but it is still nerve-racking to watch him play.

Being the wife of a professional poker player is not always easy. Because Robert is one of the one of the hardest-working people you will ever meet in the casino or any industry for that matter, I have spent many holidays at the casino with my husband—New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, my birthday.

But relationships require compromise, so I have established some boundaries—like no phone after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Sorry anyone who is trying to reach him between those hours!). And one day a week is designated as “Patty Day.” The funny thing is I often chose to spend it at the casino anyways playing a tournament while Robert rails me.

With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) only three months away, I prepare for long days railing my husband. He likes to be able look up and see me and talk to me between hands, so I stay close leaving only to charge my phone.

Robert has changed my life. I learned how to play Omaha from the creator of the game. I learned about the history of poker that I could never have read in books. He told me stories about players you will never see on tv. He knows everyone and everything about poker. He lives for the game.

When we were dating, he had some big ideas about writing books and asked me if I could write. I said, “I can string two sentences together.”

Well, we started a blog together, and then he started writing for Gaming Today. Every week we bounce ideas off each other about poker, writing and life. Robert is an inspiration to me every day.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.


Pioneering Women in Poker: Phyllis Caro, Part 2


Last week I wrote about how Phyllis Caro got her start in poker and how she ended up working with her husband at the time, Mike Caro, and founder of the Bicycle Club, George Hardie, to clean up poker in California.

People like myself who have been playing poker since the boom times have no idea how bad it was, especially for the dealers. As a dealer herself at one time, Phyllis can tell you some horror stories, but as she says, it was an accepted part of poker.

Players acted out and blamed the dealers for everything. She says players were not only verbally abusive towards dealers, but physically as well.  My husband Robert Turner described a horrific incident where a player actually got out a lighter and tried to burn a dealer.

It did not happen overnight, but Phyllis was instrumental in helping stop dealer abuse. Players were given warnings and then time out (yes, like children). Poker was changed forever once management took a stance against dealer abuse.

Phyllis continued to rise through the ranks from Dealer Coordinator to Vice President of Casino Operations of the Bicycle Club. In between, she worked tournaments becoming the first female Tournament Director making such innovations as starting the first non-smoking tournaments.

Always an advocate for women in poker, she started the annual Queen of Hearts tournament, which runs to this day; in fact, it was just held this Sunday at the Bike.

As Tournament Director of the Bike, she also ran the second largest tournament in the industry at the time, the Diamond Jim Brady. In 1993, when Phyllis became the Vice President of Casino Operations, she was the first female to hold that position in the industry.

In April 1990, the Bicycle Club was seized by federal authorities making federal government part owner of the most valuable asset ever seized at that time under federal racketeering laws.

The government appointed a trustee named Harry Richard to oversee operations at the Bike. Under the trusteeship, Phyllis fought to keep poker honest. As Phyllis says, “Mike ingrained the fact that all games should be honest.”

In 1995, Phyllis was hired as Casino Manager at Hollywood Park Casino and eventually became Director of Poker Operations where she continued making history.

Phyllis may be retired from poker now, but she will always stand for integrity in poker; she has committed her life to it.

Listen to me and Robert discussing Phyllis’ career on High Roller Radio here:


Pioneering Women in Poker: Phyllis Caro, Part 1 by Patricia Chavira


In the poker world, the name Caro represents integrity in poker. But before Phyllis Caro became the well-respected casino executive she is known as today, she worked her way up the ranks starting as a dealer.

She played 7-card stud in the 70’s at Caesars Palace. At the time, poker was a small community where everyone knew each other. She was going back and forth between Las Vegas and New York, where she is originally from.

While she was in Vegas in 1979, she had a neighbor who was a box man at the El Cortez, which just opened a poker room in Downtown Las Vegas. She was asked to shill for a few days, and so began Phyllis’ first foray into the poker business.

The next day the room had four tables, and they still needed help, so she sat in the box. The room was very successful from the beginning. Over the years, she dealt at the Las Vegas Club, Aladdin and Golden Nugget.

She was dealing at the Golden Nugget in 1982 when Bill Boyd replaced Pineapple with a new game called Nugget Hold’em. This game would become Omaha, which Robert Turner brought to Boyd.

Not only was Phyllis there at the start of Omaha, she would also meet someone at the Golden Nugget who would take her life in a new direction. That person was Mike Caro.

They married in 1983, and Phyllis quit dealing and helped Mike write books. During that time, Mike was invited to a seminar in Redding, California, where George Hardie was also in attendance.

He told them he was going to open the biggest poker room in California and asked Mike to be involved. Hardie wanted to run a clean, honest poker room, and the Caros were the perfect people to help him.

Before the Bicycle Club opened, Phyllis helped interview and audition dealers and set up the casino staffing. She was offered any job she wanted. She became dealer coordinator.

Hardie had a new vision for California gaming, and it was different from the rampant cheating that defined Gardena at the time. It was so bad, Mike said, “I didn’t know poker was a team sport.” They had their work cut out for them.

In Part 2, read about how Phyllis helped shape the future of poker in California.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.