As I have written about before, women are underrepresented both at the poker tables and on the casino floor, so when I meet a woman who has both played poker and worked in a casino, I know I am talking to a very rare person indeed, and that special woman is Ginger Lee.
Ginger ended up in a card room like many women do—she tagged along with a friend. When she was a college student, she was asked if she would like to go to the Bike. She said yes thinking she was going to a bicycle shop.
Much to her surprise, she ended up at the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, California, one of the largest card rooms in the world. Little did she know that fateful decision would change her life.
When she was a waitress at a sushi bar, a customer who worked at Commerce Casino convinced her to apply for a job at the card room. In 1990, she learned to deal and passed her auditioned. She began working as a dealer but realized that to be a better dealer, she had to learn how to play poker, so she began playing after work.
Working With Poker Legends
Ginger rose through the ranks being promoted to the tournament staff by her mentor Cheri Dokken, Commerce Casino’s tournament director for many years. She also had the privilege of working tournaments with legendary tournament directors Jack McClelland and Matt Savage.
Ginger began playing tournaments herself even meeting her future husband at the L.A. Poker Classic in 1992. She tells a funny story about registering another player for a tournament who never showed up. She didn’t want to be stuck for the buy-in, so she decided to play herself. It was her first No-Limit tournament. She ended up chopping it. Ginger is also a skilled 7-Card Stud player who has cashed in several stud tournaments.
In 2003, she dealt during the first season of the World Poker Tour to such poker luminaries as Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen. But the best part for her was working with her idol Linda Johnson, “The First Lady of Poker.”
After working at Commerce for 25 years, Ginger now works at Hollywood Park Casino as a shift manager with Director of Casino Operations Ramy Wahba. They worked together at Commerce for over 20 years.
Over her career, Ginger has learned that a casino’s success depends on customer service. As she says, “We are here because of the customer; we have to listen.”
With her passion for poker, you can be sure any casino that Ginger Lee works at is a place you want to play.
Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.