Time to Protect Everyone at the Poker Table

I want to thank everyone for the great response to my last article about abuse in poker directed at women and dealers. You can read the first part here: Women in Poker, Part 1 This article will focus on solutions.

Bullying at the Table Has to Stop

Last week I played the H.O.R.S.E. event at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino. When we were down to two tables in the qualifier, I witnessed a serious incident of abuse at the table.

My friend Walter, a player in his 80’s, was verbally attacked by a younger player. He kept berating Walter to the point where he said something to the effect of, “When I finish with you, old man, you will walk out of here a cripple.”

Walter, a military veteran who I have played with for over forty years, would have definitely fired back in his younger days. Instead, Walter was very quiet and threw off his chips and was knocked out soon after.

Walter was being bullied because the player knew he could do it without consequences.

The abusive player stood up and began spewing f-bombs across the table and the room so loud it could not be missed. There were three women at the table–my wife, another female player and the dealer. This easily was some of the most atrocious behavior I have seen at the poker table, and believe me, I have seen fights break out, guns pulled and cards thrown in the face of dealers and floor staff.

I got up and asked the floor person, who was only four feet away, “How can you allow this to continue?” He said he did not hear it. I was totally let down. I decided to address it with Mo Faithipour, the Bike’s tournament director, the next day. Mo was very disturbed by the story and said it would never be tolerated.

Tournament Directors Can Lead the Change

Mo, Matt Savage, Commerce Casino’s tournament director, and Corey Silver, the tournament director at Hollywood Park Casino, are all working diligently on making Los Angeles a better place to play poker for all players.

I feel the best thing a player can do when they see something is to say something. Leave the table, find the tournament directors or supervisor, and alert them of the problem, so if they are called over to the table, they have a heads up. This will go along way to police our industry.

The tournament staff will appreciate it, and I hope this will provide anonymity for those who are trying to help. It’s time for the WSOP to set examples for other tournaments to follow. I remember two years ago a player at a WSOP event was so abusive, he stopped play at several tables next to his. He was yelling at the dealer, the other players and dropping f-bombs. He was out of control.

It took a minute to get not one but several floor staff over to address his behavior. I thought for sure he would be disqualified from the tournament, but he just got a warning. I thought, “Who is this guy that has so much clout that he just got a warning?”

It’s time for this behavior to stop. Let 2018 be the year that the WSOP sets the example for all other tournaments.

My son Jaden suggested using social media or texting to alert tournament staff of situations that are spiraling out of control. Jaden said that’s how millennials communicate, and it can be used to stamp out bad behavior and really elevate the game. I agree that would be a game changer. What about a tournament text line that’s monitored by management or even security?

It’s time for the TDA to address and establish guidelines not just on how to best play the game, which they have done a great job in doing, but it’s time to address conduct at the table.

Let’s get signage and conduct rules posted on casino and tournament websites along with the schedule of events.

There has always been talk of recognizing poker as a sport. Creating a uniform code of conduct for all tournaments will be the first major step. I don’t see how we can move forward without one.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player 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 robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Women in Poker, Part 1

I’ve seen many things at the poker table over the decades, and some I’m not proud of.

With fifty years of poker to reflect back on, I will say for sure we need to change the way we handle abuse at the table.

Today is the day for leadership, management and players to step up their game. In the old days, players got away with so much bad behavior, especially directed at women.

And I’m ashamed to admit it’s still going on today.

A Time to Change

Poker pro Shirley Rosario recounted the following. Her story is so powerful that I have included it in its entirety:
“Dealing with men at the poker table is just like dealing with men in my everyday life. Most of the time, there are no issues. Most men treat me with kindness and respect just as they would treat any other human being. Sometimes, I encounter assholes who aren’t treating me any worse than they are treating anyone else. Those types never bother me. But occasionally, I will encounter a man that says something to me he would NEVER dream of saying to a man, and those are the men I have the hardest time with.

I chose to play poker as a profession, and I understand that all of this comes with the territory, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it
SHOULD be. Nobody should have to put up with abuse at the poker table–or anywhere else for that matter. There have been plenty of occasions where a guy has said something so over the top that I have been near tears (I am pretty good about not letting them show how upset I am), and it has really affected my game.

I remember calling my best friend and poker mentor during the break of a WSOP event saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I just want to go home.” And I remember sitting with Carol Fuchs a couple days later telling her about it and her saying, “That’s how I’m feeling right now too.”

Did I go home? No. I’m too strong for that, but it did affect me for awhile. Even now, I’m upset recalling this incident.

The hardest part for me is having other men, generally nice men who I consider friends at the poker table, sit there and do or say nothing. That’s the most upsetting part. So if men want to make a difference, then I’m asking them to speak up at the table when it happens. Stop it right there in its tracks.

That brings me to one incident that happened at the LAPC recently. There was a guy who had pulled an angle at the poker table, and the floorman was called over. The floor asked the players what happened, and when one woman explained what was happening, the angle shooter started yelling at the woman and using profanity directed at her.

The floorman immediately leaned in towards the guy and looked directly at him and said, “Stop. Stop that right now. We don’t allow that type of behavior.” He shut that guy up real quick.

The floorman was Matt Savage, and I will forever be grateful to him for that even though I wasn’t the woman involved. I thanked him the next day and actually got choked up while thanking him. The thing is that showed me what a problem it is. In the 15 years I’ve been playing, I’ve thanked one man for standing up for us. That’s what I’m hoping changes.”

Shirley plays poker at its highest levels. If she can feel like this at a poker table, how many other women have suffered the same abuse, said nothing and walked away from the game forever?

This is a question everyone in the poker industry must ask. It’s time for us to wake up and make radical changes in how we treat our fellow players and our hardworking dealers at the table.

A New Era in Poker

Tournament Director Matt Savage sums it up best:

“The bottom line is if we want poker to grow, we need more women in the game. To do this women need to not only feel welcome and treated as equals, but also to be respected and not face the intimidation I have witnessed and also stopped in the past.

Poker is a game for everyone. It’s finally time for all the abuse to stop and create a friendly environment.”

Remember when you see something, say something. It’s that simple.

That’s the responsibility of everyone who sits down at a poker table.

In Part 2, I will share more stories from some of the best women players in our game. Please be part of this very important conversation by sharing your own experiences. Email me at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player 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 robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

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?

The Road to Glory: Preparing for the World Series of Poker by Patricia Chavira


It is that time of the year again when poker players all around the world are preparing to play on the biggest stage in the poker world—the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. The 46th Annual WSOP officially starts on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, but players have been preparing for months, if not years, for their shot at poker glory.

One such player is Harrison Ashdown, a 23-year-old professional poker player and personal trainer from England. He started playing home games when he was 17. He moved to the U.S. four years ago to become a personal trainer, but destiny had different plans for him.

Poker Player Harrison Ashdown

Poker Player Harrison Ashdown

He studied nutrition at Santa Monica College. He would bring his books to the poker table to study anatomy, but soon school wasn’t his main focus, and Ashdown made the decision to play poker professionally about ten months ago.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but his wife has been supportive of his choice. Ashdown has been honing his game at Hollywood Park Casino where he plays everything from large No-Limit games to mixed games and PLO.

His mentor and friend Bruce Levitt has been encouraging Ashdown in his poker career. Levitt suggests books to read, and they discuss hands. They met at the table about six months ago when Ashdown kept trying to bluff Levitt.

Ashdown is going to Las Vegas for the first time this summer to play in the WSOP. In addition to playing cash games, he intends to play No-Limit Hold’em tournaments, such as the $565 Colossus No-Limit Hold’em event and the $777 Lucky 7’s No-Limit Hold’em event.

Regarding his preparation, Ashdown says a month before the WSOP he will be eating a stricter diet since he feels much more energetic when consuming lower calories.

He will keep hitting the gym early in the morning, knowing he has to accomplish something before he has to play for long hours.

Ashdown says the WSOP is going to be “a great learning experience for me and hopefully I can adapt using what I will have learned for the following years’ WSOP.”

Another player who is preparing for the WSOP is Cyndy Violette. A native of Queens, New York, Violette’s family moved to Las Vegas when she was 12 years old. She was a blackjack and poker dealer at the Horseshoe.

Poker Player and Restaurant Owner Cyndy Violette

Poker Player and Restaurant Owner Cyndy Violette

She began playing poker on her pregnancy leave from her job, and she hasn’t looked back since.

With lifetime earnings of over $1 million and 35 cashes at the WSOP, Violette is one of the most respected poker players in the world. She was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2009.

If you see Violette on her iPod in a tournament, she isn’t playing Candy Crush; she is listening to positive words and meditations. Her preparation begins in the mind.

Violette says when she was doing the best at the WSOP, preparation was the key to her success. She would get up every morning and exercise, mediate and eat healthy vegan food.

She also stresses the importance of sunshine to recharge your energy field. Because players are sitting in a casino all day, it is imperative to get sun and some fresh air.

Violette has recently focused much of her energy running her restaurant Violette’s Vegan Organic Eatery and Juice Bar, which she describes as “healthy, hip and inspiring,” which can just as easily describe Violette herself.

Located at 8560 W. Desert Inn Road in Las Vegas, Violette’s Vegan features a variety of fresh organic vegan food, perfect for poker players looking to perform their best.

From Sunshine Sausage Melts for breakfast to BBQ “beef” sandwiches for lunch and daily Chef Mark’s specials for dinner, there is something for every palate on the menu.

The menu has recently been redone with Pamela Brunson’s favorite wild buffalo sticks renamed Brunson’s Choice. With All-In Quesadillas called Ante-Up Bandito and Texas Hold’em, Violette’s restaurant honors her poker roots.

In fact, Violette’s Vegan will have a special menu for the WSOP. Players will be able to text in their orders. Check the website violettesvegan.com for a special number and menu coming soon.

In Las Vegas where illusion often rules, Violette and her restaurant stand out as true originals.

Whether a novice like Ashdown or a veteran like Violette, any player who buys into the WSOP has a chance at poker immortality. That’s the beauty of it.

Billiards International Presents Tournament of Champions at Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Ga-young Kim

Ga-young Kim

You’ve watched them all on ESPN, now it’s your turn to see the Champions of Billiards performing live at Harrah’s Resort Southern California October 6 through October 9, 2014. Be a part of the ESPN filming and win fabulous prizes (must be present to win). Admission is free.

On Monday, October 6, 2014 at 7 p.m. come challenge the champions and share a rack with the world’s best and get some pointers, too.

Thorsten Hohmann

Thorsten Hohmann

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 3 p.m. come see Darren Appleton, Shane Van Boening, Thorsten Hohmann and Dennis Orcollo compete in the Men’s International Challenge of Champions for $25,000 in a 9-ball event.

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 3 p.m. the Women’s Tournament of Champions will feature Karen Corr, Allison Fisher, Kelly Fisher and Ga-young Kim compete for the $25,000 prize in a 9-ball event.

Come watch Florian “Venom” Kohler, Nick Nikolaidis, Andy Segal and Gabi Visoiu perform Trick Shot Magic on Thursday, October 9 at 2 p.m.

Andy Segal

Andy Segal

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the best of the best compete in this ESPN event. Free admission.  Must be 21 to attend.

Discounted rooms available. Call Harrah’s Resort Southern California at 888-242-7724.

For more information, contact Robert Turner at 562-922-9011 or robertturnerpoker@gmail.com.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards and casino marketing expert. Robert 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. 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 and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing group.

 Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.