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: https://youtu.be/bmhuFvCUw38