My name is Gregory James Cardoza but cool people call me Goyo or Goyito. My grandfather used to call me that. He didnt talk that much. Neither did I before I met my wife, but that’s for another blog.
This blog is about all of the crazy fucking things I have seen propping poker during the graveyard shift at the Western Casino in glorious Clovis California.
Sunday night one of our regular patrons came up to me – not having seen him for a few months I asked how he was, “Oh very bad, I am this close,” he pinched his thumb and finger together inches from my eye. “This close to die! Like a hair!” “Jesus, what happened?” I was interested. I would have loved to sit and hear all about his heart attack but the whip was cracked, Tino was eyeballing me to sit down at the closest Omaha game. I looked Armand in the eye, winced and whispered, “Tino.” “No, brother go to work,” he grabbed my shoulder and raised an eyebrow, “Watch him.”
Working in a card room you meet a lot of interesting people and you have daily opportunities to make really bad choices – such as making uncollateralized loans to people who enjoy gambling. Praise to the poker gods the Western saw fit to include a strict but rarely adhered to policy against loaning money to patrons. Probably a good thing since they found one of Lucky Garden’s patrons, a wonderful 76 year old Chinese lady, executed by someone she owed a lot of money to. She would chase and slay the dragon at the Baccarat table and after her husband passed, the inheritance earned her quite the reputation as a big player. It wasn’t long before dangerous people with handy cash started lending her money. First the loans were just to keep her in action until the bank opened, then until she sold a car, then a house. Then they found her wrapped up tight in a nice package in what was probably her own Louis Vuitton suitcase, floating in the San Francisco bay. Once they know you won’t pay, they kill you, publicly – makes it more likely the next degen will pay. Anyway, Armand was working towards asking me for $20 and Tino, whether he knew it or not, gave me an easy out.
I don’t borrow money and I don’t lend money at the casino, and 95% of the time I don’t do it in the real world either. #1, I got kids. #2, In most situations money is not the fix, and until they understand that, they will always be in need of a loan. There is a difference between an emergency need, a spending deficit and a lifestyle or psychological leak. Money will only fix the first. If it truly is an emergency and I can afford to give it then that’s what I do, if I feel like it. If I can’t afford to give it, I don’t ever entertain lending it, hoping I get it back. This is cut and dry.
Especially not now – I need money to work. I don’t need a lot because I am good. The games I prop require buy ins of $40 to $100. My poker coach Tommy Angelo asked me one day what my poker bankroll was. I told him $35 and he laughed and said, “Seriously, what is it, that’s not a bankroll.” “Seriously, I know, but I’m gonna go drive Lyft and get that up to $40 so I can go clock in at the casino.” $100 will get me into any game IF I am needed and there is a good chance I’ll pick a spot to get my money in good. I might work for a month off of that $100 or I might bust out five minutes after clocking in, but really there is no choice. There is no other job in Fresno or Clovis for me. Production work never came back after the housing bubble, so this $24/hr job is probably the best I can hope for. Amazon is hiring for $12/hr. Driving Lyft averages $10/hr unless you have a new car. Besides, I like working here. You get to hang out, shoot the shit and people really don’t bother you if you don’t let them. I have a thick skin, I like it when they try.
So here I am, broke again. I’m married. Our marriage therapist Grechen asked in our last session what my plan was to get out of the hole, what I was going to do different to put food on the table. Before I could finish my sentence she chimed in with, “So more of the same?” I’m looking over at my wife Monica, seething. I laughed a little which really pissed them off. I always laugh when they fuck themselves out of a nugget of truth I would have shared. “So you think this is funny?” I do have an excellent poker face, “Not at all.” What I was going to say, but was interrupted, I fucking hate being interrupted. What I was going to say to Grechen and my wife Monica was that I was working on plans to rob the casino.