A Life In The Game - Linda Geenen and PokerWorks
Everyone knows the legends of the game of poker. It isn't often noticed, however, those people who have seen the game from the other side of the table and have added to the game as well. Someone who has a great background, and has the stories to match, is Las Vegas dealer and poker player Linda Geenen, who also runs the online poker website PokerWorks.com, when she has the time to spare!
"I started dealing and playing in 1980," commented Linda, who currently deals at one of the finest poker rooms in Las Vegas at the Bellagio, as we settled into an e-mail conversation about her career in the game. "Back then, there were no dealer schools you went to. You basically sat down in the box, after someone showed you how to pick up the deck, and started dealing. That's pretty much the way it went for me. I learned everything I know about poker from being involved in the game as a player and a dealer."
It is obvious that Linda has an excellent background through her website, PokerWorks.com. There you will find some excellent strategy tips as well as one of the most thorough looks at what is going on in the online poker world, with daily listings for tournaments the various online poker rooms are offering. I learned more about Linda's thoughts on the game, what PokerWorks is attempting to do and her thoughts on the state of the game today and the future of poker.
PN: How is it to work in probably the finest poker room in Las Vegas?
LG: I've worked major tournaments over the years, and in other card rooms, and the Bellagio is the ultimate experience as a dealer and a player (I do both). We deal with and to all the 'name' players that are seen on TV every week, movie stars, and a rush of new players coming into the poker environment. The room has recently been remodeled and is one of the most beautiful rooms in the world. Bellagio also offers all games and limits along with a daily tournament and hosts three major tournaments a year.
PN: What are some of your greatest memories of working as a dealer in Las Vegas?
LG: I've dealt to all the people you read about in all the books and magazines and see on TV. That would include Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar. The list is a mile long. I am the dealer in Howard Lederer's first instructional videos, Secrets of No Limit Hold 'Em, and I've dealt the last two Ultimate Bet Aruba tournaments and am one of the dealers in the 2003 WPT event. In September and October, I'll be returning to Aruba to deal the event again.
I have a million stories and a million or more memories that wrap into the game of poker. I write a blog, Table Tango, those are the pages that have the answers.
PN: What have you seen as the best and worst things about the current poker explosion?
LG: The best part is the influx of new players. The worst part, in my opinion, is there are too many tournaments. Too much money goes into a tournament pool to be disbursed to a few and live action eventually suffers.
PN: As a dealer in Las Vegas, what is the thing you see the less skilled players do the most?
LG: New players will play too many hands, check and call versus being the aggressor, play hands out of position, and chase with bottom pair when the pot and action doesn't merit the call. In some extremes, they will ridicule the player that beat them in a hand - that is a huge taboo.
PN: What are some of the things that a first timer to a live poker room should remember?
LG: If they don't understand something, ask the dealer. Wait until it's their turn to act before making a move. If they call a bet on the last card or check, make sure they turn their cards face up in front of them so the dealer can read their hand. It's easy to misread your hand when your new and nervous! Also, never talk about the hand when it's in progress. But above all, enjoy your playing experience. Have fun with the game!
PN: Do you have the opportunity to play much yourself?
LG: I do play, both live and online. Hold 'Em is my game of choice and I prefer limit in 'live' play. For tournaments, I prefer no limit and hope to compete in some of the major tournaments in the coming year. I do play Seven Card Stud and Omaha Eight or Better, but Hold 'Em is my game of choice.
I've never had the desire to play for a living. It takes the heart out of a lot of people, not to mention their bankroll, and I didn't want to give up my sense of humor and spontaneity to become a 'grinder'.
I like dealing. I move through all the limits and meet all the people. Some of those experiences have left a bad taste in my mouth but I understand how brutal the game is and, unless a player is specifically trying to punish me for dealing, I let the majority of it go over my head. Most players that have an outburst at the table aren't mad at "Linda", they are upset with the 'dealer'. I learned the difference a long time ago.
PN: How did you come up with the idea for PokerWorks?
LG: I started a website for my son's tattoo business in 1997. One day, the light bulb flashed on and I locked up the domain name PokerWorks. I set up the website, a mom and pop type of thing, and gradually kept upgrading as time permitted. The biggest draw to my site for a number of years was my blog - lots of changes since those days!
I started writing the blog because I wanted to vent and because I wanted the world to know what the real world of poker was like. It's one thing to watch someone on TV and see them at their best behavior, it's another thing to face off at a table with them day after day and see the flavor of their personality when things aren't going well for them. If you're a great player, you have to take losing with winning - it happens to everyone. Blaming it on a dealer is totally ridiculous.
PN: How long have you had PokerWorks up and going?
LG: I registered the domain name in April of '99. Somewhere shortly after this time period is when I put up the first pages.
PN: PokerWorks.com is a very well done site. What would you say are your goals with the site?
LG: I want to incorporate an active forum/discussion board into the site and add more informative articles by different authors with a varied point of view, and improve the overall feel and ease of the site. This will be an ongoing project. We would like to make the pro and beginner's approach to poker an easy transition by providing online news, information and links to new and established sites.
PN: The online game is well represented on PokerWorks. How difficult is it to keep up with all the online rooms there are and the tournaments that they offer?
LG: There are a lot of people working on PokerWorks, otherwise it would be an impossible task. There's so much going on with poker and the Internet that it takes a team to stay abreast of present and new developments.
PN: The strategy section of the website is very intriguing. How do you suggest that someone take strategy articles and apply them to their own games?
LG: There are a lot of books and information available to the player now but some of them are too complex and don't cover the basic day to day of poker. The strategy articles on PokerWorks break down the art of the game and put it in a perspective that anyone can understand and utilize.
PN: What is the most difficult thing about keeping Pokerworks fresh?
LG: It has to be content. It takes the entire team to work 24/7 on new ideas and information, and we are. It's just the beginning for PokerWorks!
PN: How would you like to expand PokerWorks?
LG: It's always going to be a work in progress because we want to be the first place that someone visits when they are looking for poker information, tournaments both online and live, and news.
PN: For someone who wants to work in Las Vegas, what do you suggest to them?
LG: Customer service is the key. No matter what job you hold, you have to be able to work with the public and do your job well.
PN: What do you see, as someone who is involved with poker on a daily basis, as the future of the game?
LG: Poker is going to go through a huge upswing for the next five to ten years and then may start to plateau. It's caught the attention of the world and anyone and everyone can play...and trust me, they are!
I want to thank Linda for a few moments of her precious time in doing this interview. I can just imagine that running PokerWorks and dealing in one of the most beautiful poker rooms in the world must not leave much time for little details like sleep and eating! Be sure to check out PokerWorks.com to get some of her observations on life in the poker world and other great parts of the online poker world!
Ed note: Party Poker have multiple tables available at every limit, 24 hours a day.