About ten years ago, Brandon Daigle was enjoying a supremely good run of cards in 3/6 limit hold ’em game. Hour after hour, hand after hand, he couldn’t lose. By the end of the night he’d booked a $600 win. He envisioned an easy life in which, strolling into the casino every day, he printed money as a professional poker player.
Things didn’t work out quite that way. When his poker profits disappeared in the bigger, more volatile no-limit games, Brandon needed other options. So he turned to the dark side of the felt (or is it the light side?) and became a dealer at the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana. He currently deals poker at Harrah’s New Orleans. Our recent conversation touches on Brandon’s path into dealing, his favorite tipping stories, and his plans for the future.
Ben Saxton: Where are you from originally?
Brandon Daigle: Chalmette [Louisiana]. I was there for about eighteen years, until [Hurricane] Katrina. After all that nonsense happened, I went to Southeastern [University], which is really where the poker began for me. Growing up, I was really sheltered. I had overprotective parents, which was good ’cause it kept me out of trouble. But when I got to college, it was game on.
That’s how it goes sometimes. I had pretty protective parents, too.
Which is great.
It is. As long as you don’t go too hard when you go away to school.
Oh, I did. You have to experience life’s cherry, if you know what I mean. I did that for two years, and then I had a bad situation with roommates. One of ’em up and left, and I couldn’t afford fifteen hundred a month for rent. So I came to New Orleans and a talked to a buddy of mine who went to the Crescent City Gaming School. He told me that, in this business, you can make decent money. So I said: Sign me up. Let’s make it happen.
Did you initially want to play or deal?
Oh, I wanted to play. I thought I was great. Certain times you always think you’re great — until you get your teeth kicked in by a two-outer.
Yeah. We all like to think we’re better than we are.
I came to Harrah’s in 2008. My first night in here — right on table thirteen, I’ll never forget it — I won six hundred dollars playing 3/6 [limit hold ‘em]. And I thought: This is me! This is the easiest thing ever, I can do this every day — and I tried to. That six hundred quickly went away.
At no-limit. I’m not a limit player, I think it’s stupid — although I understand that some people don’t want to spend or call a bunch of money at one time. Higher limits are good. If I could play that 15/30 [Limit] Omaha Hi game the rest of my life, I would. I love the extra gamble.
Do you like dealing that game?
I love dealing anything Omaha. To be honest with you, man, I love dealing in general. Out there, in the pits, the only thing I wasn’t great at was dice, and that’s because I didn’t deal it for long. I love dealing baccarat. It’s a slower game, big money. I love the edginess of dealing: you’re always going, going, going. It’s not a desk-sitting job, where you’re gonna get bored.
What tables do you enjoy dealing to the most?
The 15/30 Omaha. We make the most money in that game. The higher the stakes, the less money we make. I’ll tell you my worst tipping story. I came in on day shift, and there was only one overnight 2/5 going on with four really deep stacks. I dealt a $35,000 pot: Ace-jack versus pocket fives — the flop came out jack, jack, five. The winner jumped out of his chair and started freaking out, and I thought to myself: “Here we go!” First hand went by, nothing happens. He’s still stacking his chips. Second hand went by, nothing. Third hand went by — which the guy won — and he asked me, “Did I get you on that last one?” Whenever someone asks me that, I never say no. I always say, “I don’t remember.” He said, “Here you go,” and threw me a dollar. A dollar tip for a $35,000 pot.
Do you have any good tipping stories?
I have some great tipping stories. You know Roberto? Short, looks like he’s Filipino, but he’s really Spanish? He’s the best tipper in this poker room. One time he hit a gutterball straight on the river and won a six hundred dollar pot. That was the last hand before I was tapped to go home, and he told me, “Hold on!” He stacked up a bunch of red chips and slid me one-fifty. I told him that was too much money, and he said, “If all these people blame you for losing, then I gotta say you’re the reason I won!” And I was like: “You know what? You’re right!”
The biggest tip I ever got was from a guy who plays a lot of PLO. He was in a really loose and aggressive game and flopped bottom two — which is not a very good hand in Omaha — and ended up hitting a full house on the river. He looked at me and said, “You love me?” And I said, “Shit, yeah, I love you!” He tossed me two-fifty.
I got another $200 tip when a guy asked me what ten percent of the pot was. It was about a $2,200 pot, so I told him $220. He was just holding up two black chips, and he said, “So two hundred is ten percent.” And I told him no, because the pot was over two thousand. I didn’t understanding what he was telling me. Then he said again, holding up those two black chips, “I’m trying to ask you if this is ten percent.” And I said, “Oh yeah yeah yeah, that’s ten percent,” and he laughed and said, “Here you go.”
I only have three of those stories in five years. I can’t count the number I’ve times I’ve gotten a goose egg on a five grand pot or more. But the potential for tips keeps us motivated. Say you’ve got a Roberto and a few other generous players at the table — it makes you deal faster. If you pump out twenty hands instead of sixteen, you’ve got four more chances to hit somebody for a big pot.
What can players do to make your life easier as a dealer?
Nothing, really, ’cause I enjoy some of the back-and-forth. Some people just need to vent. There’s certain customers that come in here because they know I’m gonna respond — very quickly. Like Tiny, for instance. He’s a great guy, but he’s literally and figuratively the biggest cry-baby in the room.
What are your plans for the future? Do you want to play more than you currently do?
No, no. I don’t have the bankroll for it, and I think that’s 90% of the game. You have to be able to handle the swings. Some people like to say that they don’t lose all that much, and that’s a bunch of bullshit. I’ve seen the best players in this room come in here and get their asses kicked by people who don’t know what they’re doing.
Physically, every person could be a dealer. But whenever you’re interacting with people and their money, they need someone to blame.
And you guys are the easy target.
We’re number one. I’ve seen bartenders get blamed for people sticking their money in those video poker machines. Overall, dealing is a great job, it pays the bills, and the best part is I don’t have to take my work home with me. Once I clock out, I don’t have to worry about anything that happens here until I come back.
Originally published in the May 2018 issue of Two Plus Two Magazine