A few days ago while I was waiting for a tournament to start, Stan
Goldstein walked by the empty table in the tournament pavilion at
Commerce Casino where I was sitting and sipping a cup of coffee. He
joined me and I congratulated him on his victory in the L.A. Poker Classic
limit hold'em event the night before. That was his second win at the
tournament, as he also won the pot-limit hold'em event four days before
After we chatted for a few minutes, about seven or eight other guys
filtered in a few at a time and sat down. A bunch of different
conversations soon were going all at once. Stan got bored with the talk,
took out a Racing Form, and began looking at it, studying it,
handicapping with it, or doing whatever it is you do with one.
I casually asked Stan if he remembered way back to when every table in
Gardena had at least three or four people looking at a Racing Form. Stan
said that he sure did. Then we started talking about how so very few
guys seem to be real interested in horses anymore.
We reminisced about how someone back then would say that he had a
horse that was a sure winner. A group of us would then "pot out"about
$200 so that we could have something to root for a little later in the
afternoon. We knew that the tout who suggested the horse was getting
a kickback from a bookie, but no one cared.
That brought Stan and me to remembering the salesmen who came in
every day with their treasures. They would bring watches, rings, chains,
men's stuff, women's stuff, children's stuff, gold coins, and everything
and anything else. We prudent shoppers at the table would inspect the
stuff, pick something, and then pot out for the price that we had
negotiated to pay for the choice item.
Potting out meant that we would take about $20 from every pot until we
had set aside the $200 or $300 price. Then, on the next hand, the
person getting the high spade would win the treasure. As I look back on
it now, it was a lot of fun.
In those days, the players dealt their own cards. When the high-spade
pot was played, everyone paid extra close attention. We didn't really
think that anyone would arrange the deck, but we did always reshuffle
the deck and not just cut it, and we counted down the stub when the
hand was over. It was cautious good fun.
One time, we potted out for a car. A player from one of the lower-limit
games came over and told us a tale of great woe that had led to his
need to part with his car then and there. We sent one of our expert
fellow players out to the parking lot with this Gardena car guy to inspect
the car and let us know if the $500 that the guy had to have was fair,
almost fair, or even in the ball park.
A few minutes later, they came back and our expert swore that it was a
heck of a deal. We eight genius $15-$30 players, a high limit back then,
shrewdly demanded to see the title and have it signed over. We also
made him give us a receipt for the $500 that we potted out to pay for
I remember to this day catching the KS and just knowing that the car
was going to be mine. A guy named Bill, who is no longer alive, caught
the AS on the end and "won"the car. Better him than me, because he
had a bit of trouble when he showed up with his teenage son to register
the car. OK, the punch line, of course, is that it was a stolen car. Bill told
me that they looked at him very funnily as he spent the full day trying to
"help"the police find the real villain.
About 10 years later, around 1979, I was playing at the Normandie
Casino. I looked up and saw the Gardena car salesman sitting across
from me. I waited a few minutes and then asked this guy the burning
question: "Didn't you used to play at the Horseshoe in Gardena?"I was
interested to hear his answer, so that I could report back to the many
people whom I have told this story over the years. He anticlimactically
said that he used to, but not often, and that it was a long time ago.
I thought about what to do for the next half-hour until I had to leave. By
then, all thoughts of retribution were gone. I had watched him play, and
knew that he was destined to lose any money that he put on a poker
table. He played horribly. I knew that I was leaving him in good hands.
For what it's worth ...
Those Were the Days
By Vince Burgio