By now you’ve seen the headline: Vegas Poker Room Massacre! Looked at the pictures of the dead lying around the poker table. Read the story about the losing player who went berserk and killed two other players before being killed himself. The problem is the pictures weren’t worth a thousand words and no one got the story right. So I’m going to tell you the true story of the Drawing Dead Murders. It’s about a poker player we called The Little Guppy and why he was shot to death at the Midnight Game, the Majestic Casino’s Saturday Night $500-$1000 Limit Hold’em Game. Every detail of his death, and the investigation that followed, is exact. I should know. I’m the one who killed him.
In old-time wise-guy Vegas, whether you played your poker in a Glitter Gulch sawdust joint or a Strip carpet joint, there was always a Poker Goon watching. The Goons were oversized enforcers with saps in their pockets and guns in their waistbands whose job it was to deal out street justice. Cheat another player – the Goon would take you into the back alley. Steal from the poker room – the Goon would take you down to the basement. Pull out a gun in the poker room – the Goon would shoot you dead on the spot.
That Vegas is long gone. Street justice has been replaced by due process. The old-time poker joints have been replaced by modern up-scale poker rooms: The Bellagio. The Mirage. The Majestic. The Poker Goons have been replaced by Poker Cops. My name is Talbot. I’m Chief of Poker Room Security, the Poker Cop, at the Las Vegas Majestic Hotel & Casino. My job is to make sure that the Small Fish ($2-$4 Minnows, $3-$6 Guppies), who swim in, cash in hand, and the Big Fish ($30-$60 Sharks, $50-$100 Piranha) who swim out with most of that cash – minus the Room’s Rake – cause no trouble.
I don’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble knows where I live. The night I killed the Little Guppy, Joey Rosenberg, the Majestic’s Poker Room Manager, comes up to me looking real worried. Joey never looks worried. I ask, “What’s wrong?”
“Tally,” he tells me, “there’s a Little Guppy, strictly Cheap Seats, trespassing in the Holy Land and spooking the Midnight Game. He’s sitting there glaring, crazy-like, at the other players. He bought in for six racks of purple but he’s not looking at his cards or even playing the game, just paying the blinds and staring. It’s spooky. I want you there if he freaks out.”
Unlike the Cheap Seats, where the checks are blue and red, and the hold’em is friendly no-fold ’em, the Holy Land, the Majestic’s High Stakes ligaz11 Poker Platform, is where the checks are black and purple and the poker is deadly serious. The Midnight Game, named for its start time, is where the Majestic Poker Room holds its …