My next interview I did with my american colleague and World Series of Poker dealer of the year 2014 – Andy Tillman. Andy is known in the poker community for his legendary dealing of the World Series of Poker final tables. He really has been working very hard and made his poker career successful. Now, he is part of the most prestigious poker events in the world such as EPT, WSOP Europe or WSOP in Las Vegas. Read more about poker experience from a professional freelance poker dealer for whom work is a lifestyle and passion.
Hi Andy, let me briefly introduce you to my readers at first. Would you mind telling us something about yourself please?
I am originally from a farm near the small town of Bayard, Nebraska. Now I am married and living in Sweden with my wife Marie who happens to also be a poker person. I have been working in poker for 14 years. I have been traveling and working major poker events since 2008 and have had every job from chip runner to tournament director. I started out in casinos and in poker in a small gambling town in South Dakota called Deadwood. It was a very small town of around 1500 people and most of them worked in casinos in the town. So it has been a very long road to get to this point.
How did you get to poker dealer world? How was it for you at the beggining? Do you still remember it?
Basically, I was hired as a poker dealer after going to the casino and playing pretty much every weekend and a few times during the week during university. They had a few openings for dealers and asked me if I wanted the job. That was the start of my dealing career. At the beginning it was tough for me since I had never had a job let alone even considered what it would take to learn how to deal, but luckily for me it was just as poker began to boom and became huge in the USA. So in no time at all it was busy and I was learning extreamely fast.
I know you have plenty of profesional experience from around the world as a freelance dealer, floorman and poker manager. Is there a place where you haven´t dealt the cards yet? And where did you absolutely love it the most?
I have dealt and floored in many places in the USA, Europe, the Caribbean and western Asia. I haven´t worked at all in Africa and China or Australia. I would be very interested in new places because that is the part of what i enjoy with this career, the opportunity to see things i never thought I would see. I have always enjoyed working the WSOP in Las Vegas since my first summer there in 2008, but probably my favorite places to work at have been Monaco, Prague, and Dublin. Berlin also has quickly become my favorite place to visit and work. The events are always great for staff and playes and the city is just amazing to me.
(note: Andy´s first international poker event in Europe was WPT Bratislava in 2009)
Do you remember any special poker event or specific tournament where you worked at and it has become unforgettable to you from some reason? Which one was it and why?
The event that has become unforgettable to me is one that still happens yearly and now it has been in Dublin for 5 years. That would be the Norwegian Poker Championships. Just the relationships that have been built since the first one i went to in Riga, Latvia to the years it has been in Dublin has made it so great to see the players that you meet every year come back and play and get to have fun with them and it´s like a big reunioun. Working the event is also great since they bring a great atmosphere. They are just there having a good time and enjoying the event.
(note: Dealer can have a shots at the table and players can order drinks for dealers. So it can be very interesting and cheering at the end of the shift. Poker Festival breaks records every year with the number of cash game tables, the actual record is 65 live tables.)
In general, how would you compare poker&poker players here in Europe with American style of playing cards!? Can you see any differences here? If yes what is it?
I would say that there is a huge difference in the play between the USA and here in Europe. The Americans tend to be more conservative in their play and also they don´t play as well overall as the europeans do. There is a huge gap in the USA between the average player and the players that play poker for a living. When the USA shut down online gambling it has created an experience gap and caused a huge number of player to stop playing or to not play as much, where with the european players they have still had the opportunity to play more and play a more aggressive game which seems to make them much better players on average.
Surely you must have a plenty funny stories that happened at poker tables. Can you give away one funny story?
I was working a WSOP event in New Orleans. It was an extremely busy event and the previous night a few of the staff and players went out to a big concert in town and came into the event the next day. Some of them still not sober from the night before. One of the dealers came back into work and couldn´t go home because we needed them that day. So this dealer is sitting there doing this long push with a garbage bag sticking out of his back pocket trying not to get sick while dealing. It seems that he runs into someone that was out with them the night before at every table. It was just funny to watch how this goes on for a few hours until he ends up starting to yell: “flooooor!!!” and as the floor walks and it´s not the dealer who was getting sick! It is one of the players from the night before. Dealer happens to still have the bag with them and just stands up and hands it to the player who goes running off with the bag to get sick! Just to make his day worse, he is blinded off in the tournament while he is trying to feel better. He certainly will not forget this experience so soon!
And last „Lucky 7“ question. Can you tell us advantages vs.disadvantages of being poker freelance dealer? Would you mind giving us a short review from your point of you?
The advantages of being a freelance dealer are that you don´t have to go through the 9-5 hours grind of a regualr job. You get to make youre own schedule and have the freedom to do what you want between events. Also with being a freelancer you get to travel and experience different place and work there. It gives you an opportunities to see new thing and places one would never dream of seeing or could ever imagine one would see and with the traveling the people you travel and work with become like family to you! So it is a great life experience that isn´t available to everyone.
There are also disadvantages though. You spend a lot of time away from home and real family. Also it is harder to have normal things like trying to buy a house and keep normal relationships going where you live because you are home and away so often that fitting into normal everyday life is very difficult with the freelance lifestyle.
Andy, thank you for great interview YOU STAR! 🙂