Sam Angel was a classic character of all time. I was first acquainted with Sam while working at the Dunes Hotel. Sam was a poker player and all around short card hustler in almost every game. He knew bar bets, propositions and stood there with the best of the bettors and handicappers. He was a winner of the World Series of Poker and some say a driver for Nick the Greek.
The Dunes Hotel had a very active poker room that offered the typical poker games, plus allowed anyone to get into a heads-up Gin, Call Rummy or Turnover game. Some real money quickly changed hands in this small but quaint poker hangout. Before my shift duty in the Baccarat, I always paid a visit to the poker room to see what was going on. Every major poker hustler in the world would hang out in the Dunes poker room. Sam practically lived there, except when offering his “unique” brand of men’s and women’s line of first class jewelry. You name it, he had it. What was unique to his “suitcase” style presentation, is that the Dunes management would let him put his trinkets on the back side counter of the main Cashier Cage, which was on the way to the Dunes exclusive restaurant, the Sultan’s Table. The “A” list of who’s who was the base of the clientele as well as every good casino customer at the Dunes.
Sam had no business license, no overhead, and no extra expenses. Prices were sometimes determined by the amount of gambling bankroll Sam Angel had in his pocket. If he needed cash, he adjusted the prices of items until a customer purchased it. All the dealers, floor persons, box men and everyone else at the Dunes always gave Sam their business, as they knew Sam was a bargain compared to a normal retail jewelry store.
Sam would always come by the Baccarat pit and hang out on the rail and entertain us. He would sometimes say something like this, “It is time to make a bet.” He would reach into his pocket and pull out a pocket watch the size of a wall clock. He would look at the time and then say, “Time for a big bet”. Then he would reach inside his coat pocket and bring out exact printed copies of U.S. currency in all denominations, except that the bills were 10 times the size of a regular bill. He would then walk over to the table and plop down one of these giant notes. He was funny and the dealers really liked him.
So this one evening it was rather slow and Sam decided he wanted to make a couple of “call” bets in the Baccarat. He yelled to the dealer from outside the pit, $100 on the bank. The hand was dealt and he lost. He yelled $500 on the bank, and lost again. He now come over and sits down at the table and wants to take $5,000 in credit against $50,000 he has on deposit at the casino cage. I authorized the transaction and he begins playing hard core. The hands are dealt. The bank side wins a few hands, the players side wins a couple of hands. Back and forth the money goes until Sam is really stuck. We are into his bankroll almost the whole $50,000, except that he has a single $500 chip in his hand, but he owes the house $500 in commission from betting on the bank. He looks up at me holding the chip, and looking at the $500 vig he owed. On occasion it is customary to lock up (eliminate) the vigorish if a player loses his money. So it let him bet his last $500 chip rather than paying the $500 with it..
Guess what? He won back the entire $50,000. I never heard the end of this from my bosses. More on Sam later.
From Wikipedia: At the 1973 World Series of Poker, Angel won the $1,000 buy-in WSOP Razz event, with its $32,000 prize and bracelet. In 1975, he won a second bracelet and $17,000 in the $1,000 buy-in Razz event.
Angel won a Razz event at the 1981 Super Bowl of Poker, organized by 1972 world champion Amarillo Slim. For this win, he received a prize of $57,000. He cashed in various other tournaments during his career, with tournament winnings over $180,000.
In the 1950s, Angel worked as a driver for Nick “The Greek” Dandalos and began playing poker during this time. He would sometimes sell jewelry to raise money for his poker bankroll. Despite his poker tournament success, Angel was primarily a cash game player during much of his poker career.