Heintz: from poker dealer to manager to Hall-of-Famer

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Reno’s Margie Heintz, manager of the Eldorado poker room, joined fellow inductees Phyllis Caro (see story Page 8) and Kristy Gazes in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame on Sept. 2 at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. Her most noted achievement in poker is being the first woman to deal in the World Series. I had a chance to ask her a few questions about her career.

How important is being in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame? It’s an honor to be one of the three that are being inducted and to be among the inductees from past years.

How surprised were you when you were selected for induction? I didn’t know I was going to be nominated so it was very surprising.

Where did you get your start in poker? I got my start in Billings, Mont. Poker became legalized there in 1975 and I turned 21 in January of that year. I became fascinated with poker and started playing a bit.

What was your first dealing job? A small club in Billings called Zivios. The action was very good for about a year and a half and then the state put a $100 cap on the pot size.

How did you get the job dealing the WSOP? I came to Las Vegas in 1976 and began to work for Bill Boyd at the Golden Nugget. Through that process I met Jack Strauss and dealt his tournament at the Marina, a casino on the strip. From there I met Cowboy Wolford and he recommended me to Benny Binion to deal the World Series of Poker.

Was it difficult being a female dealer back then? It was incredibly abusive. The players were horribly verbally abusive. This is probably why no female dealers even applied for the job back then. I am incredibly grateful to the (Tournament Directors Association) and to supervisors that enforce the rules of bad behavior nowadays.

What are some of the situations you had to deal with? In one hand of a seven-card-stud game a player refused to release his hand after losing the pot. After a few minutes I went to reach for the cards when he twisted my arm and took me down on the table. The floorman did nothing. In another high-stakes cash game a player used my face for the muck, throwing her discards at me. This induction is like a badge of honor to me for all the things I went through.

What brought you to Reno? I had a lot of culture shock going from Montana to Las Vegas and I thought the players in Reno would be easier to deal to.

How did you become the poker-room manager at Eldorado? I worked as a dealer at the MGM when it first opened. I also dealt at the Eldorado for a couple of years. After the Eldorado closed the poker room I went to work at the Peppermill for 10 years as a dealer and a supervisor. In 1998 the Eldorado reopened the poker room and I was asked to be the manager and have been so ever since.

— Cory Howard is Ante Up’s Ambassador for Reno. Email him at antupcory@gmail.com.