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Shirley Rosario
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by Shirley Rosario


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Poker Prop Player**I wrote the following article while I was working as a prop player at the Bicycle Casino. I worked as a prop for two years.**

One of the questions I get asked most is: What is a prop player? Considering the recent boom in poker, it makes sense that many people are not aware of what this job entails. It just so happens that "prop player" is my job title at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

A prop player gets paid an hourly rate to help start games or to help keep them going. Depending on the time of day, a prop player can work anywhere from one to twenty games. If I work in the morning, I often start games and am required to leave one seat open for new players. Once a player fills in that seat, the prop needs to get up at their blind. There are sometimes as many as four props in a game in the early morning because the customers aren't there. We exit one at a time depending on the position of the blind and slowly leave the game with no props in them. At the Bicycle Casino we are fortunate that we can sit and stay in the $6-12 Holdem games as long as there is only one prop in the game and we are not needed elsewhere. Although we get paid an hourly rate, the money we use to play is our own. We can win or lose hundreds on any given day.

Like any job, being a prop player has advantages and disadvantages. I have improved my overall game tremendously, especially in Limit Holdem. I get paid to do what I love, play poker. I also meet new people and have built a lot of strong friendships with people who have poker in common. The disadvantage of being a prop is being moved from a game that you would love to stay in. Sometimes, I am in a game that is full of action and I know if I am able to sit in the game long enough, I will make money. If a poker table is in danger of breaking, I am asked to move from that "great" game to sit in and save another one. Another thing I don't like is when a player doesn't want to play with me because I happen to be a prop. The chips I lose or win are just as valuable as any other players. Of course there are times when a player might not want to sit with me, but it should be based on my skill on that particular game, not based on if I am paid by the house or not. If a player sees me in an Omaha game, they might want to run for the hills. If I am sitting on a Crazy Pineapple game, they should run to any open seat they can.

Poker PropsMany props work a full forty hour week, but I only work thirty-two (by choice). Any prop should have a basic knowledge of all games and should work at improving their game at all times. As stated previously, there are days when we can win or lose several hundred. The basic idea is to remember that poker is a never-ending session and the bad days are inevitable. I have to consistently work at letting the losses just roll of my back. The wins are just another day away.

Online poker props have the same sort of job. They are paid to play in games where the house wants them to play. And like casino props they have to be able to handle being moved from juicy games to terrible ones. The only key difference is that casino props are paid by the hour, while online props can be paid a variety ways, like by the hand. Also some online cardrooms let players be "temporary props" where they will offer players a bonus to join a specific game for a minimum number of hands.

Being paid to play poker is great, but not for everyone. Players who hate to quit games when they are losers don't make good props. Players who really hate having losing days should never consider being a prop, because the #1 rule of being a prop is: go home when your shift ends. Tomorrow is another day.

A prop is not a shill.