Dennis McCollum started dealing cards 28 years ago in New York. It was 1981 and McCollum, from Ogden, Utah, found himself dealing in underground games. "I loved it," he said. "When I came to Nevada I said 'that's the job for me.'
Day 4 of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event was a special day for McCollum. Before cards got in the air Tournament Director Jack Effel announced that he was the recipient of the Dealer of the Year award. McCollum had made it through the 2009 WSOP without the floor being called to his table at all.
He attributes that success to always staying focused and paying attention to the table.
For a job well done McCollum will receive a matted photo of himself dealing and a Corum watch, the maker of the WSOP gold bracelets. "I had no idea those were so expensive," he said with a laugh.
McCollum got his start as a professional dealer in Reno, Nevada, where he still resides. Unlike dealers today he did not attend special training courses to prepare him for the job. "I learned on the job," he said.
McCollum dealt his first WSOP in 1989 and said things are much better for the dealers now. "It wasn't as easy in those days, they don't let them abuse us like they used to." He stopped short of calling out any players for being abusive to dealers but did admit that 1973 Main Event winner Puggy Pearson was a tough one to deal to.
In his career McCollum has dealt to everyone from the late three time Main Event champion Stu Ungar to living legends like Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey.
McCollum may have been able to make it through the WSOP with no mistakes but he admits he has made some blunders in the past.
"One time in Reno at Harrah's, the poker room manager's father was in the game and he put $100 cash in the pot. We play it on the piece, I put chips on top of the hundred to show how much he owed out of the hundred. Somewhere along the line he had burned up that hundred, he won the pot but when I pushed it to him he said 'there is not enough money in this pot.' Now keep in mind this is the bosses dad and he said 'check the rack.' I said 'I didn't go to the rack,' but I guess I had. That hundred was supposed to go into the pot but when he had used it up I took it out of the pot and put it in the rack for some reason. So the bosses father caught me making a pretty big mistake."
Next year McCollum would like to move from the table to the floor and be a supervisor for "One of the greatest tournament directors in the world, Jack Effel. I've put in my request for next year, we'll see what happens," he said.