APPT Manila Sidelights: Lovely Dealers and Their Stories

City of Dreams Manila
By KomishAirms

Poker is still a male dominated sport, even if many women have made inroads over the past few years. The irony of it all is that most tournament poker dealers in this side of the world belong to the distaff side and dealers are the first line of officiating, hence their decision at the table is binding. It must bring out much machismo for a man to be put in his place by a woman in front of other men. In most societies, it may make men feel put down, but not in poker—at least most of the time.

In the ongoing Pokerstars Live APPT Manila here at City of Dreams, somuchpoker.com caught up with two particular dealers who have been turning heads while turning cards.

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Ann Jomar started to work as dealer 5 years ago

Meet Princess Ann Jomar, 23, a native of Tarlac province and Bien Malabanan, 32 of Sto. Tomas, Batangas in the Philippines. “I actually started dealing when I was eighteen,” Princess says, in the vernacular. “I had just dropped out of college and was looking for a source of income. A friend brought me to a card room and I began training. In a few months, I got the job.” Princess had ambitions of being a flight attendant at the onset. Her looks and physique would have many mistake her for one. “There have been quite a number of players who have asked me out, but I prefer to keep things professional,” she says, listing the APT and now the APPT as part of her international résumé. “I love dealing because I get to use my mind a lot and meet a lot of interesting people.

Princess used to deal at the Wild Aces Poker Club in Pampanga but has chosen to be freelance since this year. She does, however, have a few stories of her most memorable albeit unpleasant encounters at the table. “You know how it goes in Pampanga,” she says. “It’s a night life place and a lot of the patrons come in quite intoxicated. I’ve been in the middle of a few fist fights and I’ve also been the target of some amorous advances. Luckily for me our Floor Manager gets to keep things in order, but those were scary incidents. “That’s why I embrace dealing in international events because everyone is so professional; from players to the people I work with.”

For Bien, poker has been a lifestyle for quite some time now.I started out as a casual player and started becoming more serious eventually,” she says, in the vernacular. “I first became a dealer in a small poker room in 2008.” Not very many people know that Bien is actually the wife of local grinder Almond Cabral, who was a member of the Philippine team during last year’s WPT National Philippines Nations Challenge that finished third behind Japan and eventual champions Malaysia. “Most people know that Almond and I are together since we both began playing at the old Airport Casino Filipino (ACF),” Bien explains. “I stopped playing and became the manager of a bigger card room in Manila but gravitated to dealing not long after.”

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Bien is actually the wife of local grinder Almond Cabral

Bien says being a professional player may have been more lucrative, but it became too much of a chore considering she also had a family to help look after. At least with being a dealer, the income is guaranteed and I don’t have to be thinking and stressing myself too much,” she says. “I also get to meet a lot of interesting people as well.

They may have come from diverse backgrounds and entered the poker world via different avenues but Princess and Bien have brought to the events they have been involved with a breath of fresh air to break the monotony of the grind and to infuse a smile or two to relieve some tension during the gruelling hours of play. And while there are a multitude of dealers who may be in the field today, Princess and Bien seamlessly blend beauty with brains and successfully police the tables—especially during life changing tournaments such as the APPT. So maybe one day you, too, can have the opportunity to meet one of these lovely dealers in the circuit—and many more just like them.

They are more than just pretty faces. In poker, they are the law.

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