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Rant: Screw the 'English Only' Rule (and Wales is Not in England)

I arrive in Las Vegas on Sunday and that can mean only one thing: Repeated admonishments for not speaking English at the tables.

I struggle to fill in the "what race are you" section of a questionnaire but apart from looking like Bruce Lee I can only speak one language: English.

In fact I speak it rather well because I have been speaking it ever since I spoke my first word nearly four decades ago.

(As a side note I am reliably informed my first word was: "titty." Come on … being a baby is thirsty work).

English Only at the Poker Table?

Each year I travel to Vegas to play cards and the dealers threaten my friends and I for not speaking English.

On one particular occasion, in the card room at Bally’s, the dealer threatened to throw me out if I didn’t stop speaking in a foreign language.

“But I only speak English,” I told him.

“I am not kidding pal. I will call the floor,” said the dealer.


What language do you think I'm speaking?

“Seriously, I only speak English.”

“Right … I have had just about enough of you ... FLOOR!”

A rather serious looking man appeared from nowhere.

“Now, what seems to be the problem?” asked Mr. Seriousness.

“This young man in Seat 3 continues to speak to Seat 7 & 8 in an unusual language. I have told him repeatedly that it’s English only at the tables, but he just keeps ignoring me.” 

“Is this true?” Mr. Seriousness asks me.

“No. I have told him repeatedly that I only speak English,” I replied.

“Look I have to insist that you speak English.”

“But I am.” 

“I will ask you one more time, can you please speak English.”

“What language do you actually think I am speaking?”

“Right, that’s it, you have to leave.”

Anonymous Dealer

What's the big deal??

Let's Imagine I Was Speaking Another Language

If it wasn’t for the rest of the table explaining that I was speaking English but had a Welsh accent (a country that is not in England), then I would have been ejected there and then.

Now let’s imagine I was speaking in a different language? What’s the big deal?

I imagine the rule is enforced to stop collusion. Now how exactly am I supposed to do that?

Am I telling my friend what cards I have/had? Or what I would have/have not done in a certain spot?

I do that anyway. I just step away from the table and talk to my friends in English.

We talk about who the spots are at the table and offer our opinions on the best ways to extract money from them.

So what’s the difference?

Screw the "English Only" at the table rule. Just stop players from conversing in another language when the action is ongoing.

Wales is Not in England

I remember playing in a game in Swansea where the dealer was having a problem with a couple of Chinese players we had dubbed "The Crazy Eights."

Roberto Romanello

It's like England, but different.

They were a pair of crackpots who viewed poker as some sort of extension to Roulette. They were putting their money in with all sorts of trash and we were loving it.

But the dealer kept telling them to speak English.

Now I imagine it’s quite difficult for someone to remember not to speak a "foreign" tongue when talking to someone who also speaks the same language.

I guess it’s about as automated as taking a piss. So cut them some slack.

Instead, this dealer continued to berate them until they were on the verge of leaving.

At this point the players kindly pointed out that they could speak any damn language they wanted because they were feeding our children at this moment in time. Eventually the dealer kept his mouth shut.

And they wonder why nobody talks at the poker table anymore. I guess it’s because everybody is Welsh and nobody understands what the fuck they are saying. And no. Wales is not in England.

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