Mar 3, 2020
By Sean Chaffin
Being a great dealer combines a bit of skill and art. Obviously, a dealer must keep the game moving with nimble hands, quick shuffles, and precise pitches across the table. A great dealer is decisive and fair with players and provides a square game for all involved. It can be an underappreciated role in poker and Claude Codru has plenty of experience “in the box.”
The 33-year-old native of Romania now calls the L.A. area home, but got his start dealing cards in 2011 at the Seminole Hard Rock and Orange Park. Not only did Codru work as a dealer, but pitched cards during the first WPT event using the Action Clock, the Season XIV WPT Tournament of Champions.
Codru also traveled as a dealer to major events like the World Series of Poker and dealt the first Big One for One Drop. That event was won by two-time WPT Champions Club Antonio Esfandiari. Dealing allowed him a regular paycheck as he worked on his game and his funds for hitting the tables.
“I played poker and was living in Jacksonville,” he says. “That was the first time I played poker in a casino. I decided to build a bankroll by dealing.”
As a tournament player, Codru has a bit more than $69,000 in live tournament winnings. While still lacking a breakout performance, he min-cashed the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2019. This marks the third straight year he’s played the LAPC and seems to be having better results as play moved into the later stretch of Day 3.
“The first time I busted in the first hand that I played,” he says. “The second time, I just fell short at the end of Day 1. It was the last hand of the day. This year I’ve just been really focused and motivated. I do a lot of meditation and focusing really hard on what I want to do and how I approach the game.”
In fact, Codru burst the bubble when he eliminated Jordan Cristos. After the third break in the day he was among the chip leaders and was all smiles as he added his first LAPC cash.
Several recognizable players have moved from dealer to proker pro. Mike Matusow, Scotty Nguyen, and Layne Flack all worked pitching cards at some point. Codru has now left dealing behind and plays poker for a living. However, he also does some club DJ work and also some videography. Some of his music can be found on Instagram and Soundcloud.
“It’s fun, I like to follow my passions,” he said. “Music has always been one of my passions since I was back in Romania.”
When not playing cards, he’s enjoyed traveling the world over the last few years – combining a love of adventure with humanitarianism. Some of his recent travels have included Nepal, Bali, and Dubai. If he can notch a big finish, Codru soon may have even more funds for traveling.
“Today’s been going fantastic,” he says. “It’s been a really ride so far, hovering around 100 big blinds the whole day.”
What would it mean if that breakthrough tournament was the one he struck out in such unglamorous fashion the last two years?
“It would be life-changing,” he says. “It’s been a dream of mine for a long time, since the time that I was dealing tournaments and so many final tables.”
What happens if his poker bankroll ever gets too low? It’s almost a rite of passage among poker players to deal with going broke. Would he ever fall back on his dealing skills if times get lean? He says with a big laugh: “That’s not going to happen.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.