One day in 2002, I was checking out the Oaks Card Room in Emeryville, Ca. (Named after the Oakland Oaks of the old Pacific Coast baseball league) This is a unspectacular place in an even more unspectacular neighborhood. It’s a card club that’s open 24 hours and is characterized with a lot of sketchy derelicts , thugs, degenerate gamblers and damn-near homeless geezers throwing away their retirement funds. This is the type of place where employees have been mugged early in the morning by broke losers who are angry enough to pull a knife on you. At night, people have been shot by patrons who lost money and want more. Their unofficial slogan should be: Don’t walk in to play cards and end up going home with crabs!
The Oaks Card Room is the last place you would expect to see someone who played with the A’s from 77–83 and had acquired the nickname “Swingin’ Rage;” when in walks Mitchell Page. Most of the folks knew who he was, as they were all A’s fans. He eventually ended up playing stud poker at the table I was at. The dealer was a big fan of his, and when Paige sat down the dealer blurted out “Mitchell Page!” Page proceeded to win a big pot and busted some monstrous looking Hells Angel who left in a pissed off state. When Page racked in his chips he looked around at everyone at the table and said, “I don’t need the money.” I bought Page a 7 and 7, (this was before he checked into an alcohol treatment facility in 2004) and talked to him a bit about his days playing with the A’s and his beef with Charlie Finley. I had to leave, and after shaking his hand he gave me a bit of advice about the joint next time I came back:
“Dont try to beat the 1-2 – you have to get lucky to win. Almost every hand will go to the river and most of the table will stay in on their draws despite your raises and the probabilites of their hands hitting. Focus on 6-12 or 100 max for making money and 1-2 if you have time to kill. Good Luck and don’t play 2-7.” And with that, that was the first and last time I ever saw the man. R.I.P.