Just got back from a great weekend in Las Vegas, happy to say that I returned with more money than I brought. Nonetheless, I have to share two stories about events that bothered me.

While there, I went to The Mirage for a poker tournament, and wandered over to the area where they display Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers in their “habitat.” I’d never seen it before, and wasn’t aware that they had done such a good job recreating a tiger’s natural habitat — all concrete with Greek columns and a giant fountain.

One of the beasts was wandering around inside while several hundred people gawked at it through the display window, pointing, taking pictures, etc. The first thing that struck me was how big a white tiger is. I’ve seen tigers at the zoo and in a circus or two, but those are safe and secure situations, so I never thought too much about their sheer bulk. Looking at this one, it was easy to imagine how much damage it could do once its feline brain was set to “maul” mode, even if the victim was your friendly neighborhood magician superstar.

Most surprising was that The Mirage had no signs or other tribute to Roy in this area. It may have been elsewhere, but if so, I (and most others) missed it. Instead, it seemed to be business as usual, as if the attack had never happened — gift shops were selling a large inventory of stuffed white tigers, videos of the duo, and t-shirts. There wasn’t a “Get Well, Roy” placard in sight. This was in marked contrast to the headlines in the Las Vegas newspapers, which were reporting on the 267 people who have lost their jobs because the Seigfried & Roy show has ceased to exist.

I was bothered by something else at The Mirage — the attitude of the locals towards us out-of-towners during the poker tournament. This was the first time I’ve played in the Mirage no-limit hold’em tournament, and it’s going to be the last.

I have been in lots of cardrooms over the course of many years and played in several tournaments. I know that the seats around a poker table are filled with all sorts of folks, but these were among the most arrogant, abusive people I’ve ever been around. It’s one thing to look down your nose at other players while beating them and taking their money, but it’s another to be openly disdainful and downright rude.

That attitude is going to be unhealthy for poker in the long term, and it’s especially inappropriate at a time when the game is more popular than ever. Thanks to television, more and more people are coming to card rooms for the first time — but if their first exposure to casino poker play includes being abused and insulted, they’re unlikely to return. It’s one thing to lose your money, it’s another thing to be told you’re a jerk at the same time.

The poker veterans with the lousy attitude forget that bringing new people and new money into the room is a good thing, and it should be encouraged. Personally, I love it when a “Travel Channel rookie” (as they’re known, because that network’s “World Poker Tour” series has increased interest in the game enormously) sits down and starts playing. They may get lucky here and there, but in the long run, the other, better players will wind up with that player’s money — it’s the poker equivalent of a casino’s house advantage. Scaring them off means chasing money out of the room, which is a pretty bad way to conduct business for these poker pros.

They could take a lesson from the Siegfried & Roy incident — a bad mauling can end the show for everyone.