Even though I have been to LA many times, it has been since my poker infancy that I was last here, and I knew that I would be unable to avoid the temptation to sample the cardrooms in the area, so I decided to take a day and hit both the Bicycle Casino and Commerce Casino - I contemplated going to the much-hyped Hustler Casino, but ultimately decided that I could not walk in there with a straight face. The two casinos are a few miles from each other, and both only about 30 minutes away from Hollywood in traffic.
So, to the Bike I went. The area of Bell Gardens, CA is not exactly BelAir. It's pretty grungy and dusty down there, and the Bike proved to be quite similar. Atlantic City citizens - all I have to say to describe the Bike is 'Taj' and you will have a pretty clear picture. It's so much like the Taj, when I walked in I thought I was there.
Now, a moment about games here...there is no conventional "1/2" like we know it out here. It appears that there is a buy-in cap of sorts, and the only thing available at the Bike was a 2/3 $300 cap buy in. Looking at what was signing up, high Limit games are big....really big out here.
40/80 tables looked commonplace with 3 tables running. As I'll mention in the Commerce section, no-limit seems to not be as prevalent out here. Anyway, I sat down at the aforementioned table.
I was only here about 90 minutes, but a few things - a woman came by with a food menu, and I was hungry so I ordered some stir-fry asain vegetables. When the veggies came, I pulled out my wallet to pay, and she said "Compliment" in broken English. So, food is free here! That's a first. I was up and down for a bit, then lost all-in with jacks to a rivered K. On to Commerce.
The Commerce Casino was, in short, a welcome scene change. For starters, it looks like an actual casino from the outside. Inside, I walked into a nicely proportioned gaming floors with blackjack, pai-gow and the like, and ahead of me was a very nicely appointed poker room with big screen tv's, etc. Not as big as I heard it was, I thought. Also quizzical...no clear place to put your name on the board...instead, there were inscrutable marker board with various levels - very high levels. Unsure of what to do and already a bit baffled by the lack of 1-2NL in California, I just went up to a floor person and asked to be seated at a NL table. He said, "10-20? 25-50?" I said, "Um, no, more like 1-2." "Oh. You're new here, right? NYC?" "Yes." "Follow me."
He led me out of that room, which I now realized was the highroller room, and beyond a wall was an incredible sight. A HUGE, MASSIVE airplane hangar of a room with easily 150-200 tables, with floor perople and screens in six places. I quickly sat at a table that was 3-5 with a $200 cap (I know, right? bizarre).
I knew right away that this would be a good session. The table was soft, real soft. My first hand was a flopped set. And chipped up rather quickly. I went up another buy-in not long after holding AQ and an AQ8 board. I led out and was called every street, K, then 7, I scoop it when he shows q8. I go up two more buy-ins when I call a raise in LP with 3d5d, and two 5's come. A raise to 20, I call. The turn is the 3. Villain bets 60, I call. River blanks, and villain bets 125, I shove my full stack and a call. He tables AA. Boing!
I saw a lot of draw-chasing, lots of second pair at showdown, just basically a lot of sloppy play. I had a good read on who to attack and who to avoid....and I ended the day up $700. should I choose to move to Los Angeles, I think I have found my new home!