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The Promised Land


by dtools22  |  Published Jan 22, 2013


So the road trip eventually had to end, and thank the heavens for that chestnut. Upon leaving our restful stop in Illinois it took us another 30 hours of travel to make it into a warm embrace from the City of Santa Clarita in California. Putting 3000 miles of terrain behind us and nearly 60 hours spent in the car together, we all finally made it around 2:30AM local time and all just plopped down on whatever was comfortable and passed out. A few days of rest and relaxation later, I was ready to check out the fabled LA poker scene.

First stop was the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, CA. Simply put, things are run very differently in the card rooms around here. Most of the alterations are just changes to the bells and whistles of the room, for example the chip colors are different from what I’m used to (they like yellow $5 chips out here for some reason) and the lists for the games running we’re on a standardized BRAVO system. These aren’t Earth shattering differences but they do require some adjustment and a little extra focus at the table to figure out what’s going on. The games were close to standard in terms of buy-ins and stakes being played. The game I spent most of my time in was a $2/$3NL game with buy-ins from $100-$300. A little different from my normal $1/$2 game with a $60 to $300 buy-in limit but not so different that I felt like I had to change much about my game. Play was soft, as you’d expect from a low stakes poker game and I had the hot hand that day. I flopped quads on a straddle bet and hit some bigger hands in modest pots (like KK v 88 for pots under $200 bucks). I wasn’t quite at my peak performance though. For some reason I wasn’t able to stay a laser sharp as I do when I’m on my A-game. I managed to give a little of my profits back and just booked the $170 profit on a 6 hour day. Wasn’t a terrible start to the trip.

The next stop on this little tour was the Commerce Casino in Commerce, CA. As it turns out, I arrived just a day early for the start of the LA Poker Classic so traffic in the poker room was booming. The games though are out of left field for what I’d consider standard. The no limit games are called “restricted buy in games” at the Commerce and here are the rules. Whatever the buy in for the game is you must buy in for exactly that amount on your first buy in, no more no less. Once you get stacked or need a reload, you can buy in for 50% more. For example they spread a $200NL game, if you lose that first buy in you can put $300 on the table when you reload. You can also buy in “short” after the first buy in where a short buy in is anything less than the buy in limit of the game. The rake is also very different in these games. There is a guaranteed rake every hand. There will be $1 taken for the house and $1 taken for the bad beat jackpots pre-flop, which is taken from the small blind. Even if the blinds chop, the small blind will lose $2 on the hand. Once you hit the flop the rest of the rake for the hand is taken. In the $200NL games, the cap is $5 rake for the house plus the $1 for the jackpot. At first I was wondering if these games could even be profitable given so much gets taken out of the pots so quickly. Once I started playing the $200NL game, I realized the potential gold mine I stepped into.

I’ve only logged 4 sessions at the Commerce in total, all of them at the $200NL games, so I haven’t put in enough volume to be 100% sure of my opinions of the games but here’s what I’ve noticed so far. There are a lot of fundamental mistakes in these games and people are paying off hands much lighter than I would normally see. The blinds in the $200NL game are $3/$5 so you are capped at 40BBs to start your day. The money moves around quickly though and it doesn’t usually wait for big hands to be involved. People are raising and getting the money in on Kxx flops with KJ type hands. Granted being only 40BBs deep top pair hands are much higher in value than when you’re in the neighborhood of a 150BB stack but I’m not sure that logic really plays much of a role in the decision process. Playing far less than my A-game I’ve turned out some solid sessions and had myself a nice little first week of grinding. With the LAPC in full force until March, I feel like I have a great opportunity to make some big strides and build up my bankroll.

This week I’m actually going to head about 4 hours north to the Bay 101 casino in San Jose. I’ll be there grinding for a couple of days and then head back to the Commerce to round out my week. All in all, I’m finally comfortable grinding in this area. I hit more of my stride last week at the Commerce and I’m confident I can keep riding that train for the next few weeks.



over 1 year ago

Sounds like you did well in California. Any totals for the trip? I used to play there a lot. Did you by chance stop at Golden West Casino in Bakersfield?


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