Sunday, January 22, 2006

L.A. Rooms

First of all I want to congratulate my friend Owen, who got married on Saturday! It was a fun wedding, and he and Vivian will have great life together. Owen publishes a comic strip called Osiebob, which I highly recommend you check out.

This is my first time in Los Angeles, so I figured I'd briefly write about the card rooms here.

I'm staying at the Commerce Casino, and it's clearly the main event of poker in the city. It's poker room is ginormous. It feels like the Rio at the World Series of Poker -- except for that it's like that all the time, not just during one week of the year. I know that the L.A. Poker Classic is going on, and that accounts for some of the traffic, but my impression is that it's pretty busy anyway. There are just tables upon tables, and the clatter of chips is endless.

My hotel room on the fifth floor is pretty nice, too. I'm kind of surprised.

The quality of the Commerce poker room is OK. It's certainly nothing special. They use these dry erase boards to put people on lists for tables, which I think is a decent way to do it. It's much better than pencil and paper, but it's not as good as a computer or projector screen queue list. I like the feel of the felt and the tables. The customer service is subpar, but I've quickly learned that that's the way life is in L.A. People are grumpy all the time, so deal with it.

The game selection is good, ranging from $1/$2 limit to $9/18 -- my favorite -- and up to high limits. The Commerce seems like the standard for many players.

I really liked the Bike. They have this tiered system, where the lowest level is the lowest limits. Walk up three steps to mid limits, and then three more steps to high limits. The room is smaller, so it feels more like a real poker room than the big mess hall/gym feel that the Commerce gives off. They use projector screens for wait lists, which I really appreciate. I played $6/$12 and $8/$16 there, and the games were decent.

One thing of note: although most poker rooms here have adopted no-cursing-at-the tables rules, they're even less enforced than at other gambling halls. I mean, I don't mind it much unless it gets personal. The problem is that it often does get personal, and the casino staff does nothing about it. It's also heavily annoying that foreign languages are tolerated at the table and everyone thinks it's cool to talk on their cell phones while playing. I blame the card rooms for not having or enforcing rules that would encourage some decency. This place feels like what poker would be like in a world ruled by zombies, where all the huddled masses are herded inside and the rulers of the poker room have no authority. They're just trying to keep everyone in.

I've also been to the Hustler and the Normandie. The Hustler had a pretty nice poker room, but I wish the waitresses were more attractive. The Normandie felt like the Plaza in Vegas. Kind of like a downtown casino that never got out of the early '80s. They both had the same flaws as the every other card room here.

But I'm having a great time. I'm only critical of the casinos because otherwise there would be no point in writing this. The games are good, and I've been fortunate to have some good cards. Even a donkey could play the cards I've been getting, but I've been trying to play them not donkey-like. I'll write more about the game play itself later.

Hope to see some of you tonight. It'll be fun.

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