I like to classify myself as a serious amateur. I'm probably closer to the "rec" side of the sliding scale than "pro", but my lifetime graph is in the positive numbers for both tournaments and cash, so that's good I guess. But really I look forward to the two times a year when I can "pretend" to be a professional poker player. In June I spend 4 or 5 days at the WSOP, playing a couple tournaments and grinding the STTs. And in December I spend the weekend before my birthday in either Vegas or LA just grinding cash games. No work. No family. Just poker.
This year I decided to do something different. In my four days in SoCal, I played 4-5 hour sessions in five different rooms. Really wanted to see how the games vary in each place, and also get to meet some of the CLPers in each room. It was actually a lot of fun going from place to place. Decided it would be cool to put together a trip report on my 4 days in LA. It's going to be a bit long, as I tend to be wordy, but whatever...
First stop wasn't LA, though. I flew into LAX on Friday afternoon and immediately battled the traffic and drove down to Ocean's Eleven in Oceanside. @chilidog
invited me down to buy me a drink for my birthday, so I figured why not? The $5/$5 game there was a $1500 Cap. The room I didn't think was anything special, but one thing it had going for it was the drink servers were constantly around. The rest of the trip I couldn't get a drink to save my life! As for the play, the game was right in my wheelhouse. Lots of loose passive players without a fold button. I got stacked literally the second hand I played when villain got it in with a flush draw against my top two and hit, but I had no problems making it back and then some. It was all about making hands and value betting relentlessly. It's no wonder Chili loves this place. Results at Ocean's Eleven: 5 hours played, +$455.
On Saturday afternoon, I went over to Hawaiian Gardens for their $5/$5, $600 Cap game. I heard this place was recently renovated, and boy is it nice. I thought this was the nicest room I've ever played in outside of Vegas. Clean, organized, spacious. Oh, and the players were AWFUL. This was far and away the softest game I played in over the weekend. The biggest mistake I saw was people making bet sizes based on the strength of their hands. Made it so easy to play against. I got value every time I needed to and folds every time I needed to. Hand Reading these players was so ridiculously easy, it was like they were playing face-up. I probably should have just stayed there, but I wanted to stick to my plan of 5-hour sessions to not wear myself out. But my advice to anyone visiting LA: Play at HG! One other observation, maybe just a coincidence or small sample size, but maybe not - I played with 6 or 8 different female players during my session, the only women I played with the entire weekend. Weird, right? Results at Hawaiian Gardens: 5 hours played, +$2110.
After a few hours break for dinner and relaxation, I headed over to Commerce around 9:30. For those who haven't been there, it really is a sight to behold - tables crammed in as far as the eye can see, and noisy beyond belief. I bought in to the $5/$5 $500 Cap game and got a table that I would identify ad the quintessential LA poker table. Most of the players were loud, obnoxious people of various ethnicities and levels of drunkenness. They all seemed to know each other, which made me uneasy, especially when they spoke some language I didn't know. I stacked a player once with top 2 against top pair no kicker, then he got it back from me when he hit an ace after getting ATo in preflop against my KK. It was later than I learned that was "Hank" that @bart
has mentioned in past podcasts. Bart observed that my game was shaping up to be, in his words on Slack, "epic". However, these guys decided to go play a "private game", which was fine with me, as that level of variance would have been a bit much for my current bankroll status. I ended up at a different table that was much more mellow. @zambrota
gave me the lowdown on some of the players at the table, which turned out to be very ABC. I'd classify this table as a "normal" $5-blind table that you'd find in Seattle, or Milwaukee, or Cleveland. I played very ABC myself, low risk, low reward. Nothing flashy. Results at Commerce: 5 hours, +$360.
Sunday morning I headed over to Hustler to watch football (Go Lions!) and play a session there. @thehammah
both raved about the $5/$5 $1K Cap game there, especially on Sundays. I got there shortly before noon and there were no games going! That surprised me, but Hammah and Squishy both indicated that was an exception, not the rule. Game got going around 12:45. My table had the widest range of skill levels of the places I played. A couple really, really good players, and a couple really bad ones, with everyone else sprinkled in between. It was a matter of trying to get to the bad ones while the pros were doing the same thing. Sadly, this was the session that I played my worst, and the good players made me pay for it. I repeatedly value-owned myself, got bluffed off the best hand in a large pot, and couldn't lay down an overpair against a rivered two pair when all draws missed. I think the "grind" of the last couple days had me too tired to properly execute, especially at a table where it was imperative to pay attention. I mentioned it in Slack, but props to those of you who are putting in long hours every day and staying sharp. Results at Hustler: 4 hours played, - $1440.
I decided to take Sunday night off and "Netflix and Chill", then would play one more session at Hollywood Park before my flight out. I showed up about 11:00 right as they got the first $5/$5 game going, a $500 Cap. HP is also very nice, right up there with Hawaiian Gardens. And like HG, these players were awful, but in a different way. It seemed every pot was either limped like 8 ways, or 3- or 4-bet preflop in weird dick-waving contests. It was really bizarre. I wasn't 100% sure how to properly adjust, so I decided to just play ABC. Unfortunately the deck did not cooperate. I got AA in preflop in one of these weird 4-bet pots and lost to QJ, and had another shortstack call a turn shove with AJ against my KT on KTxx and hit. Aside from missing some value in a set over set confrontation on a straightening board, I played fine, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Despite that, Hollywood Park is definitely a great place to play. Results: 4.5 hours played, - $1100.
Overall I played 23.5 hours and made only $385, but I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed getting away from my normal "grind". You guys and girls who play in LA (sorry Chili, I mean SoCal) are a bit spoiled having so many different games and places to pay to choose from. I had my best experience at Hawaiian Gardens, though the great session may have had something to do with it. I'd also recommend making the trek down I-5 to Ocean's Eleven as well - totally worth the drive.
Thanks again to @chilidog
, and @squishmytomato
for "hosting me", as well as to @thehammah
who was hosting in spirit from a volcano's edge in Hawaii. I look forward to seeing you all again either in Vegas in June, or LA next December.