It has been a surreal month for me and I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality which is the first time that I’ve ever felt like that after travelling overseas. 5 weeks is way too long to be away from your family, even if you are with other family on the other side of the world. I really enjoyed pottering around at home with my father who has an incredible sense of humour. Before I left, we went shopping for a new Samsung LED TV for him so he’s all set for the World Cup now. Unfortunately for those of us living Down Under, the games are played in the middle of the night.
After leaving Ireland, I headed for a wedding in New Jersey which went like clockwork. The majority of the preparations had been done in advance so it was all very relaxed in the few days of the lead up. Lots of meals out didn’t do anything for the waistline though and I’m not sure that poker is the best pursuit for shifting that either. No poker was had in New Jersey, but a quick goggle search would indicate that there is a healthy ‘home game’ scene there.
The poker highlight of my trip was to LA where I was lucky enough to stay at the Commerce Casino. They have a Crowne Plaza upstairs which is actually very, very good, I thought. Spacious, clean room with free high speed wifi. I’d read and heard so much about the Commerce that I was really looking forward to seeing if it is as good/bad as they say. The 2+2 threads would indicate that an hour or two of good behaviour at a table is running like God. I’d have to agree. I’d consider myself pretty tolerant of a wide range of playing styles and behaviours but the Commerce certainly pushes the boundaries. Dealer abuse is common place and I saw cards thrown at the dealer 3 times. At Hawaiian Gardens (the Gardens, as they like to be called now) I seen the most amazing incident. We were playing $3/$6 Limit PLO8 which is played with racks of $1 chips. A huge hand ensued and a bluff was attempted on the river when there was no qualifying low, by a self-described gypsy who was casting curses on anyone that dared win a hand against him. Anyway, mild-mannered Chinese man in his 60s calls with pocket 77s and wins. Lightest hero call I’ve ever seen given the board that was out there. He scoops and the gypsy reaches into the middle of the table and splashes the pot toward him. He then gets up from Seat 7, walks around to Seat 1, reaches over and humourlessly knocks the old guys chip tower over. He then proceeds to go back to Seat 1 and ask the Chip Runner for a reload and plays on. I understand that this is an extreme version of what appears to be accepted (as opposed to acceptable) behaviour in LA. I could go on and on about what I encountered. The Hustler and the Bicycle Club weren’t any different.
For me the experience lived up to its reputation and I’d happily play at all of those casinos again because variety is the spice of life. I would certainly stop short of recommending them to anyone else. FWIW, my experience in San Francisco Card Rooms was entirely opposite, so it isn’t a Californian thing. As for results, I fared poorly except for my last session where I played a $40, yip $40, buy in $1/$2 NLH game. I’d read about it and again it lived up to its expectation. It’s an AI fest with half the table sitting on $300+ stack. It was my last day before flying out and I cashed out for 3 racks of chips to bring me close to even for LA. If I lived there I’m sure that I could beat the game because table selection would be so much easier and represent a massive advantage.
For the record, the most enjoyable places for me to play live poker in order are home games, Las Vegas, Dublin, Melbourne, Banbridge, London and San Francisco. Given its population Perth Burswood has done very well. The bottom of the list has got to be Star City Sydney for the rake, Macau for the smoking and LA for the worst behaved player pool by far.
Online update is that my game of cleaning up my losing HEM levels hiccupped at 25c/50c where I am struggling to claw back my modest PLO and PLO8 losses. Maybe that is my true level at the moment although the sample size is very small. I have been distracted again though … as I was sitting at LAX ready to fly back to Australia I decided to try Cascading my Tables as opposed to Tiling. Surprisingly, I much preferred it and ran pretty good. I played NLH 10c/20c for the experiment. Posted a win with ease. Since arriving home, I’ve fired up for just one session but again it went well. With Tiled tables, I max out at between 4 and 6 tables. With Cascading, I was comfortably 10-tabling FR and I’m sure that I could have added another 2 with ease. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go.
3 weeks ago