Hollywood Park Casino

After discovering that there was a casino with a large poker room on the street that I am staying, I decided I simply must check it out. It is about twice as far as the longest I have walked down West Century Blvd and with a few suspect characters in the area I decided to take the bus. The buses still run on Sunday’s, but on a reduced timetable. I got up and going early and was at the casino by 10:30, it is situated next to Hollywood Park Race Track and there was heaps of parking and from the outside it seemed like it could be a pretty nice complex.

When I got in there I was fairly disappointed with what I saw, the fact that it is called Hollywood Park and it is nowhere near Hollywood probably should have been a give away. Firstly, I was under the impression that there would be electronic tables to play on, as per a press release that they put out in October 2006 that I read. I spotted one electronic table… and there were people eating their lunch at it. So I resigned myself to playing on a dealer table, no big deal. The structure of the games was absolutely shocking though. Obviously, I wanted a no limit cash game, the games that were available for my buy-in range were the $1/$2 game with a MAXIMUM $40 buy-in or the $2/$3 game with a maximum buy-in of $100. For those who aren’t poker inclined, online I generally play $0.50/$1 with a maximum buy-in of $100. That means when I buy-in for the maximum, I am sitting there were 100 big blinds in my stack, giving me plenty of time to study and be patient, what cash games should be all about. If you want to play short stack poker, go and play a tournament, for mine I just love deep stacks. Anyway, whatever… I just decided to have some fun and buy-in into the $40 game or 20 big blinds.

The house rake in this game was the next thing that annoyed me; $1 was raked from every pot pre-flop and then $4 from every post flop pot, no matter how big or small. I would say that on average, this worked out to be a 15-20% rake… compare that with 5% online (as low as 1-2% with bonuses and rake back) what a joke. On top of this, the dealer gets a $1 or $2 from just about every pot. I don’t so much mind this, as they are separate to the house and deserve it for all the crap they put up with. Say that there are about 25 hands an hour that are raked $5 + $1 tip, this means that the players are paying $150 total or $15 each an hour to have the table open.

As for the game itself, it was loose and juicy (as you would expect with the structure), but I had very little to play with in my two hour session. I played only two hands, first was AT of hearts. I was first to enter the pot, in the cut-off + 2 seat and I made it $8, both the blinds called me. The flop came 678 rainbow, the small blind led for $5, the big blind called (all-in for him) and it was on me. I had a gutshot straight draw and two over cards, which may or may not have been good, and a backdoor flush draw. It was $5 to play and there was $34 already in the flop, I figure I am about 15-20% to win this hand so I call. The turn is a perfect 9, the small blind checks, I bet, he folds, the river pairs the board, but my hand is still good against the all-in player and I pull in the pot and tip the dealer.

The other hand I played was two sevens; I limped in on the button with one player already in the pot. The flop came 346, the small blind minimum bet, it was folded to me and I raised it to $6 (leaving the small blind with only $7 should he call). The turn was another four, the small blind went all-in and I called, with mixed feeling about my chances. He turned over K4, and I looked down and counted out my $7 to push over to him when I heard a groan from the table, I’d hit a miracle 7 at the river and won the pot. While of course I got lucky at the river, it wasn’t really any luckier than my opponent got on the turn.

After sitting there for two hours and only playing those two hands, I had exactly $40 in front of me once more, and decided I was bored and wanted to leave. I pocketed a $1 chip for my collection and cashed out. I wouldn’t recommend Hollywood Park to many people, the tables were dirty, the structure of the game was horrible, the rake was highway robbery, the floor staff were inefficient and unorganized and the room was populated by a few unfriendly characters. At one point a man that was obviously homeless and disoriented was allowed to sit down at our table, it took the dealer to take some action for security to help him. I didn’t get checked for ID and anyone could have just walked in off the street and gambled. There were also stories of players abusing other players and there were a number of people sleeping at unoccupied tables, obviously after a big Saturday night.

The highlight of the trip to the casino had to be the free Card Player magazine and the poker player gazette that included a crossword that I could do on the bus. I’m hoping that Hollywood Park is not a reflection of Californian card rooms, the Commerce Casino and the Bike definitely have a good reputation and I look for to play at them in the coming week. The whole experience made me appreciate online poker and even Crown Casino even more. Tomorrow is the big move across to the Hilton Hotel Universal City, tonight I will just be chilling out and watching Sunday Night Baseball, the series finale between the Red Sox and the Yankees. No photos for the day, not really much to shoot.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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