Monday, June 07, 2004

Commerce Trip Report

We are back from LA. Things were unusual, but that is kind of what I'd expected. I have been to Southern California many times, but I have never played poker there, having heard all of the horror stories about LA cardrooms. I can definitely affirm that the rumors are true, lol, it really is a nightmare playing in a place where people are so unhappy, and almost no rules are enforced.

We arrived on Tuesday evening about 6pm. We checked into our hotel in Alhambra, about ten minutes away from Commerce. We decided to take a nap after our long drive, then we headed over to Commerce to check out the action.

The sats are held upstairs in the "conference" area. They had divided this area into three sections: one for sats, one for the twice daily super-sats, and one for the main tournaments being held each day.

I played in a few sats, chopped one, did a save on another. The sat structure was horrible, much worse than Binion's or any other sat I've ever played in. We were only given 300 chips for $80, and the structure started out at 15/30. Yipes! Two people were out the very first hand! Within no time at all, we were down to HU. It was me and another woman. I had almost all of the chips on the table, about 1800 to her 600. I was dealt aces, made aces up immediately, put her all-in, just to see her make a straight on the river. On the very next hand, she was dealt a three flush, I started with jacks, and I watched her make her wheel and flush on the river. Now I was the chip dog, and she had almost all of the chips. She knew that she got lucky, and proposed a save, which I had no real choice but to take, since I didn't even have enough chips left for a full bet.

Mickey Mouse was playing in every satellite he could. He would run from table to table. If he got shortstacked in one sat, he would just leave his chips, and go to another. He was playing in the one table sats, and the super sat at the other end of the room. He was extremely cordial to play against, very polite. I never saw him win anything during the whole four days we were in LA.

Daniel Rentzer came to my second sat, and took a seat to my right. His constant calling helped me chop that sat. He would simply not lay down a hand when I reraised him, and would chase until at least fifth or sixth, never fully believing that I had him beat, yet exclaiming that he "knew it" when the hand was over.

I played in the $540 Stud 8 event on Wednesday. I drew seat four, lucky me. At my table was that motorcycle mustache guy that I'd played against at Binion's. He was just as grumpy and mean as he had been last month. I heard later that he was in horrible pain due to some kind of accident, but that he is normally a very nice man. I wish he didn't feel the need to take out his pain on others.

There were several top players at my table. Seat one was an older man named Stan. I can't recall his last name, but he is a very good player. Seat two was Kathy Kolberg, daughter of Jack Keller. Seat three was an Asian, name player. I recognized his name right off, but now I can't recall it. Seat five was Mike Longe, an older, eccentric player known to everyone. Seat eight is a jittery, nervous player. I can't remember his name now either, but he is a known, top player.

I started out doing okay, but then I got run down badly on two hands. The most painful was when the Asian to my right completed, then called my raise. I had aces, he had queens. I made aces and jacks first four, he still had the queens. I caught a queen on board. He had no chance for a low, but still kept calling. On sixth, he even said something about knowing I had aces up, and that only the case queen could save him since he only had the one, unimproved pair. What do you think he caught? Yeah.

So I was the first one out at my table. I had very tough opponents. Two of my tablemates made it into the final ten or so. Kathy Kolberg made a deal at the very end!!! Go Kathy!

I also played in the $540 Stud event on Friday. I did much better, although the cards got cold after the first hour or so and I literally let myself get anted from about 1100 in chips to 500, yowsa! My tablemates this time were extremely friendly and pleasant. There were no arguments the entire time we played, until our table broke. During that cold spell, I was only dealt pairs twice. Once I had deuces, but the other two deuces were dead and my kicker was a trey. The other time I had eights with a five kicker, one of each was dead and there was a completion in front of me, with paint behind me. When I was dealt a three flush or a three straight, too many of the cards I needed were on board, and I had to give it up right from the beginning, or when I bricked on fourth. I still managed to hang in there until the fourth hour, when we had 42 players left. I went all-in on third with the best hand: 4T/4, but got outdrawn by 33/A when he paired aces.

I watched some very good players. Many of the top players were there until the Plaza tourney started, so I got to see the elite in action. Tony Ma was there once again, and I have become more and more impressed with his play. I accidentally made a mistake when writing about the Stud 8 sat at Binion's last month, saying Hon Le instead of Tony Ma. Oops! I didn't realize my mistake until I started watching the WPT videos that Michael gave me as a present. Hon was at Commerce, as well, playing 20/40 Stud.

I got to know David Levi a little better. He befriended me a bit at Binion's, and seemed happy to see me again. He is really running well. He cashed in a NLHE event at Commerce the night before the Stud 8 tourney, then turned around and won the Stud 8 tourney the next day! He is always very friendly and outgoing, trying to get me introduced to the tourney crowd he hangs with.

The tableside food service at Commerce was fantastic. The prices were cheap, and the quality was excellent. The buffet was horrible, even worse than the Binion's buffet this year. Luckily, tournament players can use their buffet coupons for the little snackbar in the tournament room.

Glenn and I kept eyeing the spa at Commerce. We were both tense and needed to relax. One of the players at my Stud 8 table kept bragging about their massages, saying they were the best. That sealed it for us, we decided to get massaged. I'll tell ya, that was the best $120 massage I've ever had. Well, that was the best massage, period.

That girl punched me, kicked me, walked all over me, jumped up and down on me. It was fantastic. She had these bars that she hung from on the ceiling. I was high-karate'd into bliss. I didn't want the 90 minutes to ever end. If you ever go to the Commece spa, ask for Susan. You won't be sorry, if you like deep tissue massages.


During one of the sats at Commerce, a player who was about to bust out of another sat locked up a seat for ours. When he busted out, he came to our table. When the sat was over at his previous table, a player came over to him and asked him to pay the $20 he owed him in a last-longer bet. The player refused to pay. The situation turned out to be that the two players never put the money on the table. So the player who lost felt no obligation to pay the other. Before long, violence broke out.

Why I relate this story is because of the absolute aburdity of the supervisors at Commerce. Every day while I was there, the floormen were scolding the dealers for not informing the floor when someone cursed or there was trouble at the table. By Friday, supervisors were actually threatening the dealers, saying that if they didn't report trouble, but a player came to them personally, the dealer would be sent home, not able to work that day. I almost laughed hysterically, loudly, right in the floorman's face, when he said this.

When the incident with the last longer bet happened, the two players were pushing each other, threatening with fists, using every curse in the book, etc. Other players got involved as well, and there were probably 50 uses of the F-word in ten minutes or less. The floor was called half a dozen times, and NOTHING was ever done. NOTHING. This after all of the threats of the same floorpeople to report abuse. Security was called, guns were unholstered...still, NOTHING was done. Finally the head floorperson came to the table, only to say in this this whiny, mousy voice, "Now you guys! I'm telling you for the last time, stop this fighting. If I have to come over here again, the two guys fighting are going to have to leave."

OMG! And people wonder why there is so much abuse at Commerce.


While we were at the hotel, Glenn flipped on the TV one night. We happened to run across Late Night Poker on Fox Sports (the old, cancelled Brit show). I was very impressed by LNP, from the one episode I got to watch. I vastly preferred the glass table to the lipstick cam. The players were able to look at their cards naturally, then place them face down on the glass. Gone was the awkwardness of trying to look at the hole cards while at the same time showing them to the cam.

If anyone gets Fox Sports and is able to tape the LNP episodes for me, as well as the WPT, Showdown at the Sands, Northeast Poker Championship, etc, I would gladly pay for the tapes and the shipping. I am not interested in the non-professional shows. I have the first season of the WPT, and the old WSOP tapes, but nothing current. Please e-mail me if you would take pity on a poor-no TV girl.