Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's hard out here for a pimp (traveler)

I finally got my plans together for my L.A. trip the first week in May. For those of you not on a Vision Quest to see every cardroom in America, let me give you a glimpse into how difficult it can be.

California has approximately a zillion legal casinos. Unfortunately, there isn't a comprehensive list of which ones offer poker. So, the first thing I have to do when I plan a trip to L.A. is to figure out where all the card rooms are and separate the slot palaces from the casinos I actually want to go to. To do this, I have to get a list of California Casinos. That's not to bad. What I do is look in Google Maps for the word 'casino' in any listing near L.A. Then I have to click on each individual link that might be a casino, hope they have a website, and then go to that website to confirm there is live poker being offered. If I can confirm that, I can put the listing on my Poker Rooms map. I currently have two maps. One for visited poker rooms and one for unvisited poker rooms, which I am slowly populating. The plan is that when I visit a poker room, I can move the listing from one map to the other until it is finally cleared.

Now that I have all of my listings on the L.A. area map, I have to figure out how to hit each one in the allotted time. This is complicated by the fact that not every card room is 24 hours. Some of them are closed Monday and Tuesday and some only open at 10 or 11 am and close late at night. Finally, once I have a general idea about which area I want to be in and when, I can book hotel rooms (thanks!). After at least 10 hours of work, here is my itinerary:

May 1st - Go to work and leave at 3PM so I can get on a plane at 7:35PM to take me to LALA land. Land at 10:35PM, get my rental car and drive to Pico Rivera a few miles east of Commerce to stay overnight at the Howard Johnson inn and suites.

May 2nd - Get up early and get on the highway. Drive about 100 miles east to the Spotlight 29 casino which is about 20 miles east of Palm springs. Spend the day making my way west, hitting 6 casinos along the way. End up in Riverside (midway between Palm Springs and LA) at the Days Inn near Tyler Mall.

May 3rd - Get up early again and drive north about 15 miles to San Bernadino and the San Manuel Indian casino. Play for a bit and then drive south again to Lake Elsinore, for a casino there and then finally to Pechanga casino in Temecula. I will hopefully be done by about 10PM and then I will drive west to the coast to Newport Beach and the Little Inn by Bay. Promptly crash.

May 4th - Get up and spend a leisurely morning on Newport Beach. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to eat a nice breakfast overlooking the ocean. Get in my car and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way up to Marina Del Rey and check in at the Marina International Hotel, where I'll be staying for the remainder of my trip. If I plan this right, I should be in my room by 3PM. Spend the rest of the day trolling the Hawaiin Gardens casino, Crystal Casino (Compton, gulp), Normandie casino and Hustler casinos.

May 5th - Cinco de Mayo! Quick trip to Hollywood Park and then Club Caribe. From there, it's nothing but Bicycle and Commerce casinos for the rest of the trip.

May 6th - My choice. I can sightsee in Hollywood, or I can hit the cardrooms again. Now that I've been everywhere, I can choose my poison. Maybe spend the morning at Santa Monica Pier.

May 7th - My flight isn't until 9:35PM, so I don't have to be at the airport until 7PM, meaning I can leave wherever I am by 6PM and get to my flight on time. More choices.

This is an ambitious schedule, with something like 17 card rooms in 6 days. It can be done, but I don't know how LA traffic is going to affect me. I also don't know how my sleeping habits will affect me. I found myself in Vegas going to sleep later than I wanted and getting up later. I don't anticipate the same thing here, since I'm not sleeping in a casino and there's more travel involved, but I still have to be careful about how much time I spend in each casino. I do have a cushion of time on May 6th, but I would like to get at least some sightseeing done. If I go to LA and don't see the walk of fame, the Chinese Theater, etc..., I'll feel cheap somehow.

These are the sacrifices I make for my quest. It's worth it, because it's nice to have a goal to work towards, but I definitely give up some of the leisureliness I enjoy.

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