Friday, May 9, 2008

California Trip Report – Part Two

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light…

I got up relatively early from my previous day of casino hopping and went out to find sustenance. The good news about California is that it is CHOCK full of good taquerias. That means good Mexican street tacos, which I absolutely love. They constituted probably 2/3 of my meals during the week. Hey, when in Rome…

I only had two casinos on tap for today. Lake Elsinor and Pechanga. Lake Elsinor is hardly a casino. It’s a motel with a VFW style room attached to it with about 15 tables in it. When I got there, I had some coffee in their diner and then signed myself up to the O/8 table, because I’m a glutton for limit game punishment. While I was waiting, I sat at a 6-12 HE table. The action was SICK. People raising and re-raising just for the hell of it. I sat tight and waited for a few premium hands and then pumped them good. I was able to walk away with a good hundo of profit when I decided to pick up and leave. This place was clearly for locals only and I wanted to see what Pechanga had to offer. Before I left, though, I sat for some Blackjack at one of the two tables they had going. I saw something very odd there. There was a guy in the corner of the table banking every hand. I’ve seen people banking table games like Pai-Gow, but this seemed different somehow. I found out a few days later what the deal was. It turns out that in California, Casinos (other than Indian Casinos) can’t bank their own games. Instead, they contract out corporations (like Network Management, Inc.) to bankroll the table games. An employee of the company sits at the table with a rack of chips that belong to that company and pay out the dealers as needed to pay out the players. It’s a very odd system but that’s how it works.

Something else I noticed that separated California poker from other places. In California rooms, the rake is taken BEFORE the hand starts. To compensate, the blinds are larger than normal for the same buyin games. For example, a $200 max NLHE game has blinds of $3-$5. A dollar is taken immediately from the small blind to pay the jackpot drop. The other $4 or $5 dealers is taken as soon as the flop comes. This is different, and more expensive, than the %10 rake taken from the Atlantic City casinos. Don’t ask me what happens if there is no flop, I wasn’t paying attention.

I got to Pechanga in the early afternoon and I was seriously impressed. They put some SERIOUS money into this place and it shows. It’s at least the equal of the Borgata, except the patrons aren’t as young. The poker room is equally spectacular and it’s upstairs from the casino floor so it’s away from the noise of the floor. You go up an escalator and past some glass doors into a huge open room. There are about 60 tables or so and in the center is a slightly raised podium with the high limit tables. Above this podium, on the ceiling, is a huge three sided TV screen which, tonight, was showing the DeLaHoya fight. All around on the walls were other huge TV screens. The ceiling height was at least 35 feet, so it made the room look gargantuan. Unfortunately for this potentially world class room, the place was more than half empty. On a Saturday night, that doesn’t bode well. I played a whole bunch of O/8 at Pechanga, and was rewarded by losing 3 buyins. In my defense, weak though it is, even the other players were bemoaning my ridiculous bad luck. But that doesn’t excuse my strange addiction to this game which I am clearly not good at. Sometimes, when you see someone staying in for three bets with an inside straight draw, on a paired board, and then winning(!), it makes you crazy.
Luckily, I had to leave at 9:30 in order to drive to Newport Beach and check into my next hotel. Sunday was set aside for sightseeing, and some face-time with a former family member.

1 comment:

O Pechanga said...

Pechanga is running on empty because they have had SO much bad publicity for disenrolling 25% of their tribe. They have cheated their own people. You mentioned the rake. It IS more expensive to gamble in CA's casinos, because the oversight is weak.
While Pechanga is very nice on the outside, it's very sinister on the inside. Take a look at Original Pechanga's Blog.