This past Saturday I returned to Hollywood Park Casino. I had that recurring appointment in West L.A. late that morning, and it brings me a lot closer to HPC than Ventura. I had found the 1/2 game there, with a $40 min and $100 max, playable, so I went for a return visit.
The absolute worst thing about the game there—and this is true for all 1/2 games I know of in the L.A. area—is that they insist on using $1 chips instead of $5 chips. It’s such a pain. Especially when you’re fortunate enough to win a big pot. And not to spoil anything, but yeah, I was fortunate.
When I first sat down the table was in a state of flux, players coming and going. But then we settled in and it was actually a fun, chatty group. One Asian woman was complaining about this not being her day. This was her third table of the day as she tried to find a table or dealer that would be lucky for her. She finally won a few pots and then left to play in the tournament.
We talked about the Rams new stadium which is being built right on the complex. There’s a lot of construction going on, both right next to the casino and right behind it. The player on my left said you could really see the progress they were making on it from the sky, and he had just flown back to L.A. the other day and flew right over the construction site. The place is just a few minutes from LAX. He said that they were actually building down, digging deep into the ground. I dunno if this is true, but he told us that they can’t build the stadium high like you normally would because of the proximity to the airport.
So the Asian woman said, “I wonder if they found anybody buried there….oh just kidding.” I said, “Hmmm…..Maybe they’ll bury some bodies in the future. ‘Future Home of Bad Rams Quarterbacks.’” She liked that.
I was down to about $90 from my initial $100 buy-in when I was dealt Ace-3 of diamonds. I called $5 and then it was three-bet to $15. The initial raiser called and I came along as well. The flop was pretty good, 9-4-2. The 4 and the 2 were both diamonds. I checked, the preflop three-bettor bet $15, the other guy called and I called. The turn was a blank—less than a 9 but no help to me. This time he bet $25 and I called, we were now heads up. The river was an almost perfect 6 of diamonds giving me the nuts. Almost perfect because if it had be the 5 of diamonds it would have given me the steel wheel. Not that they have any high hand bonuses there—but it just would have looked so pretty.
I led out for $20. I know that sounds too small. But I figured it was so obvious that I had caught the flush, he probably wouldn’t have called much more. I wasn’t sure he would call that. I hadn’t been there very long. He went into the tank for a long time, and then finally said, “I have to call.” He added something about having put so much money into the pot. I showed my flush, he showed…pocket 10’s! Well true, it was an overpair. But honestly, did he “have” to call? I think it was because I made it so cheap for him. Would he have had to have called my shove? I don’t think so…but maybe.
My now bigger stack started dwindling in unremarkable fashion. Then I got pocket 10’s on the button and just called a bunch of limpers. The flop was 9-high, two diamonds. I did have the 10 of diamonds. It checked to me and I bet $8. Now it was 3-way. The turn was another diamond, but low. This time a guy bet $6. We both called. The river paired the 9. The guy who bet the turn checked, the next guy bet $5. I called and the other guy called. The guy who bet the river had a 7 for a pair of 7’s. The other guy mucked when he saw my pocket 10’s.
Then something happened I didn’t like, based on the rules of the casino. The guy on my left busted out. He bought back in for $20. “I want to short buy,” he told the dealer. And he was allowed to buy-in for the twenty bucks, even though the minimum buy-in is $40. I’ve seen this at other rooms, once you buy-in, you’re allowed to do a short buy. Some rooms you can only do it once, other rooms you can keep doing it. But it’s a bad rule and here’s why.
The very first hand he had with that short buy, he shoved after a small raise preflop. There was a call and the hand played out. He lost, but he showed his hand—9-4 offsuit. So he was just messing around hoping to get lucky and get a double or a triple up with a garbage hand. If he won, he’d have enough money to play with. If not, he’d be only out $20.
Well, after he lost the $20 he took out a $100 and bought in for that. He could have just bought in for that in the first place, but he was using the $20 to play bingo first. It was a poker game, not a table game. I don’t think short buys should be allowed. If you have a $40 minimum to enter the game (which, let’s face it, is low enough as it is), you shouldn’t allow a rebuy for less. It’s absurd.
I was down to just a bit more than even when I got pocket Aces. There were a few limpers so I made it $10. The way this game was playing I thought that was the right amount. At a “normal” 1/2 game I’d raise more. I got three callers so I guess I had indeed raised too little. The flop was King-Jack-6—all hearts. Did I mention both of my Aces were red? The guy on my right bet $21 before it could get to me. I considered raising but decided to just call. It was now heads up.
Another heart hit the turn, giving me le nuts. This time the guy checked, and it was obvious the way he checked he hated that turn card. Me, I loved it. I bet $40. He tanked for a long time but eventually called. Now the river card was the one I didn’t like. Another Jack. He checked again. Which brings us to a leak in my game (one of many). Betting the river when something like that happens. He seemed disgusted when he checked the turn but he was not emotional at all when he checked the river. I had assumed he had a low flush, but was it possible he had a set? He could still be unhappy with the fourth heart if he had a set, since it made a flush even likelier.
I dunno, I just felt that if my initial read was correct, and he had the baby flush, he wouldn’t call again anyway. So, I just played it safe and checked behind. He showed 7-5 of hearts.
Maybe it could have been more, but it was still a huge pot for this game. So here’s where it got to be real annoying that we were using $1 chips. It took me forever to stack those suckers. And when they moved to the new casino, they got all new chips, so they were slippery as hell. So unnecessary. Of course, if I ever won a pot with that many $5 chips I wouldn’t be complaining about how long it took to stack them.
After a limper or two (maybe three?), I made it $10 with pocket Jacks on the button. Three others called. The flop was 8-6-3 rainbow. It checked to me, I bet $25 and didn’t get a call.
I was in the big blind with Ace-4 off. There was a raise, but only to $4. I called and it was five-way. The flop was Ace-Ace-7. I called $5 and then someone made it $15, I called that. Now it was heads up. The turn was blank and we both checked. Another blank on the river and I bet $25 and he mucked.
And that was it. The cards turned cold for me and I racked up $250 for a $150 profit. Not bad for a 1/2 game with a $100 max buy-in.