Women in Poker: Meet the Gardens Casino’s Carolyn Uzeta by Patricia Chavira

carolyn-uzeta

It’s a fact that women are underrepresented in poker. Whether at the tables or on the casino floor, seeing a woman is still the exception rather than the rule, so when I see a woman in a card room, I am always curious about her journey. This is Carolyn Uzeta’s story.

Carolyn ended up in a card room the same way many other women do: her boyfriend was a poker player. As she says, she was that woman who sat behind her beau listening to bad beat stories and offering support.

At the time, she was in college working as a cocktail waitress. She figured she may as well work at the card room where her boyfriend played, and that’s how she ended up at Hawaiian Gardens casino in 2000 when it was still just a tent, not the showplace it is today.

She worked in various positions in the casino until she ended up at a corporation banker. It was in that job that Carolyn realized she wanted to be a dealer, and knowing how difficult it was to get a dealer position in those days, she practiced until she finally auditioned for a dealer position.

She became a dealer, and now she is the Training and Development Manager at the newly-named Gardens Casino. She has two assistants and a team of trainers who ensure the Gardens Casino has some of the best dealers in the business.

There is an extensive training and continuing education process the dealers are put through from learning about customer service to training them to deal in such a way that a player should never notice any difference from dealer to dealer.

As Carolyn puts it, if a customer has a bad time, not only does the casino lose one player, but that player may tell 20 other people who may never step through the door because of that one negative experience.

And she is right. The poker scene in Los Angeles is a tight community, poker players talk, and word spreads like wildfire.

But dealers talk, too, and it is imperative that poker is a positive experience for all. Dealer abuse should never be tolerated.

Carolyn works hard to ensure her dealers are well-trained; we as players should always show appreciation for a job well done or call the floor if we need a ruling.

In poker as in life, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves respect.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker.  She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

 

 

 

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SoCal Poker Championships Starts Today by Patricia Chavira

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The inaugural SoCal Poker Championships (SCPC) kicked off today at the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, California. In a rare casino collaboration, four Los Angeles card rooms are hosting a $3,000,000 guarantee poker tournament for a mere $350 buy-in. First place is guaranteed $500,000 and a Mercedes.

Each casino will feature eight Day 1’s with two flights each day at 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. for a total of 64 starting flights. From Sunday, September 18 through Sunday, September 25, the Gardens Casino will host Day 1A’s of the SCPC during its 6th Annual The Gardens Poker Classic.

10% of the field of each Day 1 will be in the money and 6% will advance to Day 2. Players who advance to Day 2 will be paid $800, and if they qualify more than once, they will be paid $2,500.

The same format will be used at all four casinos.

On Monday, September 26, at 1 p.m., Day 2 gets under way at the Gardens Casino. Because the tournament is a Quantum format, there is a direct buy-in of $4,500 into Day 2 for 210,000 chips. Day 3 will be played on Tuesday, September 27 at 1 p.m.

Big Poker Oktober

big-poker-oktober

The SCPC then moves to the Bicycle Hotel & Casino during its Big Poker Oktober. From Saturday, October 1 through Saturday, October 8, Day 1B’s will be held twice a day at 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Day 2 will be held on Sunday, October 9 at 1 p.m. with Day 3 on Monday, October 10 at 1 p.m.

The last two stops are at Hustler Casino from October 21 through October 30 and at the Commerce Casino from November 5 through November 14.

Day 4 will be held at the Bike on December 14 with the tournament concluding on December 15.

Players can also earn points towards a $100,000 freeroll each time they register for a Day 1 starting flight. The top 50 point leaders combined from all properties will win a spot to the freeroll scheduled for December 13.

The amount of points awarded depends on what casino the points were earned at:

  • The Gardens Casino: 12 points per entry
  • The Bicycle Hotel & Casino: 10 points per entry
  • Hustler Casino: 8 points per entry
  • Commerce Casino: 6 points per entry

Players who qualify for Day 2 earn an additional 33 points.

Where to Find Additional Information

Visit socalpokerchampionships.com for additional information. Follow @SoCalPokerChamp on Twitter for the latest updates.

Watch the video below where the tournament directors explain the format.

 

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

Memorial Day Poker Tournaments

Oceans 11 Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to play poker. Whether you are in Los Angeles, San Diego or the Central Valley of California, there is a tournament near you.

The Normandie Casino in Gardena, California, will be hosting its $10,000 Memorial Day Poker Tournament on May 30 at 1 p.m. The $85 buy-in tournament features 10,000 starting chips, and the first three rounds will be 30 minutes. All subsequent rounds will be 20 minutes. There are no rebuys or add-ons

The newly-opened Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, California, is the most beautiful cardroom in Los Angeles and the largest card room in the world. To celebrate its completion, the Gardens is holding its $75,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event in the Inaugural Gardens Poker Festival.

Starting at 12:15 p.m., the $320 buy-in tournament has no rebuys or add-ons. The series began on May 15 and concludes on Tuesday, May 31 with a unique No-Limit Hold’em Tournament Turbo Steps Tournament.

With three starting times at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and buy-ins ranging from $25 to $110, 40% advance to the next step, the $20,000 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Steps Poker Festival Finale at 4 p.m. The Gardens Poker Festival featured over $1,000,000 in guarantees, and I hope it becomes a regular part of the poker circuit in Los Angeles.

Ocean’s 11 Casino in Oceanside, California, will present its annual Memorial Day Tournament on May 30 at 10 a.m. The $240 buy-in tournament features an estimated $50,000 prize pool. Last year the prize pool swelled to $69,000.

Players start with 10,000 starting chips, and for a $10 optional staff add-on, they can receive an additional 2,000 chips. The tournament features 30 minute levels, and there is no re-entry permitted.

Registration opens one hour before the start of the tournament and continues until the end of the first break. The tournament is limited to the first 300 players. According to tournament director Anthony Canlas, a free bbq will be provided for the players.

In Fresno, California, Club One Casino will present the 8th Annual Memorial Day 100 which runs from May 28-30 and features a $30,000 guarantee. The $125 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament features two starting days on May 28 and 29.

The top 20% advance to Day 2 on May 30. All three days start at 2:15 p.m. Last year the tournament had over 377 entrants, and Club One is expecting another tremendous turn-out.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

Friday Poker Tournaments in Los Angeles

Tournaments

One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is the non-stop poker action. On weekends I like to play the Quantum Reload tournaments at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, but with the World Series of Poker Circuit running there all month, these tournaments have been suspended.

Hollywood Park Casino

Corey Silver

Corey Silver, Tournament Director for Hollywood Park Casino

On my quest to find a new Friday night tournament, I discovered some great poker values around town. Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood has two tournaments on Friday. At noon is a $60 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament with a $10,000 guarantee. At 7 p.m. there is another $60 buy-in tournament with a $12,000 guarantee.

Both tournaments feature 20 minute levels, 10,000 starting chips and one $60 re-buy for 15,000 chips. In my experience, Tournament Director Corey Silver runs some of the best tournaments in town.

Commerce Casino

Commerce Casino

Commerce Casino, the world’s largest poker casino with over 240 tables, runs two tournaments on Friday. At noon is the $65 buy-in Deepstack Turbo, which features 10,000 starting chips, 15 minute levels and a $2,500 guarantee.

At 6 p.m. Commerce runs the $150 No-Limit Hold’em Megastack with 15,000 starting chips and 15 minute levels. There are no rebuys or add-ons in this tournament, and registration closes at 8:15 p.m. giving you plenty of time to make the tournament even if you get caught in L.A.’s traffic.

Gardena

Hustler

Across town in Gardena, the Normandie and Hustler Casino host Friday night tournaments at 7 p.m. Normandie’s No-Limit Hold’em tournament features a $40 buy-in, 6,000 starting chips and a $3,000 guarantee.

Players registered by 6:45 p.m. receive 500 bonus chips. Registration is open until 8:30 p.m. There are no rebuys or add-ons.

Hustler Casino’s $100 Super Friday tournament starts with 10,000 chips and features a $5,000 guarantee. There is one $70 add-on for 15,000 chips. The levels are 20 minutes with the exception of Level 5, which is 60 minutes. Players may re-enter during the first five levels. Late registration lasts until 9:20 p.m.

Hawaiian Gardens

Gardens Casino

The Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens hosts a $15,000 guarantee No-Limit Hold’em tournament at 6:45 p.m. Players receive 7,000 starting chips for their $115 buy-in. Players can purchase 3,000 bonus chips for $10.

There is one $50 rebuy for 7,000 chips. Levels last 30 minutes for the first three levels and 25 minutes for the remainder of the tournament. Registration closes at the end of the 15-minute break after the third level.

Visit http://www.thegardenscasino.com for more information.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a weekly column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker

 

Los Angeles Poker Explosion

Bicycle Casino Rendering

Bicycle Casino Rendering

The Los Angeles poker scene is undergoing a massive transformation. We keep hearing how poker is on life support, but that is certainly not the case in Los Angeles. There are currently four major expansions and renovations being undertaken in card rooms throughout Southern California.

With over 240 tables, Commerce Casino is the largest card room in the world. Established in 1983, Commerce features a full-service 200-room Crowne Plaza Hotel. Commerce has undergone a major renovation of its hotel rooms and continues to upgrade its facilities. It has recently added to its game mix the Lucky Rabbit Party Pit with Playboy Bunnies as dealers and servers.

The Bicycle Casino is scheduled to open a new hotel and spa at the end of the year. The new expansion will include a seven-story, 100-room hotel. It will feature a sophisticated cocktail lounge, top-notch brewery, an open sundeck with private cabanas and a luxurious spa with a salon, sauna and treatment rooms. I saw the renderings for the new facility, and I have to say it will rival any resort in Las Vegas.

“The Bicycle Casino and Hotel is proud to present our new suites and suite-size hotel rooms beginning this December. With our renovated casino plus new restaurants, we will give our patrons the superb services we have always provided,” says Leo Chu of the Bicycle Casino.

The Gardens Casino located in Hawaiian Gardens, California, is building the largest poker facility in the world with the goal to have over 300 table games in the not-too-distant future. The new project consists of replacing the current temporary tent structure with a two-story 202,111 square foot building.

David Moskowitz, a co-owner of The Garden Casino, told me when all phases are open, the Gardens Casino will become the largest card room in the world. Eric Hoffman, manager of the Gardens Casino, said the VIP poker section in the new casino will double in size from 17 high-limit poker games to over 34.

This brings us to the massive transformation of Hollywood Park. The racetrack may be gone, but Hollywood Park Casino is in the midst of a major revitalization that will transform it into the premier casino and entertainment destination in Southern California. While the complex undergoes a physical overhaul, the management at Hollywood Park is dedicated to making the transition to the new casino as smooth as possible.

Ramy Wahba, Director of Casino Operations at Hollywood Park Casino says, “I am blessed and fortunate for having assembled a great team of managers and employees who are making our journey to success much easier. Likewise, I must recognize our executive members for their progressive vision and the support they are providing for this development. I am confidently driving toward an unmatched level of success for Hollywood Park Casino.”

Hollywood Park Casino will open a new poker room in 2016 that will be the most state-of-the-art poker room in the world. The new Hollywood Park will offer movie theaters, condos, restaurants and a new entertainment complex which should draw huge crowds to the new complex.

Besides opening a new casino, they are building a sports complex that may see future Super Bowls played at Hollywood Park along with bringing over a new Los Angeles NFL team. Nothing will equal the planned Hollywood Park facility. It will rival City Center in Las Vegas when the project is complete. This is in keeping with Ramy Wahba’s motto: “Give more and expect less.”

Los Angeles poker will soon be the center of the poker universe. With so much planned for poker players in Los Angeles, you can see why if you’re a poker player or table games player, you will have over a thousand tables all within 20 minutes of each other in Los Angeles.

With this much competition for their poker dollar, the players will really benefit. If you’re a poker enthusiast or desire to become a professional poker player, you may have to consider Los Angeles as your base. It’s a great time to be a poker player in Los Angeles.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. Robert is most well known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has over 30 years experience in casino marketing and player development. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.