LAPC Underway at Commerce Casino

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The Los Angeles Poker Classic (LAPC) got underway at the Commerce Casino on Friday with Event #1: $175 No-Limit Hold’em. This tournament featured a $100,000 guarantee and drew 1,079 players.

Event #1 Winner Jeffrey “Lee” Peterson took home $16,995 and the Remington trophy. In his winner’s interview, Peterson stated that he is a business owner who plays for entertainment. He took a five-year break from poker and last played in the LAPC’s Main Event last year.

He came back with a vengeance and plans on playing more events this year.

Tournament Director Matt Savage has put together a great schedule this year that should appeal to pros and recreational players alike. This week will feature a mix of events for mixed-game players starting with the $350 Omaha 8 or Better tournament on Monday.

$350 Stud 8 or Better will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Thursday will feature the $350 Omaha 8 or Better/Stud 8 or Better.

This weekend will feature several No-Limit events, including a $1,100 WPT Main Event Mega Satellite that guarantees two $10,000 seats on Saturday, January 21 at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, January 22 at 12 p.m. a $240 No-Limit Hold’em Knockout Big Bounty event will feature a $50,000 guarantee. Also, on Sunday at 5 p.m. a $175 No-Limit Hold’em All in or Fold Bounty carries a $10,000 guarantee.

Beginning the week of Monday, January 23, the schedule will feature several other mixed games, including a $350 H.O.R.S.E. event on Thursday, January 26 at 1 p.m.

On Wednesday, January 25 at 5 p.m. the first flight of the $350 No-Limit Hold’em begins and features a $300,000 guarantee. Additional flights will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 5 p.m.

The rest of the schedule in January and February will feature bigger buy-in events, such as a $570 Big O tournament on Thursday, February 2 at 5 p.m. and a $570 H.O.R.S.E. event on Friday, February 3 at 1 p.m.

An event you don’t see on very many schedules is the $1,100 2-7 Triple Draw. This event will take place on Wednesday, February 8 at 5 p.m.

The $10,000 WPT Championship will begin on Saturday, February 25 at 12 p.m. The series will end with the Championship final table taping on Thursday, March 2 at 4 p.m.

Follow all the action on Twitter @LAPC or at lapcnews.com

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

 

A Passion for Poker: Meet Hollywood Park Casino’s Ginger Lee by Patricia Chavira

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As I have written about before, women are underrepresented both at the poker tables and on the casino floor, so when I meet a woman who has both played poker and worked in a casino, I know I am talking to a very rare person indeed, and that special woman is Ginger Lee.

Ginger ended up in a card room like many women do—she tagged along with a friend. When she was a college student, she was asked if she would like to go to the Bike. She said yes thinking she was going to a bicycle shop.

Much to her surprise, she ended up at the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, California, one of the largest card rooms in the world. Little did she know that fateful decision would change her life.

When she was a waitress at a sushi bar, a customer who worked at Commerce Casino convinced her to apply for a job at the card room. In 1990, she learned to deal and passed her auditioned. She began working as a dealer but realized that to be a better dealer, she had to learn how to play poker, so she began playing after work.

Working With Poker Legends

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Linda Johnson, the First Lady of Poker

Ginger rose through the ranks being promoted to the tournament staff by her mentor Cheri Dokken, Commerce Casino’s tournament director for many years. She also had the privilege of working tournaments with legendary tournament directors Jack McClelland and Matt Savage.

Ginger began playing tournaments herself even meeting her future husband at the L.A. Poker Classic in 1992. She tells a funny story about registering another player for a tournament who never showed up. She didn’t want to be stuck for the buy-in, so she decided to play herself. It was her first No-Limit tournament. She ended up chopping it. Ginger is also a skilled 7-Card Stud player who has cashed in several stud tournaments.

In 2003, she dealt during the first season of the World Poker Tour to such poker luminaries as Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen. But the best part for her was working with her idol Linda Johnson, “The First Lady of Poker.”

After working at Commerce for 25 years, Ginger now works at Hollywood Park Casino as a shift manager with Director of Casino Operations Ramy Wahba. They worked together at Commerce for over 20 years.

Over her career, Ginger has learned that a casino’s success depends on customer service. As she says, “We are here because of the customer; we have to listen.”

With her passion for poker, you can be sure any casino that Ginger Lee works at is a place you want to play.

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.

 

 

California State Poker Championship Going Strong at Commerce Casino

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The California State Poker Championship is currently running at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, California. The series kicked off on Friday, April 29 with a $175 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Double Stack tournament featuring a $50,000 guarantee.

Matt Savage

Tournament Director Matt Savage always runs tournaments that feature a mix of games that appeal both to the professional and recreational player. Savage says, “The Commerce California State Poker Championship is an annual series with 20 events and guarantees in excess of $1,000,000 with great structures you’ve come to expect at the Commerce.”

Savage continues, “The Cal State series is a great way for you not only to build your summer bankroll but to play many of the games you don’t see in other venues.”

The California State Poker Championship is also a great lead up to the World Series of Poker. It’s always interesting to follow the winners of the California Championship and see how they do at the World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas this summer.

Paul Vinci

One such player to look out for is Paul Vinci, a familiar face on the Los Angeles poker scene. He won Event #8: $350 Pot Limit Omaha 8 or Better on May 3rd.  In 2014 he came in 5th in the same event.

Vinci is off to a great start in 2016. Back in January, he cashed in back-to-back tournaments at the prestigious Los Angeles Poker Classic (LAPC) at Commerce Casino. On January 20, he placed 7th in the $350 Stud 8 or Better, then came in 12th in the $350 Omaha 8 or Better/Stud8 or Better on January 21st.

His biggest score to date came in Event #19: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha at the 2005 WSOP where Vinci’s second place win was good for $70,680. Barry Greenstein won his second gold bracelet in that event.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Vinci started dealer school across the street from the Bicycle Club in 1993. He burst on the poker scene in 1995 with his first cash in the LAPC IV when he placed 6th in a $330 Lowball tournament.

That year he continued to cash in tournaments in a variety of poker variants from Seven-Card Stud to Omaha Hi/Lo leaving dealing behind forever. The fact that he is still winning and cashing in tournaments twenty years later is a testament to his skill. He is definitely one to watch.

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.

Omaha Poker: Best Places to Play in the West

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If you’re traveling to the western part of the United States and are ready to practice playing the game of Omaha in a live setting, here is a rundown of the action and where to play.

Many consider Los Angeles to be the center of the poker universe, and Commerce Casino, located about 30 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport, features the largest card room in the world and the best range of Omaha games and limits from which to choose.

Beginning with $4/$8 Omaha Hi/Lo (O8) games and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) with a $100-$300 buy-in all the way up to a $2,500 buy-in PLO game that is spread every day in the high limit section, the non-stop action at Commerce Casino makes it one of the top spots to play in the world.

Other Los Angeles-area casinos also spread Omaha daily. The Bicycle Casino located in Bell Gardens also features a $4/$8 Omaha Hi/Lo game and a mix game of Stud Hi/Lo and Omaha with a $20/$40 limit. A Pot Limit Omaha game is also offered on certain days. They also have a weekly Omaha tournament on Mondays.

The Garden Casino in Hawaiian Gardens offers a variety of games including $4/$8, $6/$12 Limit Omaha and also a Pot Limit Omaha game with a $100 to $300 buy-in. They have also added a Seven-Card Stud 8-or-Better mix game and will join Hollywood Park Casino and Commerce Casino in offering  a mix game at the $6/$12 limit.

My favorite place to play Omaha in Southern California is the Hollywood Park Casino located just minutes from the Los Angeles Airport. Their offerings include $4/$8 Omaha Hi/Lo, $6/$12 Big O (5-card Omaha), $40/$80 Omaha Hi/Lo and a $20/$40 mix Omaha and Stud Hi/Lo.

Hollywood Park also has added a high stakes PLO game. Hollywood Park Casino hosts a $60 buy-in $2,500 guarantee Big O tournament every Saturday at 3 p.m.

Several Native American casinos in Southern California offer limit Omaha. Pechanga Resort and Casino, the largest casino in California in Temecula, spreads a $3/$6 Big O game daily. Agua Caliente Casino near Palm Springs spreads a great $6/$12 Omaha Hi/Lo game.

Just outside Los Angeles, The Players Club in Ventura, California, offers small limit and pot limit Omaha games full of great action. Omaha on the West Coast is growing, and I predict the amount of games will double in the near future.

Las Vegas is a great place to play Omaha and has some legendary spots like the Orleans Hotel and Casino, which is famous for its low-limit Omaha games and large jackpots. If you need to build a bankroll, one of the best places to play is Boulder Station which features a $4/$8 limit Omaha high only game with some of the best action in Las Vegas. It seems like there are always six people going to the river.

For bigger action, the most consistent place to find it is at the Venetian Las Vegas, which features $4/$8 Omaha and $8/$16 Omaha along with $15/$30 and Pot Limit Omaha. Aria spreads Pot Limit Omaha daily, and Bellagio has some middle limit Omaha if requested.

As far as tournaments go, the LA Poker Classic running now through March 3, 2016, at Commerce Casino is a great place to try your hand at playing mixed games in a tournament setting. Tournament Director Matt Savage and his staff, including tournament coordinator Jeffrey King, have done a great job creating a new tournament schedule with less rebuy and less re-entry events.

The LAPC has a great mix of events that will appeal to both recreational and professional players. Several Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit H.O.R.S.E and other mixed games are featured. I was fortunate to play in several of these events.

Matt explained his philosophy this way: “I have always believed that there is much more to poker than just No Limit Hold’em, and I think it’s important to keep mixed games available not only to play but to introduce to the next generation of poker players.”

He continues, “The last thing I want as a player that loves mixed games is to see Limit Hold’em, Omaha/8, Stud/8, and Razz go the way of Lowball and Draw. I feel really fortunate to be the Tournament Director for a series like the LA Poker Classic where I can be creative with the schedule and even try new variations and games like No Limit H.O.R.S.E., Crazy Pineapple, and Triple Stud.”

I really like when casinos do things that put customers first like Commerce does, such as the Player of the Series with $25,000 added money and food vouchers for all tournament players.

The bottom line is Omaha and mixed games are becoming more mainstream in the Southern California poker scene. If you want to become a professional poker player, it’s time to master these games.

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 spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. 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.