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.

Gardena: Poker Capital of the World

facebook_1461345592678 (1)Robert Turner as part of Larry Flynt’s  Original Hustler Casino Management Team

The Normandie Casino has been rumored to be an acquisition of the Hustler Casino by Larry Flynt. If this happens, the Gardena poker legacy will be gone, and all that will be left is one corporation controlling the remaining two.

Poker was started in Gardena in 1936 by legendary card club owners Ernie Primm and Russ Miller, the patriarch of the Miller family who owns the Normandie Casino.

The six clubs of poker that made up the Gardena landscape are now just a memory, and if Larry Flynt takes over the Normandie Casino, the last of the original six, a poker era will varnish forever.

As I reflect back, it has occurred to me that I managed four of the six casinos in Gardena, a small city ten miles outside Downtown Los Angeles. When poker boomed in California with the legalization of Hold’em around 1986, many characters came out to play in Gardena, including myself.

A Storied History: The Horseshoe Club

Horseshoe Club Gardena

Some were very famous for their play while others were notorious for having a shady past like Shoeshine Nick. Legendary poker author Mike Caro was also part of Gardena history.

Caro recalls of that time, “Old Gardena was a poker garden where money grew, but there was also treachery, and you had to avoid the cheating. You dealt your own cards, which was fine, but so did they, and there was always danger.”

Caro continues, “The producer — weak players who provided you profit — came, and many went broke or disappeared. But along came new producers, so you survived. It was five-card draw, high or low, and the draw could determine your fate for now. But there was always tomorrow. So, we won.”

“Gardena called itself the Poker Capital of the World. And it really was,” Caro concludes.

I agree with him. When I was General Manager of the Horseshoe Club in 1986, I had many problems to solve including rampant cheating, which I solved with stationary dealers. Before that, each player took turns dealing, which led to mechanics and teams plying their trade at the expense of the producers.

Some of the problems I had to deal with at the Horseshoe not only had to do with the players but also involved the owners. One day I discovered a security guard in the count room area taking chips out of the drop boxes.

After an investigation, it was determined that one of the owners had given him the key. That particular owner was the general partner of the casino; I knew my days were numbered there. The casino was sold, and my contract was bought out. It was closed for remodeling, and it never reopened.

Poker Legends in Gardena

Huck Seed

1996 WSOP Main Event Winner Huck Seed

 

But while I worked there, I added new games, such as seven-card stud and Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), which was spread in California for the first time at the Horseshoe. These games attracted the best poker players in the world. Regulars in these games were Freddie Deeb, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan.

Hellmuth would fly into Los Angeles, take a taxi to Gardena to play PLO and sometimes he would go broke and turn right around. The first time I met World Series of Poker Main Event winner Huck Seed was in Gardena. He was playing $15/$30 Limit Hold’em and was a consistent winner, who showed greatness even at that time.

The first World Championship of Omaha was played in Gardena at the Horseshoe. It featured a $500 buy-in, and people came from all over the country to play.

I left Gardena for nine years while I managed other clubs, such as the Regency, the Bicycle Club and Hollywood Park Casino. I returned to Gardena in 2000 to open Hustler Casino with Larry Flynt as his executive host in charge of the house players and, of course, promoting Omaha.

Eric Drache and Yosh Nakano created a huge stud game hosted by Larry Flynt himself at the Hustler with great players from all over the world. Regulars in that game included a who’s who of poker royalty—Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, Thor Hansen and Danny Robison.

In 2006, I was hired as the poker manager of Normandie Casino. I remember Mike Sexton roasting me for my sixtieth birthday and referring to my Horseshoe days in 1986. He said, “Robert Turner came a long way in his poker career—right across the street.”

At one time, the Horseshoe was located right across the street from the Normandie Casino. It is pretty funny that after twenty years I had come right back to where I started, the other side of the street.

Today the Normandie is facing some serious fines and legal issues, so passing the torch to Larry Flynt may be their best opportunity.

Only time will tell where Larry Flynt takes Gardena, the former poker capital of the world. He owns it all now.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create 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. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.