with the exception of some of the indian casinos like sycuan and barona, most of the casinos i've played in this trip are located very close to interstate highways. such is the case with crystal park casino and hotel, just off state route 91, between interstate routes 110 and 710, and you just can't miss it, unless you drive right past it like i did! :)
however, i managed to turn around and get back to the place. the decor of the cardroom is a bilious purple and green, but, hey! it's a casino! what do you expect? there aren't that many tables in this room - about 25 - and there's some kind of hold 'em tourney in progress. the room spreads 7-card stud at 2/4 and 3/6; hold 'em at 3/6 and 6/12; and omaha/8 at 3/6 and 6/12. there is a separate high-limit section, and i saw big name player robert turner in a 20/40 high-low stud/8 game.
the boardman carefully adjusts the rubber bands he uses for sleeve garters before he greets me. there's an interest list for 6/12 omaha/8, and i'm immediately seated at a 3/6 omaha/8 table. in a kill pot, the killer acts in turn. there is a button charge of $3. the room is rather quiet, except when they call down a new game. then chaos erupts! a couple people run to the new table to lock up seats, a couple wander over, and the floormen scurry to fill up the table with props (known locally as "house players"). although most props i've seen in the bay area wear prominent identification badges, the only way to identify props here (and at the normandie) is by noting that they always have lots of chips, including many of high denomination, and that they (almost) immediately go wherever they are told to go. i learn that props in this room are paid about $10 per hour.
they use the forward moving button rule in this room, and cash does not play at the lower limits. there's only one blind. i watched a 6/12 hold 'em game for a few minutes, and noted that they also only had one blind. the button collection at that game was also $3.
playable hands are few and far between. when i do pick up four cards i like, i raise, get six callers, and get nothing on the flop. ::::sigh:::: i waste a few hours in this place and book a small loss.
part 2 - "tiger's my name, and 7-stud's my game!"
the bicycle club is located just off interstate 710 at florence and eastern avenues in bell. self-parking leads you to the back entrance of the place. the bike is another very big club, and i had actually played in this place several times 'way back in 1989, when i was in los angeles for my "jeopardy!" appearance.
they offer stud at 4/8; hold 'em at 1/2, 2/4, 3/6, 6/12, and that screwy 9/18 game. omaha/8 is offered at 1/2 and 2/4. the high limit section offers stud at 15/30, 20/40, and higher; hold 'em at 15/30, 20/40, and 40/80; and 7-stud/8 at 20/40. there's actually a column for a combo game of 75/150 lowball - 50/100 hold 'em. other high limit games are not in progress. the cardroom has at least 100 tables, a dozen or so pan tables, and a separate room for asian games. they use speed chips here.
i am immediately accosted by boardman frank in the high limit section. i sign up for 15/30 stud, and since there's a list, i also sign up for 4/8 stud in the low limit section. there's an open seat at the only 4/8 stud table, which remains open for at least 15 minutes. before a floorman comes over to the table in response to my inquiry, i'm called for the 15/30. "lock it up!" $100 bills play in the high limit section.
at the commerce club, i was paying $7 per half hour at 15/30 stud. here, the time collection is $5, taken on the quarter-hour, when the dealers change. on my very first hand, i raise with split jacks, king kicker, in medium position with two aces on board. the second ace re-raises, and i call. i get my king on fourth street, and raise. he calls. i pair my door jack on fifth street, bet, and get called (uh oh....). he calls my bet on 6th street and raises me on the river. ugh. he was rolled up and filled on the end. ::::sigh::::
but the game is pretty good. however, when the two big winners leave, the texture of the game changes completely. we play short-handed for some time, and i decide i want a meal. it takes me 15 minutes to get a menu, and another 15 minutes to get a server to take my order. the explanation is that they were changing shifts. ::::sigh:::: however, food in the high limit section is free, and my dinner isn't bad, at all! my table remains short-handed, and we are plagued by walkers. at long last, the table fills. almost immediately, several of the new players put a lot of pressure on the rest of the table to change the game to 30/60. after several minutes of this, i pipe up: "look, guys. there's at least one little fat guy in the #3 seat [that's me, gang] who doesn't want to play 30/60. enough, already!"
a few minutes later, a man wearing a light blue jacket asks me to step away from the table for a moment. it turns out that this is jeff craig, whose actual title is "coordinator of business development" but who's real job is all-around trouble-shooter. he's good at it, too. :) he's seen me taking notes, and he's heard my comment. jeff is a personable man, in his 40s, gray hair, blue eyes, glasses, not much taller than i am, with a medium build. he thinks that i look familiar. after a few minutes, we exchange pedigrees, and we probably did play together in vegas back in the '80s. jeff reassures me that he'll be able to fill the 15/30 game if he cranks up a new 30/60, and he proves it, too!
but the game remains full only for about 45 minutes or so. two players leave, two players are short-stacked, and one guy is still walking. i've made a couple hands, i'm up a rack-and-a-half of yellows ($5), and i stand up to book the most successful session i've had on this trip. :D
as i'm about to cash out, jeff comes over to say goodbye. it seems that he knows that one of his regular players is a lurker at rgp. and it also seems that jeff has checked me out with his regular, who has confirmed that this "tiger" is for real! unfortunately, the lurker (robert?) had already left, and i didn't get a chance to meet him. :( and nobody won a jacket at the bike.
tomorrow morning, i start what may be the final leg of my trip. i'm heading for the san francisco bay area, where i'll be for at least four or five days.