In June, I wrote about playing at the Commerce Casino outside of Los Angeles. A couple of friends read it, heard me say that every poker player should try it at least once, and said they’d like to go with me sometime, so we made the trip this weekend.
Commerce continues to offer more games at all times of the day that anywhere else — outside of tournaments like the World Series Of Poker. There’s action 24/7 and, although there are lots of locals who are regulars, it gets its share of tourist players (like us), as well. The perks include a good comp rate while playing ($3/hour!), which essentially allows you to eat for free without leaving the game, with a varied menu of both American and Asian food that’s pretty good and remarkably low-priced. They’ll even custom make almost anything you want for any meal.
Since it rebuilt the hotel a few years ago, Commerce has shed its former reputation as kind of a dump. The room rate for anyone with a players card (free for the asking) is $159/night. Unlike almost all of the hotels in Vegas, there’s no “resort fee added for your convenience,” and Commerce will extend your late checkout until 2pm at no charge (you gotta pay for that privilege on The Strip).
One thing I find amusing in the Commerce hotel is that, when you wake up on your last morning, you find your bill has been printed and slid under your door. That’s so old-fashioned. I know it was standard for hotels to do this for decades, but in the digital age, it’s completely unnecessary — especially since they allow you to do mobile checkout on your phone, and then e-mail a copy of the bill to you. With that e-version, why not save a few trees and not make some low-level employee trudge through the place late every night to stick all of them under the doors of departing guests?
The only other complaint I have about the Commerce is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. You can’t walk around in the neighborhood because there isn’t one, and you’re a 30-60 minute drive from places you might want to visit in LA. Of course, traffic there is often so horrible that you won’t want to go anywhere near a freeway during rush hour — if you want to go to the beach, you should leave now — but if you must, Commerce offers a free car service (you just tip the driver $20 bucks and they’ll take you anywhere).
We had a driver take us from and to the airport, and I had one of them drive me when I went to meet my friend Mark Evanier for dinner and a show in West Hollywood.
The show was “The Black Version,” a semi-regular event with a half-dozen African-American improv performers — many of whom you’ve seen on “Mad TV” or lots of other TV shows — doing, via audience suggestions, an all-black version of a previously all-white movie. The night I was there, they did “Home Alone,” retitled by a woman in the crowd as “By Yo’ Self,” including impromptu songs like “At My Crib.” They (and the five-piece band that accompanies them) were really talented and funny. I laughed out loud several times and enjoyed myself througout. Mark has been several times to see them re-do “Thelma and Louise” and “Forrest Gump,” and written about them on his blog. If you’re going to LA, see if they’ll be onstage one night you’re there.
One last thing. If you’re playing no-limit Texas hold’em at Commerce and a guy with a reputation for bluffing moves all-in on you with an obvious flush, throw your aces away — unlike the idiot who was sitting in my seat, who called off his whole stack of chips, and then vacated the seat to go back up to his room and write this blog entry.