I’m still here in the City of Angels getting my grind on at the infamous Commerce Casino. Been making efforts to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle by getting some exercise each day before sitting on my ass for a dozen hours, but it can be a problem sometimes when my schedule is so messed up. The game is not as good as it was during the holidays, but there is still lots of pocket-lining potential after tweaking my leaks and making conscious efforts to develop my play.
A player made an interesting observation about the city of L.A. the other day. He was from out-of-town and commented about the weird “energy” that was at the Commerce, which I have since reflected on. The casino itself is in an industrial and predominently Spanish-speaking town about 15 minutes from downtown L.A. It is the world’s largest poker casino with over 200+ tables split into two main sections and with services you’d find at any high-end gambling facility, but it feels more like a chaotic sports arena rather than a high-roller’s joint. The players vary from complete noobs to bracelet-holding pros, and casual players consisting of fratboys to celebs and strippers. The tables are crammed into a grid with little room to maneuvre in between, which can make it difficult when there is a heirarchy of floorpersons, chiprunners, servers, porters, cocktail waitresses, masseuses, Blimpberry girls, candy girls, and railbirds fighting for legroom. The atmosphere is further characterized by a dizzying spectrum of noises from these parties with competing interests, so one can imagine that it can be more difficult than other places to stay goal-oriented. Ah, but it is a place that tests true character.
My friend Tri has been consistently encouraging me to work hard for the next 6 months after cramming some numbers, and he put my situation quite bluntly into perspective: I can either focus tirelessly for the next little while and accumulate an income equal to the top 5% of Canadian earners, or I could let my mind and eyes wander off and be distracted by the naturally temptation-inducing L.A. lifestyle as a young person. Q also constantly warns me of the common mistake of many poker players to get caught-up with too much partying in the city after moving there and being forced to return home. I will not let this happen so long as I still want to play. Yes, I do miss the unequivocal VIP treatment from my home casino and not feeling like I’m being thrown into a ring of ravenous vultures everytime I step into the pit, but I am stepping up and thinking long-term.
Sometimes I surprise myself thinking about how much I’ve changed since I was a punkass teenager. I’ve recently been experimenting with an ultra-aggressive gear that seems to instigate confrontation from dumb players. Well, dumb people would be more accurate. As I was trying to extract information when faced with a strange river bet as the preflop aggressor in a pot against a guy who was taking my style as a personal attack, this annoying girl who was attempting to flirt with everyone at the table started ranting about how I was taking a long time and directed a series of rude comments at me instead of simply calling time. I gave in to the pressure and folded my hand as the donk villain turned over a bluff. At this point, I confronted her rude behaviour and lack of etiquette, and the argument became quite heated as crowds were drawn. If this was years ago, I would not have hesitated to kick her ass to Beijing, and for the most part, I am proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did. I felt especially blessed when Tri came over to my table and started wrecking havoc by antagonizing the bitch and taking everyone out of their poker comfort zone (what he does incredibly well). Unfortunatly he lost to a rivered 1-outer (quads over boat) after putting her exactly where he wanted, but that did nothing to undermine the kind gesture just the same. I think it’s called the tranference of negative energy or something? lol. He ended up sucking out all the anger from me and took the burden instead.
My observation of L.A. based on my experiences thus far, is that this city is very spoiled and often ungrateful. The people are blessed with an amazing climate and fingertip access to the finest things in the world, and yet they appear to be bitter and unappreciative. It is also often depressing to watch the flock of older immigrants who appear to be the hardest workers in the casino with the general maintenance labour they do, but who also get paid the least since their line of duty does not include hustling for tips. As I have made myself familiar with the gratuity system here, I find myself creating excuses to tip these people and reward considerate behaviour from all the staff. I think it’s the little things that count. There is also a drastic difference between the mentality of a selfish employee and that of a benevolent one which can be observed in this simple illustration: after finishing my meal, I put a tip to the side of the table symbolizing that it can be cleared. A selfish floorperson who already hustles for tips comes over when he sees the coin and just pushes the table to the side while pocketing the money (it is not his job to clear tables), while on another occasion an infinitely more compassionate worker will call over a porter (who do all the dirty work) so he can work for that dollar instead. Perhaps example B was simply doing his job, but after seeing what he could have done, I was touched and tipped him as well.
I really hope I won’t turn into a bitch, but so far it appears that you need mighty thick skin to make it out here.