Commerce Casino - the L.A.p of Luxury

The Commerce Casino, which opened in 1983, and the adjoining Crowne Plaza Hotel, is in a class of its own in Southern California. The grandeur of the hotel's Assyrian/Babylonian motif exterior (seen on the cover) catches one's eye when driving along Interstate 5, south of Los Angeles. The carved spires adorning the roof around the hotel entrance are especially breathtaking when lit up at night. Once you enter the casino, the opulence of the gaming floor, with the larger than life-sized Ben Hur-esque chariot and horses and the Sphinx-like statues that adorn the main entrance along with the crystal chandeliers hanging from the two-story-high vaulted ceilings.

Vice-President and Casino Manager Jeff Harris, supervises over 2,800 employees in the self-proclaimed “Poker Capital of the World.” As such, it has a huge reputation to live up to. The Commerce bills itself as the world's largest poker room, and with 91,694 sq. ft. (not counting the upstairs convention center rooms that convert to poker rooms for tournament play during their major events), it would be hard to find one larger.

 

CASH RING GAMES

When it comes to poker games, the Commerce has them all, with buy-ins ranging from $1 - $2 to $500 - $1,000 and No-Limit Hold‘em with buy-ins ranging from a low of $40 to $400 (with restricted re-buys). They also offer no cap games with $600 and $2,000 buy-ins. During the time when tournaments are at the Commerce, games can grow to rival the “Big Game” in Las Vegas with $50,000 to $100,000 buy-ins. If enough players opt for it, they also provide Seven-Card Stud and Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo; Pot-Limit Omaha and Omaha High-Low; Razz; Lowball; Pot Limit; Mexican Poker; Pineapple; Five-Card Stud; Five-Card Draw and Low-Ball with limits ranging through all levels.

The California Games area offers No Bust Blackjack, Three-Card Poker, Caribbean Stud and 21st Century Baccarat. The Commerce Casino also has the state’s largest pavilion catering to Asian specialty games. The 13-Card (Chinese) Poker, Super Pan-9, Pai-Gow Poker, Pai-Gow Tiles and Joker’s Wild Pai-Gow with limits as high as $1,000 - $5,000.

However, the Commerce does not limit itself to offering the widest variety and largest number of ring games. They provide a full daily tournament schedule for wallets of all sizes. They host No-Limit Texas Hold’em Tournaments twice daily, with up to $20,000 in guaranteed prize pools. Poker is not the only game in town with tournament action. There are Super-9, Pai-Gow Poker and EZ Baccarat Tournament with up to a $10,000 Guaranteed prize pool.

 

MAJOR TOURNAMENTS

For those with bigger financial dreams dancing in their heads, the Commerce Casino also plays host to some of the biggest tournaments in the country.  The Commerce's premier event is the annual L.A. Poker Classic. The $10,000 buy-in Main Event will again be part of the televised World Poker Tour (WPT) series, with an expected $20 million prize pool. With the Commerce Casino being so close to Hollywood, it is only natural that they host one of the most exciting tournaments on the poker circuit. The Invitational brings together Tinsel Town’s A-list, top pros and amateurs who obtained their invitations through special tournaments or by paying as much as $10,000 for their seat through charity auctions and tournaments. These players enjoy a fun-filled three-day tournament, with the final six playing before a television audience for $200,000 and a seat at the WPT $25,000 Championship at stake.

The Commerce becomes the center of California’s poker world when they annually host the California State Poker Championship. The California State Poker Championship typically draws not only the best of the West, but it also draws many of the world's best. One notable former winner is actor Ben Affleck who moved from celebrity player to respected poker player status by capturing the 2006 tournament.

The third major event held each year is Commerce Hold'em Series held each fall. What separates this event from all of the others is that it is an 'All Hold'em, All the Time' tournament series. The 2011 series features 17 different Texas Hold'em tournaments.

The final major poker event of the year is the Los Angeles Poker Open, held in late fall. With a prize pool estimated at over a million dollars, it again brings out not only Southern California's best poker players, but those from all over the country. With 18 events spread over eighteen days, there is a tournament format and entry level for every player.

The specific event schedules for each of the four major tournaments can be found at the Commerce Casino's website (http://commercecasino.com/tournaments.aspx). Any of the information provided in this article on ring games limits and jackpots, as well as Daily Tournament schedules can always change. It is always best to call the casino at (323) 721-2100 ahead of time to verify times and buy-ins.

 

CCUP

Another aspect of the casino unrivaled elsewhere in the poker community is the Commerce Casino's University of Poker. The CCUP presents weekly basic and intermediate classes for the existing home game, online, or casino poker player who may have learned the game from the ground up, but is tired of being ground up and wants to improve their results or go to the next level. The course takes the approach that learning how to play poker well will make your visit to the casino a more enjoyable (and profitable) experience. The university's professor is the highly acclaimed poker comedian Roger Rodd, Hollywood's "Instructor to the Stars."

The Basic Course is taught on Tuesdays, while the Intermediate Courses are held on Wednesdays. The courses are based on a three week cycle,  with Level 1 the first week, Level 2 the second week and on the third week they offer a special free tournament with cash and prizes, that allows students to bring what they learned to the table in a fun, no-risk environment. No honest poker instructor should guarantee to make any person a winning poker player, but they do guarantee that Roger will teach you exactly what skills it takes to become one.

DINING AND LODGING

Not only are the gaming rooms top of the line, so are the restaurants. The hotels’ new Executive Chef, Robert Phillips, insures that the food throughout the casino is up to his exacting standards. A graduate of the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America, Chef Phillips arrives at Commerce Casino after his five-year tenure as Executive Chef of USC Hospitality Services. Phillips also “dabbles” in the art of ice sculpture, having traveled to Alaska to expand his skills.  By mastering his hobby, he brings your ice dreams to a fabulous reality.

The casino boasts a wide range of eateries that can satisfy any player’s epicurean desires. The Arena Sports Bar displays live sporting events on multiple large screens, allowing gamers the ability to relax. Drink and eat in comfort and style. It has an eclectic menu ranging from pizza and sandwiches, steaks, prime rib and pork chops, to fine oriental and Mexican specialties. The one “cannot miss” item at the Arena is their famous crispy potato chips. The chips are made fresh in-house daily and are served with a spicy aioli dip, brought fresh to each table by the courteous wait staff. A new addition to the menu is the Friday and Saturday Midnight Munchies buffet, featuring hot dogs, fries, and hot wings.

For players wanting a quick bite, not a sit-down meal, The Tropical Island Snack Bar offers quick and tasty meals for a lighter fare. The Tropical Island offers doughnuts, Starbucks Coffee, hot dogs, sandwiches and a variety of other snacks. Quick service and tasty treats distinguish this little snack bar as a truly tasteful convenience. The same kitchens that offer such fine sit down dining also offers a well-appointed gaming table-side menu, so you do not have to miss a hand to find sustenance while you keep on playing.

To allow a Los Angeles casino to compete with the best casino complexes in Las Vegas, the Commerce Casino needed a quality lodging option to complement the largest poker room and the great eateries. The Crowne Plaza Hotel tower was an exciting addition to the casino in 2001. The sweeping Assyrian/Babylonian-themed entry was created by famed Flamingo Hotel and Rose Parade Float designer Raul Rodriquez. The Hotel was recently designated Best Hotel of the Year by Crowne Plaza.

The decor showcases the hotel's impressive art collection and magnificent statues. The hotel is landscaped throughout with imported plants, palm trees and tropical flowers. The shaded walkways and cascading waterfalls allow guests to encounter picturesque vistas within an exotic ambiance. The Crowne Plaza features 200 well appointed deluxe guest rooms and suites. The rooms feature fully stocked mini bars, three telephones and available high-speed internet connection. Along with the typical bathing amenities, the mesh bag with ear plugs, night mask and lavender sheet spray are better than a chocolate on the pillow. As an added bonus, some of the deluxe rooms offer Jacuzzi-style baths to further your enjoyment. Rooms on the Priority Club floors offer a private lobby lounge with complimentary continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. The room service menu offers items taken from the best kitchens of the casino's exquisite restaurants. Retail shops, specializing in men's and women's clothing, gifts and personal accessories, are located conveniently on the lobby level.

The upscale Manhattan Deli Restaurant & Bakery (formerly the Stakes steakhouse) is located conveniently in the Lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The restaurant, which leases the space from the casino, offers hearty burgers, huge New York style deli sandwiches and sweet temptations such as freshly baked cakes and ice cream sundaes.

Though one can get a strenuous workout just walking from the guest rooms through the California Game room to the Poker Room, the Crowne Hotel's The Spa, a day spa and beauty salon is the perfect place to visit after a long day on the tables. The fitness facility, pool and sundeck are part of the full-service, 10,000 square foot spa. The recently remodeled two story facility features a hair salon, nail salon, luxurious treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas, cold therapy baths, tranquility rooms, relaxation lounges, locker rooms, dressing areas, spa cuisine and outdoor eating area. For your comfort and convenience, they provide you with a robe and slippers, as well as a changing room locker. Both the hotel and casino entrances offer either self-service parking or valet parking.

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