The child, visiting from Hollywood, agreed to dog sit tonight. H and I headed to Hawaiian Gardens, home of a nearby poker casino.
We had a nice time and I’ll tell you all about it, but I’m not going to mention dollar amounts. We’re not playing the rent money. Just a fun date night.
Now the name: Hawaiian Gardens.
Hawaiian Gardens is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. It is the smallest city in the county and was incorporated on April 9, 1964. The population was 14,254 at the 2010 census, down from 14,779 at the 2000 census.
It is my understanding there are no schools in Hawaiian Gardens. For that reason it’s a magnet for sexual offenders who can’t live just anywhere. If that’s wrong, please someone tell me and I’ll correct it. My info comes from a former news director who used to work in LA.
The casino itself is owned by a physician who’s turned out to be an adept businessman and conservative political backer. The casino is not Native American owned. He’s actually from my tribe.
The place has lots of long time employees, usually a good sign. Like much of SoCal this place is a mini UN. A large percentage of both dealers and patrons are of Asian ancestry, but every color and ethnic background is represented.
Until recently Hawaiian Gardens Casino was in two large permanent tents. It had no charm. It was shabby. The place was a patchwork that had evolved seemingly without a plan.
A few months ago they opened a brand new two story structure in what was once a parking lot. It’s really very nice. Comfortable chairs. Good service.
Poker is different from every other casino game. In poker it’s player against player. The casino has no interest in who wins. They make their money taking a few dollars from each pot, the rake.
The cards you get are purely luck. But poker’s really not a card game. A significant percentage of pots are won with no cards shown at all! It’s a betting game. That’s what draws players. It’s a game of strategy and risk.
Most poker players stay for hours. Stacks of chips ebb and flow. With dozens of tables playing simultaneously the sound of chips is constant.
Tables are divided by buy-in amount. You get seated by a floor person who tries to keep the games balanced with players. I took out my money and a runner traded my bills for chips.
Cash games like this are table stakes. What you have on the table is what plays. If you win, that additional money stays on the table until you leave. You can’t pull out more to back a strong hand. You can call a bet larger than what you have by going all-in. All bets are made in chips.
I folded the first hand, but played the second. I made an ace high flush, ended up all-in and doubled my chip stack.
Not too long after that I was dealt two 4s. Two more 4s came on the flop, meaning I had quad 4s. It turns out those 4s ended up helping two other players get full houses. They were both all-in in front of me — a hand I knew I couldn’t lose.
By this time there were four times as many chips in front of me and I was hungry!
I was also amazed.
These were beautifully hidden hands against players who had cards they expected to win. I have some skill, but this was incredibly good luck.
The casino only makes money when you play, so they bring food to the table. And because of the international clientele there are four or five separate ethnic pages on the menu for Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. I had pepper steak and shrimp with rice, a salad and soda for $10. Actually $2, because I had points from prior trips.
I would recommend Hawaiian Gardens just for the food. It’s seriously tasty every time.
The night continued to go well until I flopped a full house and ended up against a player with a much smaller stack going all-in. When all-in both players turn over their cards, so we’re pretty much bystanders at this point.
Three cards, the flop, were showing. Each of our two cards were also showing. That left 45 unknown cards. Only two would save him. The dealer turned over the first, then the second. Ouch.
Helaine and I play separately. She was a few tables away. She’s the better player. She is much more disciplined. Both of us play what’s called tight aggressive style.
She also did very well nearly tripling her buy-in. I had around six and a half times mine as we strolled to the cage to cash out.
As you can imagine it was a very nice drive home.