To many, Commerce Casino is the world’s capital of poker. You won’t find a more active poker room in the world than what you will see at Commerce. Located just outside the major city of Los Angeles, Commerce attracts players of every limit and for every game type imaginable. It is a traditional California style card room, but the poker floor is what it is most well known for. On any given night, players will have 100+, often times close to 200, games to choose from. This does not even count all of the other table games also offered at the casino, nor the fact that there is a hotel on site which on its own is fairly unique to California casinos.
If you are visiting Commerce expecting to encounter a typical Las Vegas casino, you should probably reconsider your expectations. Unfortunately you will be subjected to the same fees and rules that other CA card rooms are required to implement. Instead of profiting from their inherent house edge, Commerce Casino profits based on volume of play. You will pay $1 per $100 wagered ($1 for $100 bets, $2 for $200 bets, and so on), and this means an additional fee for side and bonus bets. Beyond this, there is no roulette, craps, or machine games whatsoever.
Does this mean you can’t have fun at this casino? Of course not, but it will come at a cost much higher than what you would find in a “normal” casino. It is also worth noting that drinks are not comped at Commerce, but they are not comped at any California casinos due to state laws, whether they are card rooms or full casinos on Indian territory.
Commerce’s location is what benefits it most. Unlike more remote or harder to reach destinations, Commerce is just a few minutes from Downtown LA. With this comes many tourists and local residents alike that call themselves regulars at the casino. There is also a lot of poker room competition in the area, from The Bike, (Bicycle Casino), Hustler, The Gardens Casino (formerly Hawaiian Gardens), and other smaller casinos. This combination of factors makes LA the world’s poker capital, but there are a few downsides. With all of that said, if you are a poker player, you will find Commerce to be about as good as it gets when it comes to poker rooms.
Casino at Commerce
The non-poker casino table games are located in between the high limit poker room and the main poker floor. If you walk in from the main entrance where valet or the hotel entrance are, you will see the high limit poker room first, to your left. If you walk straight forward, you will see a bar in the corner to your right. Directly across from this bar sits the casino table games section. You will see a large, seemingly endless ocean of games available. The regular casino games at Commerce are typical for California card rooms and include blackjack (California style, of course), baccarat (the most popular game here with a large Asian contingent in the area), pai gow, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and three card poker.
As mentioned above, this is not the “best” choice when it comes to pure casino games, but it is also just about the only choice unless you are willing to travel further south, where Harrah’s Southern California (and others) offer a full, complete casino experience with roulette, craps, and all of the machines you would expect to find in a casino, including slots and video poker. To maximize your edge and reduce your disadvantage in these games, you should bet as near to the maximum of the bracketed tiers. This requires you to bett $100 or $200 and not $50 or $175. That means the $1 fee will only increase the house edge by just 1% as opposed to 10% if you are playing $10/hand and paying an additional $1 on each of these wagers.
Make no mistake about it, for the majority of Commerce visitors the casino is not the main attraction; it is the poker room. With that said, it can be a fun night with friends, especially if your friends are not avid or experienced gamblers and will be able to have fun even in spite of the fees they will need to pay in order to simply play. If you are wondering, the actual losses at the table go to an outside company that is hired by the casino to play against the actual patrons. The casino is profiting from your wagers only, so there is no break the casino situation at play here (even though this will never happen regardless, but you can put that dream aside entirely at most California casinos).
It is worth noting that there is also a racebook at Commerce Casino. Horse bettors will find this to be an attractive action, especially when considering that most card rooms do not have this available. Off track betting is available from races around the country and world. The area can become quite crowded during big events, and all wagering on horse racing at Commerce is parimutuel, as is standard for the majority of the United States casinos. There is no sports betting available at Commerce, however.
Poker Room at Commerce
The poker room at Commerce Casino is something that is truly amazing, especially to a long time poker player who has visited many rooms. On most days, especially in the evenings, you will see 100+ games running with many names on waiting lists. This is beneficial to everyone involved. Not only are there a lot of games to choose from, but the structures and limits vary greatly which ensures that there is something for every player. You will see limit games with mountains of $1 and $2 chips and high limit games where white ($100) chips are most frequently in action. No matter the game type or buy in size, if Commerce Casino doesn’t have it, you are unlikely to find it anywhere else.
Poker Room Sections
There are two different main sections of the poker room(s) in Commerce. The high limit games run next to the casino games area and can be found near the main entrance, adjacent to the hotel lobby area. In here there will typically be anywhere from a handful to 20 games running. The lowest form of No Limit game that runs in this section is $10/$20 which has a minimum buy in of $600 and no maximum buy in amount. Smaller games are found on the main floor which is about 25 yards away from the high limit area. Take a few steps past the cafe and you will not miss the sea of tables and players in front of you.
The games here range from small $2/$4 limit Texas Hold’em games to larger $5/$5 (usually with $10 rock) PLO games. The $5/$10 NLHE games are also run in this section and include a maximum buy in of $1,500. The buy in structures are well formatted at Commerce and ensure that different limits are not stealing players from each other. For this reason, you will see less crossover between the $5/$10 and $10/$20 games, for example, than you would find in many other casinos that are able to run both of these limits at once.
Player Pool, Rake and Jackpots in the Poker Room
The player pool for the poker games at Commerce is virtually unending. If you play here a few times, you will undoubtedly start to recognize a few familiar faces, but there are always new players joining the games. In our opinion, Commerce has some of the best consistent action available anywhere in the world, let alone just in California. This is a prerequisite to the room’s success, of course, since the slightly higher rake and rules for when rake is taken would otherwise make the game much less attractive. Where rake may be capped at $4 in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, it is capped at $6+$1 for the jackpot/promotions at Commerce. This definitely adds up over time.
With that said, the bad beat jackpots and promotions at Commerce are much easier to win, so your chance of getting some of your repeated $1 investments is not that small. The staff at WCI has personally seen many bad beat jackpots won during their visits. The qualification, Aces full, losing, makes it easier to hit the BBJ than what it’d be at other casinos where the requirement may be quad 7’s (or higher) losing). This doesn’t mean you should expect to win, of course, and the jackpots, accordingly, do not usually exceed the $50k-$75k range.
The games themselves at Commerce are quite beatable. Yes, the rake is higher than at many other casinos around the country, but the games have more money and a larger dose of hyper active players than other casinos as well. You have to take the good with the bad in this situation, and there is a lot more good than bad. As you increase limits, the rake will become both less and more of a factor. In the $10/$20 game, the rake is a time charge, and is an almost unbelievable $18/per half hour. For comparison, most other casinos would charge around $6-$7 per half hour for a game of this limit, so this is a solid 250% increase, but this is just the cost of doing business, especially in an area like Los Angeles where everything tends to be a bit more than the rest of the country.
Poker Tournaments at Commerce
Tournaments are another major part of the poker scene at Commerce. Throughout the year, a number of different series run at the casino, with event buy ins ranging from the $100 range to thousands of dollars. The LAPC (LA Poker Classic) is followed by the L.A. Poker Open in terms of popularity and attendance, with the California State Poker Championship and and The Commerce Poker Series also being popular series at this venue.
Even though tournaments are not the primary attraction when it comes to poker at Commerce, there are also daily events that run at the casino. These tournaments that have buy ins ranging from $65 to $150 and run twice per day, with one event usually starting at noon and the other starting at 6pm. The guarantees are expectedly small for these events, and the rake will make it somewhat difficult to be a long term winner in these. Expect to see a lot of the same recreational level players in these tournaments if you decide to play them on a regular basis.
As is the case with just about every casino, the large player pools for these tournaments in turn create a more significant number of cash games. Take advantage of this influx of games with more action by visiting Commerce when these series are taking place. If you think the games are normally good, and they are, you will be happy to find that the action tends to be that much better when tourney players are filling up the cash game seats as well.
Dining and Bars at Commerce
Commerce has a number of food options to choose from. The top options are the Asian Noodle Bar (a casino staple) and Arena Sports Bar & Grill (located in the corner of the table gaming area and the only other full sit down restaurant option), If you are in a hurry, the best option will be the Commerce Cafe, located right near the steps down to the main poker room floor. The food here is quick, fairly priced, and can be taken to go, though there are also tables located by the poker desk if you would like to have a seat at a table.
In addition to these actual restaurant options, Commerce Casino allows players to order and eat food at the table they are playing at. Commerce has very fair pricing on their menu and the service tends to be very quick. Most food options include choice of (non-alcoholic) drink and most options are in the range of $10 or even less.
Be sure to take advantage of any promotions that may be running at Commerce. For example, the casino has, in the past, given away one free meal every 24 hours to players. All you have to do is make a quick stop at the poker desk by the main floor and ask what promotions are currently running. If there are no food options, there may be another active promo that you can take advantage of.
Hotel at Commerce
The hotel at Commerce is a Crowne Plaza. The building itself sticks out much more than your average casino because of the size of the hotel. Until recently, Commerce was the only casino with a reliable hotel option on site, but The Bike (a few miles down the road) now has a new hotel as well. Commerce, for the time being, is the more economical of the two options.
If you are playing at Commerce and want to stay at the hotel, you should ask a floor man for the poker room rate. As an active player, you will be entitled to a ~$150 poker room, which is virtually always a significant discount over the listed prices at hotel booking websites. Of course, you should always compare before booking a room.
Hotel Quality and Pricing
The hotel and rooms themselves are of ample quality. They are certainly better than many of the surrounding options, and would fall in line with what you would expect from a mid-range 4 star hotel. For the price and especially the convenience, the Crowne Plaza at Commerce is a wise investment. In addition, if you are driving, valet parking is available for $2 or $5, depending on where you would like your car parked, as well as a full car wash option.
If you do not want to stay at the Commerce hotel or are unable to book a room, there are many hotel options in the surrounding area. Be careful to read reviews as some of the neighborhoods around the City of Commerce are not the best. With that said, depending on day of the week and time of the year, you may be able to find a very good deal on rooms at other properties. You may lose some convenience, but you will likely save a decent amount of money.
Nearby Casinos: Hollywood Park