Having a namesake befitting to its owner’s past, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino has been a Los Angeles staple for decades. It is not located in the best area of town, nor does it offer anywhere near the highest level of service or atmosphere, but it does manage to retain a steady flow of visitors. If you are an avid, experienced gambler, you will likely be put off by this card room. It is a typical California room, and that primarily applies to its negative attributes.
Larry Flynt does not exactly have a choir boy reputation, and his casino in Gardena, California (about 20 minutes from Downtown LA, depending on the traffic) is in line with this history. The feigned classiness will waft over you as you walk in. Tacky gold decorations will set the tone for this casino, which is really just a pretend casino, seeing as it is only a card room in reality.
When you first visit Hustler Casino, we do recommend that you make a players card. The reward program at Hustler is called “Platinum Rewards.” If you are a table games player, this card will be effectively useless to you, as nothing will generally be comped. If you play poker, however, you may be eligible for recurring promotions or hourly rating. Nevertheless, since it only takes a minute, we do advise all new players at Hustler to have a card made.
The casino is entirely underwhelming, and we mean this in just about every way possible. The layout is poor, many games are frequently not running, the limits available are illogical, the high limit room is frequently unoccupied and non-operational, and so on and so forth. As a table games player, our best advice is to avoid this “casino” altogether. If you really, really want to play in LA, we suggest either Hollywood Park, The Gardens, or Commerce, but even then, your best bet is to make the drive to a real casino like those found a bit more south. Yes, you will need to drive a bit more, but it is completely worth the added effort.
It is hard to determine where to start with the downsides of the Hustler Casino’s table games operation. The dealers are mediocre at absolute best, the floor people can be a combination of rude and inattentive, and the “promotions” and rules in place are the closest thing to outright robbery. If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with promo chips as a result of being a new player or any other reason, please contain your excitement. You will quickly be disappointed to learn that these promo chips are hardly chips at all. Many restrictions are placed on these promo chips, including paying a fee to use them, limited amounts used per hand, not being able to break them down, not getting chips back on winning hands, and the list goes on.
It is fair to say that the chips are worth, maybe, 25% of their printed value. Do not be enticed by promos at Hustler Casino if promotional chips are the selling point. The promo chips here are very much a bait and switch, especially when compared to how those same chips are typically distributed and utilized at actual casinos like those in Las Vegas.
The rules and the fees in the Hustler Casino are fairly comparable to most other standard California card rooms. You will be charged $1 per bet, bracketed in $100s. You will be charged to place side bets, and as mentioned above, you will even be charged for the privilege of using your promotional chips. Great promo, right?
Given that the dealer does not stand on 17s, a never ending shuffler is used, and you are getting paid 6-5 on blackjacks, this game should be considered outright unbeatable. The house edge is so large in this game that any significant, or even moderate sample size will all but certainly eliminate your ability to win. The odds are so stacked against you between bad rules and extreme fees that winning is a mathematical near impossibility. Yes, you could come in, bet large amounts for a few hands and walk away a sizeable winner, but it is highly unlikely that you will post a win over the duration of a long session due to the fees and the house edge against you. We do not recommend playing casino table games here for these reasons, but also because you are quite likely to have a poor experience.
Our visits to Hustler included dealers attempting to take away our chips on hands where we either pushed or won; on other occasions we were told untrue rules by dealers and floor people alike. We had to argue to get correct rulings on what should be very basic rules, such as when surrendering was allowed at BJ. This level of service is unacceptable anywhere, but it is even more inexcusable when players are being subjected to such large fees just for the chance to play a game in which they have a negative expectation.
Poker started out as arguably the main attraction at Hustler Casino when it first opened in 2000. Much of this was due to Larry Flynt’s reputation as a poker player and host who ran very large, high stakes poker cash games. Over time, however, other rooms in LA have earned the majority of high stakes poker action. With that said, Hustler does still have an active poker room.
Cash games and tournaments are both available at Hustler. While not known for hosting large buy-in events or major poker series, there are smaller tournaments that run at Hustler. If you are primarily an MTT player, we encourage you to call in order to find out what is currently on the schedule.
For cash game players, Hustler has a selection of both limit and no-limit games to choose from. Yes, the rake is high, but that is par for the course in California poker rooms.
Generally speaking, Hustler Casino is a low to mid-stakes poker room. The largest no-limit game is usually the $5/$5 NLHE with a max buy-in of $1,000. While this can provide a decent bit of action, you will need to play at a different casino if you are looking for actual high stakes poker action in the Los Angeles area.
There is a happy hour at Hustler, but we were advised that it was $1-$2 off already severely overpriced drinks. In the words of a Hustler Casino bartender, “there isn’t really ever a deal here.” We will give them credit for being fairly prompt on the service. Waitresses stop serving well before the legally required 2am mark, and you will be accosted for your glass if you still have one at the table.
The walk-up bar (ideal if you do not want to wait on a phantom waitress) is located on the perimeter of the layout. If you are strolling around the casino, it will be impossible to miss.
The prices for the drinks are definitely high, but they are roughly in line with that of other area card rooms. You will find that Los Angeles card rooms have a recurring theme of weak drinks and high prices. This is unlikely to change unless licensing makes actual competition a possibility among these rooms.
Hustler Casino is not the place to go for a gourmet meal. You will find a bar and grill that is not open 24 hours a day, as well as a few snack shops. There is no steakhouse or otherwise noteworthy dining accommodations at Hustler Casino. If you are hungry, or plan to be hungry during your visit, we suggest stopping somewhere beforehand or waiting until you leave. Don’t consider that your meal will be paid for either, as your losses and/or play volume are unlikely to have any bearing on your eligibility for comps of any type.
We will give Hustler small props for its attempt at creating promotions. As a general rule of thumb, promotions at CA card rooms tend to be very weak, especially for table games players. Since promos themselves are frequently changing, we suggest you check here to find what is currently being offered.
New players do get promo chips, though they come with a number of caveats as mentioned above. Beyond this, the majority of promotions at Hustler are built and designed for their poker players.
The location of Hustler Casino is less than ideal, and that may be putting it lightly. The clientele at Hustler may make you feel (justifiably) uneasy. It is not uncommon to have players asking for money or to have players angrily arguing with the dealers or other players. If you are looking for a classy scene, this is probably not the place for you.
Geographically, Hustler Casino has a fairly decent location. This is primarily because it is located near Los Angeles which provides a bevy of travel and lodging options. There is no hotel on premises (which is common for California card rooms), but there is no shortage of nearby hotels to choose from.