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Guide to the LA Poker Classic

Commerce Casino
EdmondDantes The Commerce Casino
6131 East Telegraph Road
Commerce, CA 90040
(323) 721-2100

click to enlarge the image

The Los Angeles Poker Classic

Ok, you’re shaking off the holiday hangover and skimming over that list of resolutions. Let’s be honest, the only one you’ve got any shot of keeping is “Play more tournaments.” Well, there’s good news. You don’t have to travel to some god-forsaken part of the world to bang heads with MTT superstars like Bond18 or A_Junglen at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne, Adanthar at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City or even Landlord79 at the World Poker Open in Tunica. No, in fact, some of the juiciest tournaments on the planet are right here in Southern California.

The Bike, the Hustler, Hollywood Park and Pechanga all have events during the first couple of weeks of January, but the must-play series you need to put on your calendar right now is the LA Poker Classic held at the Commerce Casino.

click to enlarge the image

The LAPC is a six-week string of events running from January 24th until March 3rd. The $10,000 Championship event (starting February 23rd) is one of the premier events on the WPT calendar and usually sets the momentum for the coming poker year. That’s right, fellas…it's a World Poker Tour/Game Show Network televised event. Make no mistake, you’re playing for money AND glory at the LAPC.

In our, well ok…my opinion, the LAPC events feature the biggest and softest fields you’ll find within 20 minutes of a decent restaurant and warm weather beach. Last year’s prize pools totaled over $16 million and the competition is roughly equivalent to that you’d find in a home game circa 1995. Sure, there are some first-rate players, but for every guy who knows what he’s doing, there’s half a dozen C-list celebs, Asian crazies or dudes holding a voice recorder who don’t. Oh, and when they bust out…they head straight to the cash games to pay your 2008 rent. It’s beautiful.

Still not convinced? Consider this. Yours truly, easily the worst tournament player on this site, has cashed in LAPC events. And I deserved to. Are you hearing me? Book a flight, order sturdy money counter from Staples and get your butt over to the Commerce to PLAY THESE EVENTS. Your bankroll will thank you. Seriously.

The Schedule and Structures

Here’s the schedule with the number of entrants and approximate prize pools in the comparable 2007 event.

LAPC 2008 events

As you can see from the chart, almost every event had a pretty good turnout in 2007. Good god, man, even the stud events had over 100 entrants! Prize money for the series totaled almost $16.5 million. It’s easily the richest series of poker events in California. Note: if you click on the event name link, you can see the structure for that event.

The majority of events are NL freezeouts with buy-ins of $330, $545, $1065, $2595 and $10,000. There are also limit, 7-card stud, Omaha hi/lo, 7-card stud hi/lo events and several special NL event—a 6-handed Turbo (20 min level) event that promises to be chaotic, a Shoot-out event, a couple of re-buy events and our favorite, a Tag Team event held on Valentine’s Day.

Now lakong would probably prefer to spend his $545 on third row seats to see Barry Manilow at the Staples Center, but, to me, I think the Tag Team NL event is the better play. What, you’re going to spend $500 on some overpriced, prix fixe dinner and an outfit she’ll wear once? I say drag her to the final table and create memories to cherish for a lifetime. Trust me, nothing say romance like a nice his and her stack of hundreds.

The series culminates in a $10K multi-day, WPT-televised event which has drawn increasing numbers in each of the last five years. When Gus Hansen won the event in 2003 (WPT Season 1), there were only 136 entrants. Last year, there were almost 6 times as many entrants (791) with $2 million guaranteed to the winner and $1 million to the runner-up. No word yet on what the first and second prizes will look like, but the paycheck will definitely put you ahead of budget for 2008. Past winners include Ferguson (pre-TV), Hansen, Esfandiari, Mizrachi et al. And anybody who is anybody has made the final table…Bloch, Pham, Stupak, Vinh, Gazes, Schoenfeld, Benyamine, Forrest, Lindgren, Tran, etc.

Most daily events start at 3:30p but note that the Championship event starts at 12:30p. All events will be held in the tournament room on the 2nd floor up the wide staircase by the valet entrance.


For those of us short-stackers, there are single table satellites for tournament chips running continuously starting January 7, 2008 at 11a. You can see the range of buy-ins and structure here.

Single table satellites

In addition, starting January 24th, there are super satellites every night (except Jan 31st and Feb 22nd) with a $220 buy-in and multiple re-buys starting at 7p. You can see the structure for those little free-for-alls here.

Nightly satellites

Finally, January 31 (Thursday) and February 22 (Friday) are Special Super Sat Days with satellites at 11:30a and 6:30p. Note: the evening events typically draw a bigger field. You can see the structure for those satellites here.

Super Satellite structures

Away game for you? No problem!

We realized not everyone’s as good with staying focused around beautiful weather, hot women and free money as we are, so here are a few tips to make your LAPC trip a bit less stressful.

Getting there

The Commerce Casino is roughly equidistant from Los Angeles airport (23 miles), Burbank airport (22 miles) and Long Beach airport (20 miles). The John Wayne/Orange Count airport is more of a hike (31 miles) and San Diego airport’s at least a 2-hour run without traffic, with traffic…forget it.

If you have a choice, consider Burbank and Long Beach as alternatives to LAX. Burbank to Commerce is almost a straight shot down the 5 freeway, and Southwest flies to/from Burbank airport. Similarly, the Commerce is a quick drive up the 710N from Long Beach airport and JetBlue flies into Long Beach.

If you’re driving…use the Google map feature here. Just give yourself time around rush hour. The Commerce is directly off the 5 freeway, a major N/S thoroughfare in LA. It can be easy to get there off-peak, but during rush hour, it’s tough sledding.

Where to stay

The Commerce has a nice hotel on its property, the Crowne Plaza. Unfortunately, the 200 rooms are usually sold out during the LAPC so your best bet is to try one of the other local hotels.

For quality of service, your first choice should be the Wyndham Gardens aka the Doubletree Hotel Commerce, located at the Citadel Shops, a huge outlet mall up the street. The hotel is within walking distance (couple of minutes) of the Commerce. Further away but within 10 minutes or so of the casino, you’ll find

Ramada Inn – Commerce

Ramada Inn – South El Monte

Norwalk Marriott - Norwalk

Best Western – Montebello Plaza

Any of these hotels are decent for sleeping and showering, but you should manage your expectations. There’s not much else to do in any of these areas.

If you want a hotel with more amenities or off-casino entertainment, consider staying near LAX or the beach communities (Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach). You can find good, inexpensive accommodations within a mile or so of the beach and other shopping, dining areas. Remember, too, if you’re looking for sun and women, it’s LA…head for the beach!

Wherever you’re staying, you can either drive in and park at the Commerce (valet’s $2, not including tip) or arrange a courtesy shuttle. If you need a ride, just call the casino and ask for the floor shift supervisor. If you give them some notice and tell them the game or event you’re playing, they’ll usually send a shuttle for you. Even better, if you’re staying with a group of other guys, coordinate to come in at the same time and the Commerce will definitely send a car to pick you up.

Miscellaneous stuff

A player card is required for entry into all the tournaments. You can get one at the tournament sign-up area on the 2nd floor or from Player Relations.

If you want to wire entry fees in, you can find the info here. Wire instructions

Past trip reports

If you’re curious about the Commerce NL games, you can read my recent trip report here. With pics!

Commerce NL tournament area and cash games

And here’s another tournament trip report and look at the tournament area. Again, with pics!

California State Poker Championships

All right, that's all I've got for now. Seriously, if you happen to like money, you NEED to play the LAPC events. Why grind in front of the computer all year like you did in 2007, when you can lock up a year's worth of earn by the end of Feb and spend the rest of the year chillin' on the beach?

See you in all but the Ladies event!



lakong says

Barry Manilow? Debi would divorce me if I offered up Manilow seats on Valentine's Day. She's more of a OneRepublic, Crank That kind of girl. Nice write-up. You said it best. If Ed can cash, anyone can cash! See you at the Commerce.


lakeoffire says

Cya there!


Anonymous says

If I can SATT in, I will be there.


Mr_Taterhead says

Oh Mandy!!!! That was a nice write up.

Can't wait to make it out to LA.


josie (Anonymous) says

OMG my bf wants to play a 2 day tournament this weekend!! how many ppl r going to play??? I gotta know if its worth it!!

by the way im sure he can take all of u peeps out!! haha


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