I spent the pre-Christmas holiday in California on business. Landed at LAX around 2 PM on Tuesday. After we landed, I convinced my better half to visit Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood. Wow, the traffic is horrible. The casino is not far from LAX, but the constant red lights at every intersection, combined with molasses-like traffic and a wrong turn, due to construction messing with the GPS, meant it took an hour to get the Hollywood Park Casino.
That’s L.A. traffic, although, it’s not as bad as New York traffic.
Christmas in California is not like the rest of the country. Even in late December, it’s ‘shorts and t-shirt’ weather.
Make no mistake, though. It was Christmas, and you could tell by the decorations in the casino.
Hollywood Park Casino is a California style player-banked casino. Buses bring in players from all over the Los Angeles area.
The casino is very nice, with nice touches to draw in the affluent gambler.
The casino is not allowed to bank, rather, the casino earns its’ money by charging a fee every hand. The fee is $1 per hand per $100, and is paid as an ante. So if the player wants to bet $200, the ante is $2. This ante is paid per hand regardless of the outcome. If the player wins, loses, or pushes the fee is still paid. It’s a bit frustrating to score a 21 and then have the ‘dealer’ tie. Well, you didn’t lose the hand, but you lost the ante.
Table games are the usual casino games, but with twists, such as No Bust Blackjack and player banked baccarat and Pai Gow Poker.
There are no games that use dice or balls, such as craps or roulette. Hollywood Park did not have card craps.
If the player chooses to bank, the banking player must also pay a flat $3 ante.
The player banking issue is quite interesting. Even though the game is player banked, the actual players rarely, if ever bank. At each table, there is a ‘player’ who is clearly marked as an employee of a ‘corporation’, who acts as the banker. This ‘player’ has a large amount of chips and is not playing with their own personal money, allegedly.
From my observation, the corporation was making money hand over fist. If the players would have followed optimal strategy, the players would have an advantage of .56% before the ante (citation from Wizard of Odds). Most players played horribly, thus giving an edge to the corporation player.
I’m not going to go into details of the ‘corporation’ or the rules of the game. That’s a report, in and of itself. If you want to know about the rules and how the corporation works, read this: https://wizardofodds.com/games/california-blackjack/
I sat down at a blackjack table and asked to bank. The ‘corporate’ player threw up a fit and started saying passive aggressive things to me. I argued back and said that according to the rules, I have a right to bank. I found it strange that in a ‘player’ banked casino, no players were banking, while an alleged ‘non-profit’ corporation would pay a player to bank every hand, then when I asked to bank, I was given resistance.
Same thing happened at the baccarat table when I asked to bank. I was given push back and passive aggressive looks from the corporate player and dealer.
The California card rooms are currently facing a lawsuit from the Native American tribes who run their own casinos. From what I saw and experienced, the card rooms are effectively banking their own games by deploying a loophole and intimidating players from banking.
If you live near the area, and you insist on getting your gambling fix, it’s worth a trip. Just be sure that you know the rules of the game very well, or else you will be at a severe disadvantage. It’s not worth a flight across the country, or even from another city. There are better gaming options at the Native American casinos.