By Sean Chaffin
The World Poker Tour rolls back into the Los Angeles area in January for the second-ever Main Tour stop at the Gardens Casino. The WPT Gardens Poker Championship kicks off the new poker year and runs January 12-16 featuring a $10,000 buy-in that should make for a hefty prize pool.
The casino’s first event, the $5,000 Gardens Poker Festival, was held in July to kick off Season XVII and attracted 584 entries. Simon Lam took home the title and $565,055 as well as a new Mercedes. The Gardens is now adding to that with a second stop.
The property has held a WPT500 event in the past, and now tournament manager Cavin Quintanilla (pictured) is happy to see the Main Tour heading to the poker room for two stops each season. He’s excited about the partnership with the tour and bringing two signature events to the Gardens.
“We’re like opening day in baseball season,” he says. “And then we’ll also be the first tour stop in 2019 in January, which is the first televised event this year.”
New Facility, Plenty of Action
With the casino now a regular stop on the Main Tour, Quintanilla believes it gives players a chance to see what his team has going on at the property. The casino underwent a $90 million renovation in 2016 and was hailed by many in the industry for its top-notch atmosphere and amenities.
Not only will the tournament be televised, but will be the first in which those players making the final table will be flown to Las Vegas in March to play to a winner at HyperX Esports Arena inside Luxor Hotel and Casino.
Beyond the Gardens tournament series itself, which featured numerous other preliminary events with buy-ins ranging from $110 to $25,500, the Gardens has a vibrant cash game scene.
“One of the best things about the Gardens Casino is the cash games,” Quintanilla says. “It’s one of those things people don’t realize because it’s one of the best-kept secrets in poker. With the new facility, now people have started to really pay attention and now we’re bringing in bigger events.”
Players can expect a comfortable environment with a main poker floor that features 100 cash games tables. The separate tournament room features 45 more tables, and the VIP room features 39 more tables.
Quintanilla notes: “Our VIP room features more tables than most Vegas poker room.”
Rec Poker Paradise
An average day at the Gardens may feature 60 cash games or more with daily tournaments and sit and go’s running. Those feature a range of buy-ins and the cash games offer stakes for every bankroll from $1,000/$3,000 No Limit Hold’em all the way down to $2/$3 and $4/$8 Limit Hold’em. Most daily tournaments feature at least a $5,000 guarantee.
“There’s action 24/7,” he says. “That’s one of those things that we want people to know about. We’ve got something for every bankroll and run more daily tournaments and higher guarantees than any other Southern California casino. For a rec player, I call it a ‘year-round poker paradise.’”
The venue features more than 220 flat-screen TVs so players for catching the latest games while playing. Televised poker action is featured as well as every imaginable game on the NFL Ticket or NFL League Pass.
The Gardens has also become an official WPT-branded poker room, the first of its kind. The tour logo and insignia is a major part of the venue and its partnership with the WPT.
The Gardens goes out of its way to provide plenty of bang for the tournament buck. The property hosts a regular Satellite Spectacular, a month-long promotion where tournament players earn points for registering, cashing, sit and gos, and more.
At the end of December, the property then runs a $20 tournament for all those who earned points. The more points a player accumulated, the more points he started within the tournament. For those who finished in the top four spots, the November promotion awarded a buy-in and hotel stay at Bellagio for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
“We’re doing it in December just for one month for players with a minimum of five points, and we’re going to give [away seats] to our Gardens event,” Quintanilla says.
The WPT Satellite Spectacular III, which is set to start January 17, will be offering players another shot another upcoming WPT event. With so much going on in the coming months, the Gardens offers plenty of opportunities for players looking for a good time and a chance to play in style.
For more on the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, click here. For a complete schedule of all Gardens Poker Championship event, click here.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.