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Poker Room Review: Casino Morongo, Cabazon, CA

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Casino Morongo is a huge casino with a towering hotel, a nightclub with top-level performers, great restaurants, and a spa. But that’s not what drew me to this place. I took the drive from Palm Springs because I had heard that it was a room with crazy action. I was not disappointed; it was well worth the hour round trip.

Part of the reason for the vibrancy is surely the 18-year-old age limit, as the place is often full of “kids”. Many poker purists don’t like the rammin’ jammin’ style that young players bring to the game, but I think it’s good for poker – and enjoyed seeing it on display when I played at Morongo. My $1/3 no-limit hold’em table had, when I sat down, six players under the age of 21 – four of whom seemed hell bent on pushing all of their chips into the pot nearly every chance they had. I played for about three hours, during which two of the players reloaded half a dozen times or more. For me, a relatively careful player, it was poker heaven.

There are three poker games that go nearly all of the time at Morongo. There’s the $1/3 no-limit game that I played in, with a $40 minimum and a $200 maximum buy-in. There’s a bigger game as well, a $2/5 blind, $200 minimum (and no maximum) buy-in. And there’s the $3/6 limit hold’em game. They also get Omaha much of the time (but rarely, if ever, stud).

There are 22 tables, though they rarely fill them all, not having enough dealers. This was one of the frustrations that some of the players voiced while I was there. They have all of these tables but they often have long waiting lists for games because of not having enough dealers. The poker tables seat nine players, not ten – and they won’t squeeze in a tenth seat even for a normally persuasive tourist like myself. I had to wait 30 minutes early on a Tuesday afternoon before a seat opened up at one of the three tables they had going.

The room is a very nice place to play, with plenty of space between tables and firm, clean felts, each with a simple Morongo logo and a commitment line. The chairs are moderately comfortable, with more padding than typical banquet chairs, but with neither wheels nor seat adjustment mechanisms. There’s a high ceiling, no smoking, and the place generally seems to be run in an orderly fashion. This is especially important because of what seemed to me to be the large number of relatively inexperienced, drinking patrons.

Tournaments are often very full, and those interested in playing in them should arrive well before their scheduled start times. The tournament schedule, as of today, is as follows:

Monday: 10:00 AM, 5-card Omaha ($30);
Tuesday: 10:00 AM, No Limit Hold’em ($30), 7:00 PM, No Limit Hold’em ($55); Wednesday: 10:00 AM, No Limit Hold’em ($30), 7:00 P.M. ($55 w/ $10 rebuys and $20 Add-on);
Thursday: 10:00 AM Limit Hold’em ($30), 7:00 P.M. No Limit Hold’em ($40);
Friday: 10:00 AM No Limit Hold’em ($40);
Saturday: 11:00 AM No Limit Hold’em ($50);
Sunday: 11:00 AM No Limit Hold’em ($5 with $10 re-buys and $20 add-on).

The room also holds larger monthly tournaments.

Morongo has numerous promotions such as “rack attack” where $100 is added to the pot at one table chosen randomly every hour, high hand promotions of $100/hour, and a primary and secondary bad beat jackpot that is doubled during certain hours in the day. These are funded with a jackpot drop of $2. The pot is also raked – with $3 coming right out of the blinds. At my $1/3 blind game, when I raised pre-flop with a pair of kings, everyone dropped (uncharacteristically) and I ended up with only $1 profit.

There is tableside drink service. Non-alcoholic drinks are free, but as in all California poker rooms, you have to pay for the alcohol. The theory, perhaps, is that the house shouldn’t be encouraging its patrons to drink while they gamble. But at Morongo, I didn’t see any players needing encouragement, with many gladly shelling out a few bucks every ten minutes or so for another beer.

If you are looking for a sedate, laid back, relaxed room, with older, careful and relative tight players, I’d recommend one of the rooms in Palm Springs. But if you like wild and inexperienced players, in a pleasant atmosphere, this is a great place to play poker.

Casino Morongo
49500 Seminole Drive
Cabazon, CA

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