Calirfornia Cardroom

What is a California Cardroom?

California cardrooms have evolved from the old western saloons of the Barbary Coast to modern casinos while keeping the basic idea that players have the chance to play card games against each other.

California Cardroom History

In the old west, saloons had card tables where players could play card games against each other, with the players taking turns being the dealer.  The California Grand Casino has been offering games like this since it was a Pony Express Stop in the 1850s.

In 1872, California prohibited “banked” card games, usually understood to mean games where the players play against the house. For more than 100 years after that, regulation of cardrooms was left to local governments.  At one point, there were over 300 card rooms operating in the state.

In the early 1980s, cardrooms also began to offer non-banked versions of card games such as Pai Gow Poker, which was invented at a cardroom in Los Angeles.  In these games, players could take turns playing the dealer hand against the other players. While casinos of the type operating in Nevada and New Jersey are not allowed in California, the California courts determined that these “player-dealer” games where the players can wager against each other are legal.  As a result, a unique structure took shape in California.   The cardrooms supply the dealer, tables, chips and cards.  And at least every two hands, the player-dealer position is offered to a different player.  There also are independently owned companies whose employees take the player-dealer position when it’s offered.  But every player at the table still has the right to take the player-dealer position and bet against all the other players. In 1997, the Gambling Control Act was adopted, which created the California Gambling Control Commission to regulate California cardrooms and it now also regulates these third party companies.

Today cardrooms exist in a special place for most Californians.  The laws create a fun, competitive gaming atmosphere that is separate and distinct from a casino.  As one player who travelled from out of state said: “At first, I thought it was strange having the dealer position offered around, but when I realized I could bet on the dealer hand and enjoy the odds, I loved it.”

What’s The Difference Between a California Card room and a Casino?

Unlike tribal or commercial casinos, cardrooms do not offer slot machines or video poker.  But in addition to poker and Texas Hold’Em, they offer cardroom versions of newer card games like Blackjack, Baccarat, Three Card Poker and Pai Gow Poker.  In these games, each person has the opportunity to wager on the dealer hand against the other players, rather than betting against the house.

How Many Card rooms are there in California?

There are 66 cardrooms operating in California ranging in size from one table to nearly 300 tables, offering many of the same games played all over the world, and hosting tournaments and events.

When you arrive at the California Grand Casino, we’ll greet you, ask you what game you want to play, and help you find a seat.  We can explain the games to you.

New players also receive special bonuses.  If you want to play poker, you can buy in for $20 and receive $50 in chips.  For the player-dealer games, you will receive Four $10 Match Play Chips and $10 in free food on your first visit, with the same again when you return a second time.  You can take both the poker and Match Play bonuses on your first visit.  Come in and see why the California Grand Casino has been voted best casino in the East Bay for seven years in a row.


Poker table with cards


The old gambling saloons of the Barbary Coast played a French game called “Vingt Et Un” or “21” which gave every advantage to the dealer.   The dealer could require the players to double their wagers after  the dealer saw his or her first card.  The dealer could decide whether to stand, hit or split after seeing how each player hand was completed.  The dealer could even collect quadruple payouts from the players if the dealer had a 21.  The dealer won all ties, which added to the dealer edge.  The players could not double down.   All the strategy decisions belonged to the dealer.  Understandably, the French game proved unpopular.

Casinos later developed the American game “Blackjack,” where the dealer had no discretion and the players could make the strategy decisions including, hitting, doubling down and splitting after seeing the dealer’s first card.  There are now hundreds of variations of Blackjack with different rule sets and odds played all over the world.

At the California Grand Casino, we offer the newer and more player-friendly “Hot Action Blackjack:” blackjack with better action and better odds than Vegas.  We add Jokers to the deck for more winning hands and more payouts for players.  The Jokers count as 12 or 2.  Players win more easily when Jokers appear, and players don’t bust at 22 if the dealer also has a 22.  

  • Players win 4 times their wager if their first two cards are Jokers.  (“Natural 24”)
  • Players win 2 times their wager if their first two cards are suited Aces.  (“Natural 22”)
  • If the Player and the Dealer both have a Natural 24 or Natural 22, the Player still wins.
  • Players are paid 6:5 for any Blackjack unless the Dealer also has Blackjack.
  • A Player 22 is not a bust if the Dealer also has a 22.

We also offer the Buster Blackjack Bonus Bet, which allows you to wager on the Dealer going bust.   You can win up to 200 times your bonus wager.  And with the added Jokers, there is more opportunity for dealer busts that pay more.

Unlike Nevada Casinos or Indian Casinos, at the California Grand Casino you also can wager on the dealer hand against all the other players.  The Las Vegas Casinos and Indian Casinos would never let you do that. At the California Grand Casino, there are more ways to Play and Win.

Girl with two cards


Now that you have seen the other players look at their starting hands, the flop is your next opportunity for information.  As tempted as you might be to watch the dealer put out the cards for the flop, turn and river, it can be far more profitable to watch the other players watch the dealer put out the cards, especially the pre-flop raiser and any players who act after you. 

You are looking for some of the same poker tells we talked about in our first article about Pre-flop poker tells, but now your initial focus is on the other players’ reaction to the board. Do they stare at the board trying to make sense of it or do they look at the flop quickly and then look away because they connected (just as pre-flop a player with a good hand will look at their hand quickly then put it down)? Are they touching their chips? Are they shaking their heads or did they talk because they just can’t get any luck or help? Are they relaxed or tight when and after they bet? Are any of the players acting differently than normal?

Think about how long they take to act.  In no limit Texas Hold ‘Em, a value bettor on the river may take more time determining whether to bet and how much.  A bluffer may act faster.  While pausing may be a sign of a value bet, someone who checks slowly at any point may want you to think they have a stronger hand than they do and needed more time to decide.  However, in limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker many players find less reason to be deceptive and these indicators can change.  A quick bet may be stronger.  A quick call may indicate a drawing hand or a weak kicker.

Also pay attention to how your opponents place their poker chips in the pot when betting and calling.  Do they count out the chips deliberately?  Do they drop a pile out haphazardly, or place them down carefully.  How much force do they use to put the chips down?  For some players excess force when betting can indicate a bluff.  Regardless, you are looking for a relationship between how they act and what hands they show.

Lastly, remember to consider the players who have already folded their cards.  If two 5s come on the flop and a player who folded pre-flop grunts or makes a face, they may have folded one of the remaining 5s.  You can use this tell to narrow your opponent’s range. 

For example, suppose in a no-limit game, you open the betting from late position with a pair of 8s.  The small blind, a loose player who checks and calls, is the only caller.  The flop comes 6-6-9.  The small blind checks, you bet a little more than half the pot, and he calls. The turn is a 9 and you see another player who already folded make a face and turn away.  You suspect that player folded  a 9.  The small blind checks and you check back.  The river is an 8.  The small blind checks, you bet and the small blind immediately shoves all in for 5 times the size of the pot. 

Well, the small blind clearly has a hand.  He usually folds on the river when he misses, but here he quickly shoved.  If he thought you were bluffing or he had only a straight, he may have paused longer before he folded or called. 

So with this board there are a few possible strong hands: quad 9s, quad 6s, and full houses: 9s over 6s, 9s over 8s, 8s over 6s, 6s over 9s or 6s over 8s.  You have the fifth best of these hands.  Your first thought might be that you are in danger, but then you start running through his possible hands.  You are pretty sure another player folded a 9, so that rules out quad 9s.  That also means that the chances of 9s over 8s or 6s is less since there is only one 9 not accounted for.  So even though there are four hands that beat you, the odds of the small blind having a six is higher than the odds of him having two 6s or one 9.  You put this information together with your read of the small blind’s play , then you call.  The small blind turns over a K 6 suited. 

Don’t forget to watch the other players, even the ones who already folded.  Players who have already folded generally aren’t trying to hide anything, and you may get a good read on what they folded which will help you narrow your opponent’s range.  When you are playing Hold ‘Em every bit of information can help.  The California Grand Casino is a great place to improve your poker play and win in the Bay Area.

Table with chips in the casino



Often when you are out of position and check after the flop the player who took the lead pre-flop will bet into you.  You think “should I call or fold?”  One thing that separates good players from beginners is their willingness to take aggressive action when the situation warrants it.  You should consider also asking yourself  “should I raise” even if your hand doesn’t immediately warrant it.  You may end up raising as a bluff or semi-bluff.

Suppose pre-flop you are in early position with Q J of diamonds.  You limped or made a small raise pre-flop only to have a solid player in middle position raise or re-raise, which you called.  You go into the flop heads up.  When the flop comes 10, 8, 4 rainbow with one diamond, you have a backdoor flush draw, a straight draw and two overcards.  You check. 

The pre-flop raiser bets and you think you are behind but before folding you pause to consider the odds of calling to see if one of your draws improves.  At first, you don’t think about raising.   But as you start to put your opponent on a hand, you consider whether his bet is a continuation bet with overcards (probably stronger overcards than yours) or whether he is protecting a pair or better.  You know that pairs are less common for starting hands than his other possible hands, like AK – AJ, all of which missed the flop.  Even if he has a pair it might be an under pair and the 10 on the flop may make him nervous and ready to give up, although he may wonder why you didn’t bet it after the flop. Given how he has played, you think he probably did not raise with an unpaired 10 pre-flop so maybe it’s time to think about check-raising.

Check-raising is a very strong move in poker, and sends a clear message that you think you are ahead.  By check-raising you are putting a great deal of pressure on your opponent to decide whether continuing with the hand makes sense.  They have to consider not only the chips needed to call, but what may happen after the turn, when you possibly bet again.  You also have to consider your own table image in calculating the odds of whether they will believe your check-raise is strong and fold.  You will have to make the same calculations after the turn if they call your check-raise.  Of course, if you check-raise and get re-raised you will know where you stand.  In addition, if you do check-raise here and then give up your hand to a re-raise, next time you check-raise with a monster, you may get called or re-raised.

One thing to consider when check-raising as a bluff or semi-bluff is how much money you will have left in your stack after the raise.  You must be careful check-raising when short-stacked.  Without the threat of more bets to come your bluff will be less powerful, and you may find yourself committed to the pot with a marginal hand.

So while in most cases I would fold in this situation and not continue to play this hand out of position, if you think you have a good read on your opponent, check-raising can be the right move.

Poker table with cards


Our Pai Gow (Double-Hand) Poker game is fun and exciting to play.  In our Pai Gow Poker game, the Joker is fully wild — it can be any card — and can be used to make any hand, not just as an Ace or to complete straights or flushes, giving you more ways to make a winning hand.  You can also wager on the Dealer hand and have the advantage of playing against all the other players.


You separate your 7 cards into a 2-card and a 5-card poker hand. Your 5-card hand must outrank your 2-card hand. Your 2-card hand plays against the Dealer 2-card hand and your 5-card hand plays against the Dealer 5-card hand. The object of the game is to set your hands so that both your hands defeat both the Dealer’s hands.  The hands are ranked using standard poker hand rankings, i.e., straight flushes, 4 of a kind, a full house, flush, straight, two pair etc…

If both your hands rank higher than the Dealer’s two hands, you win. If you win one hand and the Dealer wins one hand, you push, which happens about 40% of the time.  If the Dealer wins both hands, the Dealer wins. It’s that easy!  

The Dealer wins any 2 or 5-card hands that tie. This is a built-in advantage for the Dealer hand but at the California Grand Casino every player gets a chance to bet on the Dealer hand.


You are often dealt hands that can be set in different ways. If you want to increase the odds of a push, you might set one hand very strong and the other weaker, or you might try to balance your hands in order to win both. The most common decision you make is when you are dealt two pair.  When should you put both pair in the 5-card hand, and when should you split the pairs and put one in each hand?  In addition, since we play with a fully wild Joker, how does that change how you set your hands?

Don’t want to set your hand?  We can set it “house way.”

At the California Grand Casino, you also can ask the house dealer how to set your hand the house way and you will stay almost even playing this way.  The Dealer hand is always set house way, but the player betting on the Dealer hand can reset the hand another way. 

Setting Your Hands: Both Hands are Equally Important

If you set your own hands, because you need both hands to win in order to win your wager, you should never neglect your 2-card hand.  A simple rule to remember is that ideally you would like to have an Ace high or better in your 2-card hand.  And you would like at least of pair of 7s in your 5-card hand. 

Here are a few specific situations, including advice on how to play your Joker.  At any time you can ask the dealer for advice.

  • Five of a Kind. Put the Joker with the highest single card in the 2-card hand, and keep four of a kind in the 5-card hand.
  • Four of a Kind (with a Joker). If these are fives or lower, keep them together. Otherwise put the Joker with the highest single card in the 2-card hand, and keep three of a kind in the 5-card hand.
  • Four of a Kind (No Joker). Keep them together if these are fives or lower. If you have an Ace or King to put in the 2-card hand, you can also keep nines and higher together, except if these are Queens or better, in which case you are usually better off splitting them.
  • Full House. Put your highest possible pair in the 2-card hand and three of a kind in the 5-card hand. If you have four of a kind and a pair or three of a kind and two pair, put the three of a kind, full house or four of a kind in the 5-card hand.
  • Flush or Straight. Keep your flush or straight together, unless you also have two pairs or three of a kind, in which case you should follow the rules for three of a kind or two pairs. If you have one pair, keep the flush or straight in the 5-card hand and split the pair.
  • If you have a six or seven card flush or straight, put the lower cards that make the flush or straight in your 5-card hand and the highest cards in the 2-card hand.
  • If you need your Joker for the straight or flush, put the two highest cards in the 2-card hand that will still leave a flush or straight in the 5-card hand. If you make the straight or flush without the Joker, use the Joker to make the highest possible pair in the 2-card hand and keep the flush or straight in the 5-card hand.
  • Three of a Kind. Keep them in the 5-card hand unless they are Aces in which case you put a pair in your 5-card hand and one Ace in the 2-card hand. If you have a Joker, play your Joker with the highest other card in the 2-card hand. If you also have a straight or flush, then put that in the 5-card hand and a pair in the 2-card hand.
  • Three Pairs. If you get three pairs, the best pair should be used for the 2-card hand and the other two pairs should be in the 5-card hand. If you also have a Joker, keep it with the 5-card hand to make a full house.
  • Pair. Put the pair in the 5-card hand and the highest two other cards in the 2-card hand. If you are using a Joker to make a pair, play the first and third highest cards in the 2-card hand and use the Joker with the second highest card to make a pair for the 5-card hand. If you have a natural pair and a Joker, match the Joker with the highest other card and follow the guidelines for two pair.
  • Pai Gow / No Pair. If you do not have a pair or better, put the highest card in your 5-card hand and the second and third best cards in your 2-card hand.

Setting Two Pairs.

There are several ways to play two pairs depending on whether you are trying to push or win.

  • House Way.  If the highest pair is AA, KK or QQ, place that in the 5-card hand and the other pair in the 2-card hand.  If the highest pair is JJ, 10s or 9s, split them unless you can put an Ace in the 2-card hand.  If the highest pair is 8s, 7s or 6s, split them unless you can put an Ace or King in the 2-card hand.  If the highest pair is 5s, 4s or 3s, split them unless you can put an Ace, King or Queen in the 2-card hand. 
  • Another method is to make the 5-card hand stronger.  For example, when your second pair is deuces, you may want to keep your two pair together and play the two highest remaining cards in the low hand.
  • Some people want a stronger 2-card hand  and they will split two pairs unless the highest pair is 77 or less and you cannot put an Ace in the 2-card hand. 

However you choose to play your hands, we are here to have fun.  You can always ask the house dealer for advice.  And you can always make friends and enjoy the camaraderie at our Pai Gow game, along with great food and service right at the table. 

What is the Optimal Strategy for Three Card Poker

Playing Three Card Poker is Easy and Fun. You are dealt three cards and the dealer is dealt three cards. The object is to have your three card poker hand to beat the dealer’s three card poker hand. You first make an Ante bet. After receiving your three card hand, you can surrender your hand and Ante wager or make a Play bet equal to your Ante bet before the dealer’s hand is revealed. If you win, you win both of your bets. The Ante and Play wagers pay even money (1:1). This is how the game is played nearly everywhere, including Las Vegas.

However at the California Grand Casino, because we show you one of the dealer’s cards before you make your Play bet, you are Playing With Better Odds Than Vegas and other casinos. Seeing one of the dealer card’s also changes the correct strategy for deciding when to make your Play bet. You will want to adjust your strategy so you can maximize your opportunity to win.

You are also playing against other players, not the casino. So at the California Grand Casino you have the opportunity to wager on the dealer hand if you want to do so.


Let’s start with a few basics. If you bet and the dealer does not have Queen or better, the dealer does not play; you win your Ante bet and your Play bet pushes (neither wins nor loses), even if the dealer’s hand beats your hand. If the dealer has Queen high or higher then you must beat the dealer to win. If you win, you’re paid on both your Ante bet and Play bet. If you lose, the dealer takes both bets.

The ranking of most hands is the same as in Poker except you are using only three cards and a straight is higher than a flush. So a mini-royal flush (AKQ) and straight flush are at the top of the hand rankings, followed by three of a kind, straight, flush, pair, and high card. If your highest card and the dealer’s highest card are the same, the tie is broken by the second-highest card, then the third highest card. If your hand and the dealer’s hand are exactly the same, you tie and the bets push.


The usual strategy for when to make the Play wager is to bet whenever you have Queen-6-4 or better, including any time your high card is an Ace or a King, no matter how high your other two cards are, and also anytime your hand is Q-7 or better, regardless of your third card. Fold if your hand is not at least that high. If your high card is a Jack or lower, fold, no matter how high your other two cards are.


When you have the advantage of seeing one of the dealer’s cards, you should change your basic strategy. If the dealer card is:

  • A Jack or Lower = Always Make a Play Bet. The odds that the dealer hand won’t qualify or will be lower than yours are increased.
  • Queen = Only Play with Q, 9, 2 or better. If the dealer is showing a queen, your second card now needs to be stronger.
  • King = Only Play with a K, 9, 2 or better. The same logic applies here. You need at least the same high card as the dealer and a stronger second card better than the average card value.
  • Ace = Only Play with an A, 9, 2.

You also have the option of playing the hand house-way. This takes all the guess work out deciding when you should play. To play your hand house way, you put up your Ante and your Play bet, and the hand will be played according to the strategy outlined above.


One of the exciting aspects of Three Card Poker is the opportunity to win large amounts through optional bonus wagers. You can win up to 1,000 times your wager on a bonus bet. There are two bonus bets: the Pair Plus bonus and the 6 Card bonus.

The Pair Plus bonus is based on the three cards in your hand. If you’re dealt a pair or better in your three cards, you win the Pair Plus bonus wager. The amount you win depends on what type of hand you are dealt.

The 6 Card bonus looks at the three cards in your hand and the three cards in the dealer’s hand. If, after combining the 6 cards, you can make a poker hand of three of a kind or better, you win the 6 Card bonus wager. The amount you win depends on what type of poker hand you can make with the six cards.


We want you to have a good time when you are here. When playing you should always think about money management. Your bet sizes should be relative to your bankroll. For example if you are playing win a $300 bankroll you should probably only make bets of $10-$20 per hand to make your play opportunities last longer. You should also think about win and loss limits. This means if you win you leave with your winnings and if you lose you do not lose more than you can afford.

If you want more information about how to play Three Card Poker, don’t hesitate to come to the California Grand Casino in Pacheco and ask a staff member. We are more than happy to explain any of our action-packed games.

Baccarat table and players

How to play EZ Baccarat

What is EZ Baccarat?:

Baccarat is one of the most popular table games in American Casinos, and the undisputed king in Macau. Many variations of the game exist worldwide, varying by region. At the California Grand Casino we play EZ Baccarat, a variant popular in all of California and the East Bay and all across San Francisco Bay area.

How to play EZ Baccarat:

As the name implies EZ Baccarat is fast and easy to play.

  • There are 2 hands: the Player and the Banker.
  • The dealer deals 2 cards for each hand. Depending on the initial card values, each hand may also be dealt a third card.
  • You bet on which hand will end up with a point value closest to nine (9).
  • You add up the cards in each hand and count only the last digit. So a 19 is a 9.


You can wager on either the Player or the Banker hand having the highest total, or you can wager on a tie. A Player or Banker wager pays even money. A tie wager wins 9:1. EZ Baccarat plays like traditional Baccarat but eliminates the 5% commission on winning Banker hand wagers by making the hand a push when the Banker hand wins with a three card seven.

Bonus Wagers:

  • Dragon 7: this bet is won if a banker hand wins with a 3 card 7. The pay-out is 40:1.
  • Panda 8:  this bet is won if a player hand wins with a 3 card 8. The Pay-out is 25:1.
  • Tie:  this bet is won when the banker and the player hands reach a tie. The pay-out is 9:1
Couple in the casino

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

California Grand Casino, located in the San Francisco East Bay, hosts an exciting Pai Gow poker game. It is one of the most popular games at the California Grand. Our Pai Gow Poker game is very simple–you can learn to play it in less than a minute.

Pai Gow Poker, also called double-hand poker, is an American version of an ancient Chinese game. Instead of using Chinese dominoes, playing cards are used and hands are valued using poker rankings. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck and a single joker.

One unique element of California Grand Casino’s Pai Gow Poker is that here the joker can be used as any card in the deck, unlike other places where the joker can only be used to complete straights, flushes, or to act as an ace. Our Pai Gow Poker game has more ways to win!

How to Play Pai Gow Poker:

  • Pai Gow Poker begins with the house dealer dealing seven cards to every player.
  • Each player then uses their cards to create a 2 card top hand, and a 5 card bottom hand. The bottom hand must be higher in rank than the top hand.
  • Once set, the player’s top hand is compared to the dealer’s top hand, and the player’s bottom hand is compared to the dealer’s bottom hand.
  • To win, a player’s two hands must be higher in ranking than both the hands of the dealer’s. A push occurs if the player and the banker both win in one spot.
  • The dealer’s hand wins ties in either spot. Every player has a chance to be the dealer and play against the rest of the table if they choose.

Our Pai Gow Poker game runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the California Grand Casino in Pacheco, between Martinez and Concord. Come on down, make friends, experience the camaraderie, and enjoy our great food and service right at the table! We have a wide variety of Casino games including a full poker room, Hold em, Baccarat, three card poker, and Blackjack.

learning the game

To Bluff or Not to Bluff!

To Bluff or Not to Bluff, That is the Question!

Welcome back my friends! I hope that you’re enjoying the change in seasons and the additional sunlight that comes with it. The season isn’t the only thing changing around here…when you have a moment, check out our brand new website! All the information you need is there, including our latest promotions, great offers, and current JACKPOTS!

Something I overheard at the tables the other day really caught my attention and caused me to think a great deal about the topic. A regular opponent of mine said, “You just can’t bluff in this game, no one throws away their hand!” It struck me for two reasons. First, I have successfully bluffed this particular person on several occasions (in LIMIT poker no less!) Secondly, while his perception is a common one, it simply isn’t true. It certainly has some credence to it, as bluffing in limit poker is no easy task, and not one I would often recommend. That being said, there is a time and a place for it, both in limit and in no-limit Hold ’em. It’s impossible to pin down exactly when you should or shouldn’t bluff, but there are a couple things that you want to keep in mind if you’re considering making a move.

Know your opponent(s)

If you’re going to attempt the most daring play in poker (outside of playing Omaha!), be sure to have a decent understanding of who you are trying to bluff. We all know the few players that simply never fold a hand like top pair or better. It just doesn’t happen and they want to see your hand no matter how badly they’re beaten. You see them make hopeless calls on the river all the time against other players. Despite knowing this, you may find yourself in a pot with this person on the river when you completely missed your hand. You will feel the urge to bet. After all, it’s the only way you can win now, and the pot is so big…what’s one more bet? You MUST fight that urge. Take a second, remind yourself of whom you’re playing against, and simply let this one go. Save that bet and live to fight another day.

Now take that same situation and replace Captain Calls-a-Lot, with Pondering Patrick. Patrick is a thinker at the table. He tries to make the best play and often gives his decisions a lot of thought. He prides himself on his solid play and isn’t shy about telling people about it. He might even show a fold face up just to impress the table with his hand reading ability and his knowledge. Here is your opportunity. Now that’s not to say that you go out of your way to bluff Patrick, but if you happen to find yourself in a situation like the one above and Patrick is your only opponent, a bluff just might be in order if other conditions are right. What other conditions? Glad you asked…

Know your situation

Simply put, your bluff needs to make sense in order for it to have the best chance of working. If you haven’t been taking any aggressive action when other people have shown weakness, and now at the end of the hand you bluff trying to represent top pair, you’re going to have a tough time. Especially against more observant players, you want to make sure that your bet/bluff AND your previous actions in the hand are along the lines of what someone would expect you to do if you had the hand you are trying to represent. This advice is especially important in no-limit. When your actions are inconsistent and things don’t make sense to your opponent, they are far more likely to call your bet. This advice also applies when you are facing a potential bluff. Think back through the hand. Does your opponent’s play make sense? If something doesn’t quite add up, chances are a call is in order.

If you find yourself considering a bluff, be sure that you’ve thought about who your opponent(s) are and if your previous actions in the hand make sense. If both of those variable are favorable, then you may want to take a stab at it. If one or both of those factors are out of whack, you may be better served by waiting for a better spot. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut and put yourself (and your chips) out there! Until next time, see you at the tables!

Player Tips

Table Talk – When to Walk Away

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you are staying warm and dry this season, as it sure has been cold and wet lately. The change in weather combined with people taking time off of work means that the action inside the California Grand Casino has been heating up! We’ve talked a lot about various aspects of poker strategy in the past, but something that doesn’t get covered very often is how to quit a poker game. How does a player know when it is time to get up from the table and call it a day? It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. When do you quit when you are running well and winning pots? When do you quit when things aren’t going your way? The reasons vary from person to person, so there’s no single right answer I can give you. What I can tell you is that there are some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get up from a poker game, and by taking a few moments to really consider your motivations and options, you should be able to figure out exactly what course of action is right for you.

In order to answer the question of when to walk away, you have to first establish why you started in the first place. Everyone starts because they want to play poker, but it goes beyond that. Why do you play poker? What motivated you to sit down at the poker table today? Let’s discuss a few of the main reasons that people play poker and when they should quit based on their individual motivations for playing.

Playing for fun

You love poker. You’re the type of player that plays to relax, unwind, socialize, and have a good time. You come after work to de-stress and sometimes come in on the weekends to enjoy some friendly competition. Poker to you is simply a fun game that provides recreation, interaction, and occasionally a little extra spending cash. When should you get up from the game? Get up from the game when the game ceases to be what you want it to be anymore. If you came to enjoy yourself and relax, and yet find yourself getting frustrated by bad beats or irritated by the chatterbox sitting to your left, then it’s time to take a break and consider cashing out. Maybe a break or a quick bite to eat is all you need and you can get back to enjoying the game. If not, then perhaps it’s time to end the session.

Another reason a recreational player may want to quit the game is when he or she simply has other responsibilities to attend to. If you are someone with a lot of things to take care of, I would suggest giving yourself a time limit and sticking to it. You can be a bit flexible if things are going extremely well and you’re having an absolute blast, but for the most part you should keep your promise to yourself and abide by your self imposed poker curfew.

Playing for keeps

You are a serious player. You’re competitive, better than most, and came to win. Don’t let others be fooled, you love a great time on the felt just as much as the next guy, but the chips are what brought you here and you plan to walk out with a ton! You work on your game and discuss strategy with your peers. You even read a small poker blog to see if there are any pearls of wisdom hidden among the verbosity! When should you get up from the game? That can be a bit of a trickier question than it is for a recreational player because there are factors outside of yourself to consider. Firstly, do you have the time to continue to play? If deciding to continue to play puts you on the clock and you’ll have to leave by a certain time, then it’s definitely best to call it a day. Playing with a fixed time limit looming can throw even the best players off of their A game. Speaking of playing your A game, that’s another reason to cash out. Any time you’re not playing your A game and you become aware of it, take a quick mental break. Ask yourself why you slipped from playing your A game and answer yourself honestly. If you can get back to the top of your game, then it’s safe to carry on. If other factors are contributing to your sub-par play such as being tired, tilted, or tense, then perhaps you would be best served heading to the cage.

As poker players there are so many things that we have little control over; our opponents’ actions, what cards will come, and any number of other variables in a card room. One of the few things we do have control over is when we get up from the game. A little bit of self reflection and honesty is all that is needed to help you arrive at the conclusion that’s right for you. Until next time, see you at the tables!