Girl's eyes and four cards


In movies the key to winning at poker often is reading your opponent’s body language.  “I don’t need to look at my hand, I saw you look at yours.”  While you can’t make a living solely by noticing when a player reaches for his Oreos after he bets, every piece of information helps.  And there is a surprising amount of information available from watching the other players even after you fold, especially in No Limit Texas Hold Em

How Can I Read Hands in Poker Pre-Flop

You can start with whether the player seems comfortable or uneasy. Are their body and eyes relaxed or does the player seem stiff? Then see if you can find patterns in other players’ behavior, and notice when they deviate from those patterns. What did they do differently and why? Where are they looking? Be careful as well to distinguish how they act when the action is on them, while they are waiting for action and after they act. The same behavior may mean different things in each instance.

What are specific things to look for?   Well start before the flop by watching other people look at their cards.  How long does the player look at their cards?  Players that see two Aces tend to keep their hand close to the table and put their hand back down quickly.  There is an almost instinctive fear that other people may see their cards.  Players looking at hands closer to the bottom of their opening range may lift their cards higher and perhaps look at them a split second longer.

Notice what the player does after they put their cards down.  If the player looks at or touches their chips, that may mean they intend to play that hand.  Notice how they look at or touch their chips.  See if you can discern a pattern correlated to when they raise or call.  

And definitely look to your left.  The information about what people may do after you act is potentially more valuable since the players to your right will have acted before you.  Notice if any of the players look at their hands before it’s their turn to act.  If so, then watch them do so whenever you can.  If you see that a player to your left is likely to call, you may want to play your drawing hand and see if there is a multi way pot, or raise to chase them out.  If you see they are going to raise, you may want to tighten your range.  If on the other hand, you can tell they are going to throw away their hand, you might play more aggressively. 

These are a few basic concepts pre-flop.  In the next part, we’ll talk about other things to pay attention to after the flop.

Bay Area poker players love the California Grand Casino. We have the best poker and the liveliest action in all of Northern California. For seven years in a row, the California Grand has been voted “Best Casino in the East Bay” and “Best local Gaming in the East Bay” by the readers of the Bay Area News Group, which includes the San Jose Mercury News, the East Bay Times, the Marin Independent Journal and  That is why they call it Hot Action Poker.™

Our Bay Area casino is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with fast paced Hold’Em and casino game action. We focus on what everyone wants: great games and service. Our staff is friendly and experienced, and as a result our poker games here are considered by many to be the best and with the most action in the Bay Area.

player playing 3 card poker in the East Bay Casino and holding a hand of 3 aces

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.

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


Our Bay Area casino is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with Baccarat and fast paced Hold’Em and casino game action. We focus on what everyone wants: great games and service. Our staff is friendly and experienced, and as a result our poker games here are considered by many to be the best and with the most action in the Bay Area.

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.