california grand entrance

Welcome Back!


We opened again in late January with Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Hot Action Blackjack®, Three Card Poker with better odds than Vegas, Pai Gow Poker and EZ Baccarat. We are open 24 hours and 7 days a week with Free Valet Parking.

We have games inside and in our outdoor climate controlled facility, together with a waiting area, sign up board and food service areas where players can order food and beverages. Our waiting, gaming and dining areas are smoke free.

Come in for cash jackpots, great games, fantastic food and friendly service, all without having to leave the Bay Area. We have been voted Best Casino in the East Bay seven years in a row! We hope you have a great experience here.

The California Grand is located at Highway 680 and Highway 4 in the East Bay, near Walnut Creek and Concord, 20 minutes from Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Thank you to all our customers who have returned, our new customers, Contra Costa County for helping us to get open, and to all our staff that have worked very hard to make this a great and safe experience for everyone.

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.


3 card poker at the California Grand Casino Bay area card room

When Will California Cardrooms Open?

When will California Card Rooms Reopen?

UPDATE January 2022:

The California Grand Casino is OPEN with Texas Hold ‘Em, Pai Gow Poker, Hot Action Blackjack, Three Card Poker and EZ Baccarat.  We offer the best games and the Best Action in the Bay Area!  We look forward to seeing you.  New Players receive $100 in Match Play for table games and poker players get $50 in chips for $20.



Best casino the East Bay

Casino Near Richmond, CA

The Bay Area has so much to offer that the City of Richmond is often overlooked. The climate is the Goldilocks climate of the Bay Area, not too hot and not too cold. That weather makes the turn along 35 mile long Richmond Bay trail excellent for Hikers, Bikers, Walkers and Photographers. The bay views give some people an entirely new perspective on the Bay Area’s majesty. If you are coming, don’t forget the pooch! Richmond has three separate dog parks so that bowser can get his exercise.

In town, Richmond features numerous breweries, coffee shops and art. There are 13 Museum and Art Centers in Richmond. The Rosie The Riveter memorial park and visitor center was started as a local art’s project. It was so successful it was turned into a national park site, featuring an outdoor walk that memorializes the contributions of women during World War II. Inside the Visitor center are fun and educational interactive exhibits that make a stop here fun for the whole family.

The Best Casino In Richmond, CA

The Casino that locals love is the California Grand Casino. In nearby Pacheco, California Grand has been around for over a hudred and fifty years and now features the latest in gaming action. A long time favorite, California Grand has been voted the best casino in East Bay each year from 2012 to 2019. Come see why people from Richmond, and all over the bay come to California Grand.

Just a short drive down highway 4, into Pacheco you will find the California Grand. If you’re looking to play check out our Directions page now and come by anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have free valet parking, great food and are smoke free. Our games include Texas Hold ?Em poker, Pai Gow Poker, Hot Action Blackjack, Three Card Poker and EZ Baccarat.

Background for California Grand Casino

What To Do In Concord California

Concord California

Concord California, located in the East San Francisco Bay Area, is a city with a rich history and charming downtown area. Todos Santos Plaza is the center of the action in Concord, with a charming farmer’s market twice a week, live music on summer evenings, and a collection of excellent restaurants and bars open year-round. 

The Concord Pavilion is a great place to see shows and concerts. Some of the Country’s biggest bands have played there, including Maroon 5, Incubus, and Santana.

One of the best things about Concord is its location. It’s only minutes from San Francisco and San Jose, giving residents and visitors plenty to do all around the Bay Area. It’s also just a few minutes away from the California Grand Casino, the Bay Area’s premier Cardroom.

California Grand Casino in Concord

At the California Grand Casino you also can play all your favorite table games, like Texas Hold’Em, Three Card Poker, Hot Action Blackjack, Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, and Omaha Poker. Many of the games have with better odds than Vegas. In our Three Card Poker game, you can see one of the dealer’s cards before you make a play bet. In our Pai Gow Poker, our joker is fully wild. In Hot Action Blackjack you don’t bust on 22 if the dealer also has a 22, and you can win up to 200 times your Buster Blackjack bet. Players win double their money if their first two cards are suited Aces. In EZ Baccarat, you can win up to 40 times your bet.  California Grand Casino has been coted the best bay area Casino annually since 2012, and it’s the casino that locals love – stop on in!

Background for California Grand Casino

Casino Near Walnut Creek, CA

Activities in Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek in San Francisco’s East Bay is full of outdoor sports opportunities, cultural activities and nightlife. This fun, family friendly town just minutes from San Francisco has great weather, great restaurants as well as The Lesher Center of the Arts, outdoor parks, open spaces and many golf courses and hiking trails throughout Contra Costa County. People in Walnut Creek lead an active lifestyle, and when they want a little fun and relaxation, they head to the California Grand Casino, which is just minutes away

At the California Grand Casino you also can play all your favorite table games, like Texas Hold ‘Em, Three Card Poker, Hot Action Blackjack, Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, and Omaha Poker. Many of the games have with better odds than Vegas. In our Three Card Poker game, you can see one of the dealer’s cards before you make a play bet. In our Pai Gow Poker, our joker is fully wild. In Hot Action Blackjack you don’t bust on 22 if the dealer also has a 22, and you can win up to 200 times your Buster Blackjack bet. Players win double their money if their first two cards are suited Aces. In EZ Baccarat, you can win up to 40 times your bet.

Casino Minutes away From Walnut Creek

The California Grand Casino is located only 10 minutes from downtown Walnut Creek and is just off of interstate 680

If you’re looking to play at the casino that locals love, check out our Directions page now and come by anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have free valet parking, great food and we are smoke free.

Poker table with cards

Preflop Play in Omaha 8 or Better Part 2

Best Omaha Preflop Hands

In part 1 we discussed different types of A2 hands, and what qualities we look at when comparing them.

In this part we will look at some other types of hands, and consider when and how they might be played.

Wheel Aces with High Potential

These are the bread and butter hands of Omaha 8 or Better. Hands with an A that can make a wheel for the low, while also having cards with some high potential. Hands like:

A key concept with hands like these is that they will often play better with fewer players in the pot. As we discussed in part 1 the ability to make the nuts with a hand shoots dramatically up in importance as the pot goes multiway.

Hands in this category are excellent hands to play in pots with 2-3 total players. 

High Hands

High hands, or hands that cannot make a low, are dangerous hands in Omaha 8.  They will very rarely see a “clean’ flop where they know they will never have to split the pot with a low, and also rarely flop a hand so good that they can never be beat for high.

That’s why it’s important to only play the very best hands in this category, and be selective about when to play them.

Consider a hand like QsQcTs9h.  In Omaha Hi this hand is a premium, hovering around the 5% rank.  But in Omaha 8 or Better this hand is closer to the 35% mark, and it’s easy to see why.  Let’s look at some flops:

Jh8h5s:  This is one of the better flops for QQT9 where we flop an overpair an open ended straight draw, but against a reasonable 20% range of hands we are not even a favorite with only 43.5% equity.

K54:  On common board types like this with a possible low and overcard our hand has only 30% equity and cannot continue.

J98:  A slam-dunk board for us, and we still only have 75% equity against a reasonable range of 20% of hands.

We can actually graph how often our hand will be a favorite on the flop:

When evaluating high-only hands it’s important to remember a few points:

  1. They don’t do well in two player pots
  2. They don’t do well when your high cards will rarely draw to the nuts (IE AKQJ is much better than QJT9)
  3. They don’t want to pay a high-price preflop because they will frequently have to fold on the flop

Low Cards Without an A

Hands like: 2345 2456 3568

These hands fit into a category that is similar conceptually to high hands. They will rarely hit a flop in a very strong way, and will often have to fold immediately on the flop. They perform poorly in two player pots. 

Just like with high hands it’s important to be very selective with which of these we play, and when we play them.

We want to make sure we plays hands that can hit flops hard, and that we are in position to maximize when we do. This means only playing the lowest, most connected versions of these hands. Hands like 5678 are complete trash and should always be folded. And it also means only playing these cheaply before the flop in hands that are most likely to go multi-way.



Poker table with cards

PreFlop Play in Omaha 8 or Better Part 1

Omaha Preflop Strategy

Omaha 8 or Better (frequently written shorthand as O8) is a Hi-Low split the pot version of Omaha poker played fixed-limit, meaning you can only bet in fixed increments.  The low hand must be five cards of 8 or less, including Aces.

As with most poker games, preflop decision making is a very important part of winning Omaha 8 strategy. Generally, you want to play hands that can scoop, that is capture both the high and low best hands. You certainly want to play hands that can win the high, because in some hands there are not five cards for the low (8 or less). So it often does not make sense to play for the low, especially since low hands are more likely to tie, meaning even if you win the low you may get only 25% of the pot if someone has the same low hand.

Players used to Texas Hold’em might be surprised to learn that there are no “preflop charts” for Omaha 8. This is because Hold’em has 1,326 starting hand combinations whereas Omaha has 270,725 starting hands.  It’s impossible to give a concise and accurate description of what hands to play from each position for Omaha 8.  This makes Omaha 8 a very dynamic and interesting game with no concrete guidelines available each pre-flop situation can be truly unique and is an opportunity to apply your problem-solving skills to determine the best course of action.  

Unlike most poker games you will find top players who disagree about what the best hands are preflop, and how they should be played.  You’ll even find players who have been playing the game for many years who do not have a good grasp of what a “good” hand even looks like.  

To give you an idea of what I mean let’s consider a few similar looking Omaha 8 hands:

Hand 1:  As 2s 3c Kc

Hand 2:  As 2s Qs Jc

Hand 3:  As 2c 8c 9c

All of these hands are superficially quite similar.  They all contain (A2) which is the 2-card combination most likely to make the nut low.  However they vary dramatically in quality.

Hand 1 is a super-premium, top 1% hand.  It’s double suited to both high cards, contains (A23) which is an extremely powerful low-draw, and (AK) which is a powerful high hand.  It’s such a good hand that not raising with it, even when facing a raise, will almost always be a mistake.  It’s a significant favorite over even a tight player only playing 10% of their hands.

Hand 2 is also a premium hand, but it doesn’t have the super-premium status of Hand 1.  We see that the hand is no longer double-suited, but single suited.  It also has an extra spade, which hurts its value somewhat.  However, significantly, it’s still suited to the Ace, and it still contains strong high-card potential.  This is a strong hand that should be usually played for a raise, however unlike Hand 1 it is not an equity favorite over a tight player’s opening range.  

Hand 3 is one of the worst (A2) hands.  (A2) is strong enough in Omaha 8 that even the worst (A2) hands will be playable in most situations, but this hand is far from a favorite over a tight opener’s range.  Unlike Hand 1 and Hand 2, this hand has limited high potential.  Our 9-high flush draw will always be in danger of domination, and neither the 8 nor the 9 make particularly powerful pairs. When we pair our A we are likely to be out-kicked.  

In Part 2 we will look at other types of Omaha 8 hands, and how to evaluate them. Then finally, in Part 3 we will look at how the specific qualities of our hand can affect preflop decisions in non-obvious ways.

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. 

Player Tips

A Poker Life – Part 2

A Poker Life At California Grand Casino – Part 2

Hey everyone glad to have you back for the second installment of my journey from learning how to play poker to being one of the many familiar faces at the California Grand Casino in San Francisco’s East Bay! In Part 1 of Poker Life At The California Grand Casino I told you about matching wits with my Grandma and playing with fraternity brothers and opponents more than double my age. The final chapter that sent me towards a life on the felt begins with an unlucky break in the most literal sense of the word.

New Year’s Eve: Dec. 31 1999. Massive New Year’s Eve celebrations abound Y2K fears unrealized and lots of uncertainty in the air as we slowly began to assimilate and embrace the new millenium-2000 here we come! But just prior to the New Year’s Eve festivities I finally made the very tough decision to drop out of college in Colorado and return home to California. This particular new year-2000-marked a completely new journey with no guarantees except that I would be living life on my terms. I had no idea where life was going to lead me but I was determined to enjoy the ride!

As it turned out that ride led me to a very rewarding environmental job that allowed me to travel a great deal. As I worked up and down the California coast I would take time in the evenings to find the closest local cardroom and play some poker. Every time I headed out of town for work you could find me at the local poker tables. I gained a great deal of experience during my time with this new job but it didn’t last long. The company lost a large contract and had to lay off workers; I was a casualty. I struggled to find work with other companies getting hired and laid off two more times. Throughout this turbulent period of employment I had been playing more and more poker and playing it quite well. Eventually I was putting in 50+ hours a week with excellent results so I simply kept playing. Without ever intending to I had evolved into a professional poker player!

Being the sports nut that I am I played on many sports teams-both as a youth and young adult-one of them being a soccer team. During a particularly grueling match an opponent tried to slide tackle the ball away from me. He crashed into my knee my cleats stuck in the ground and everyone on the field heard a loud POP! I wasn’t sure at the time what exactly had happened but I knew it was serious. The MRI at the hospital confirmed what I had feared: I had torn my ACL. I had to undergo two surgeries as a result of my injury and even with insurance it was far from cheap. My bankroll–the money I had been using to play poker and make a living–was now being diverted to repairing my knee.

Needing a new profession and not wanting to totally abandon my poker playing I naturally gravitated to the casinos. The California Grand was where I played the most. It had always been a friendly and enjoyable place to play. I liked the customers and the employees and the competition was challenging. My game continued to improve. I spent countless hours observing the dealers. The thought started to cross my mind that perhaps I could be a dealer. This could be an ideal profession for someone like me. Of course I had no prior experience working in a casino no dealing background and had not gone to dealing school-not exactly great credentials. What I did have was persistence and a deep understanding of the nuances of the game. After speaking with the general manager I was told to practice and come back for an audition. I practiced constantly, passed the audition, and began my career as a dealer in the East Bay with California Grand Casino. The rest is history. After dealing for several years I moved on to work as a tournament director dealer trainer and floorman before settling into my current role of prop player blog writer and utility employee. Life is unpredictable and you never know what seemingly innocuous event can end up changing your life forever. There have been many bumps and bruises along the way both literally and figuratively and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Just like a day at the poker table life is unpredictable…might as well enjoy the ride!

Until next time see you at the tables!