California Card Rooms & Casinos in 2022

California has a rich history of card gambling. Although it outlaws most other forms of gambling, including California sports betting, card rooms are alive and well in the Golden State.

Today, you can find card rooms throughout the state that offer various games and tournaments. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced card player, California is a great place to find your new favorite card room.

Top Card Rooms in California

Commerce Casino

Commerce Casino is the largest card room in the world, featuring well over 270 tables within its facilities, in addition to several amenities and other entertainment venues. It offers most staple poker games and several Cal games. A 200-room hotel and several dining establishments make it an attractive place to use as a hub to explore the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

It’s also the site of several top tournaments. Commerce is well known for being extremely beginner-friendly. The casino even features educational classes for beginners in poker and similar games.

Hawaiian Gardens Casino

Hawaiian Gardens Casino is also fairly popular. It’s open 24 hours daily and features 150,000 ft.² of gaming space. It has 225 tables and poker games in addition to a single restaurant.

Although Hawaiian Gardens is not quite as comprehensive or all-inclusive as Commerce Casino, its poker room has a lot to like. It includes several cash games, cocktail services, a massage service, and auto shuffling machines for easy dealing.

The Bicycle Hotel and Casino

The Bicycle Hotel and Casino poker card room offers a wide range of poker and Asian games of varying limits. Games like blackjack, seven-card stud, Mexican Poker, Baccarat, and more are all available in addition to regular poker variants. It’s also the home of Legends of Poker, a tournament series and World Poker Tour stop that has been running since 1995.

Since 2015, the casino has featured a seven-story hotel that includes live entertainment experiences, gaming opportunities, and a cocktail lounge.

Hollywood Park Casino

Hollywood Park Casino was part of the original Hollywood Park Racetrack, which was demolished in 2013. It now operates in a new building, offering 125 tables for California games and poker. Chandelier lighting and HDTVs create a pleasing aesthetic. Most recently, the casino introduced a new sports bar for high-stakes players and celebrity poker tournaments.

Bay 101 Casino

Located in San Jose, CA, Bay 101 Casino offers regular Hold’em games with wagers up to $200 or $400 every day. It’s only a few minutes away from the San Jose airport, making it a great stopover location if you’re on vacation or a work trip and want to blow a few hours. Other games include variations on Omaha or No Limit Hold’Em.

Many of its dealers are renowned for their experience and professionalism, although some low limit games attract new card players.

Are Card Rooms Legal in California?

Although many forms of gambling aren’t legal in California, card rooms are. In fact, card rooms are one of the earliest legal forms of gambling in the state.

However, the number of card rooms has declined dramatically in recent years. There were once hundreds of card rooms in operation in California. As of 2022, only 59 card rooms remain open. An additional 25 card rooms retain their licenses but are no longer operating.

This is partially because, in 1995, a moratorium was put in place limiting the establishment of new card rooms. Moreover, potential legislative agreements between the California state government and local Native American tribes will result in further card room closures. These agreements would increase financial burdens on card rooms and impose disadvantageous policies.

For now, however, California card rooms continue to prosper but must adhere to strict regulations. Owners and operators undergo background checks, and host jurisdictions enforce local ordinances. Furthermore, publicly-owned corporations cannot invest in any California card clubs.

Types of Poker Games Dealt at California Card Rooms

Card rooms draw their primary audiences from those who want to play poker. Therefore, most card rooms offer a number of poker variations. You are likely to find popular games like Texas hold’em and Omaha hold’em.

Both games are popular because of their prevalence in serious poker tournaments (so there is a potential reward for those who are well-practiced). The primary difference between both of these games is the number of cards you are dealt. Texas Hold’Em deals out players two “hole” cards to start, while Omaha Hold’Em deals out four.

However, card rooms in California also offer other popular variations like seven-card stud. This game, which was once the most popular in the US, does not typically include a flop or community cards.

Biggest California Poker Tournaments

Card RoomMarquee Event
Commerce CasinoLos Angeles Poker Classic (held between January and March)
Bay 101 CasinoShooting Star tournaments with potential prizes up to $5,200
The Bicycle Hotel and CasinoWorld Series of Poker tournaments, drawing in some of the best players around and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of viewers (from November to December)

See our guide to California Poker Tournaments.

Other Games at California Card Rooms

Alongside poker, California card rooms offer California games (also known as “Cal games”). Essentially, these are classic games like blackjack or craps, but with rules that are modified to comply with California gambling regulations.

Blackjack

California blackjack is similar to classic blackjack but with a few key differences. First, the game is played to 22 rather than 21. Secondly, it’s played with a 53-card deck (thanks to the addition of jokers in the shoe). Thirdly, you can double your winnings by playing a “natural”, which is a combination of a joker and an ace. Lastly, a joker paired with any other card automatically hits 21 and freezes the hand in question.

Pai Gow

Normally, Pai Gow poker is a variation on the classic Chinese game played with dominoes. The California variation is played with a card deck. The goal is to split your seven dealt cards into two hands: one hand should have five cards, and the other should have two cards. Your five-card hand should rank higher than your two-card hand. Ultimately, you will compare your hand against the dealer’s hand to see which is better.

Chinese Poker

This is another variation of regular poker. Hands are arranged with three cards in front, and five in the middle and back. The back hand must the best or equal to the middle five cards. The middle five cards must be a better hand than the front three cards. Ultimately, whoever has the most points wins.

Panguingue

This game, similar to Rummy, is played with a 320-card deck. The objective is to be the first player in the group to lay down, or combine, all 10 cards in your hand (in addition to the final card drawn by a dealer). It was once quite popular, but has waned over the years and now can be found only in a small number of card rooms.

Baccarat

In “EZ Baccarat”, the California version of baccarat, you will assemble two hands of two or three cards with point values as close as you can get to nine. This version eliminates the odds differential between dealer line and player line wagers by barring a specific winning Bank hand. Ostensibly, this is meant the game fairer for the player.

Southern California Card Rooms

Card RoomAddressCity
500 Club Casino771 West Shaw Ave.Clovis
Aviator1225 Airport Dr.Delano
Banker's Casino111 Monterey St.Salinas
Bicycle Hotel and Casino888 Bicycle Casino Dr.Bell Gardens
Casino Merced1459 Martin Luther King Jr. Way #5Merced
Casino Real1355 North Main St.Manteca
Central Coast Casino359 West Grand Ave.Grover Beach
Club One Casino, Inc.1033 Van Ness AveFresno
Commerce Casino131 Telegraph Rd.Commerce
Crystal Casino123 East Artesia Blvd.Compton
Deuce Lounge & Casino30435 Road 68Visalia
Diamond Jim's Casino118 20th St. W.Rosamond
Empire Sportsmen's Assoc.5001 McHenry AvenueModesto
Golden West Casino1001 South Union Ave.Bakersfield
Hawaiian Gardens Casino11871 East Carson St.Hawaiian Gardens
Hollywood Park Casino3883 West Century Blvd.Inglewood
Hustler Casino1000 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.Gardena
King's Card Club6111 West Ln. #103Stockton
La Fuerza175 East Antelope Ave.Woodlake
Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino20930 Malaga Rd.Lake Elsinore
Larry Flynt's Lucky Lady Casino1045 Rosecrans Ave.Gardena
Lucky Lady Card Room5526 El Cajon Blvd.San Diego
Marina Club204 Carmel Ave.Marina
Oasis Card Room117 E. Ridgecrest Boulevard #ARidgecrest
Ocean's Eleven Casino121 Brooks St.Oceanside
Old Cayucos Tavern130 N. Ocean Ave.Cayucos
Outlaws Card Parlour9850 E. Front St.Atascadero
Parkwest Casino Lodi1800 South Cherokee Ln.Lodi
Paso Robles Central Coast Casino1144 Black Oak Dr.Paso Robles
Player's Casino6580 Auto Center Dr.Ventura
Poker Flats Casino1714 Martin Luther King Jr. WayMerced
Seven Mile Casino285 Bay Blvd.Chula Vista
Star's Casino775 West Clover Rd.Tracy
Turlock Poker Room2321 West Main St.Turlock
Westlane6111 West Ln. #103Stockton

See our complete Guide to Gambling in Southern California.

Northern California Card Rooms

Card RoomAddressCity
Artichoke Joe's Casino659 Huntington Ave.San Bruno
Bay 101 Casino1788 N 1st St.San Jose
California Grand Casino5988 Pacheco Blvd.Pachedo
Capitol Casino411 N. 16th St.Sacramento
Casino 99175 E. 20th St.Chico
Casino Chico968 East Ave.Chico
Club Casino (Club)1885 Hilltop Dr.Redding
Casino M8trix1887 Matrix Blvd.San Jose
Club San Rafael721 Lincoln Ave.San Rafael
Garlic City Club8630 San Ysidro Ave. #100Gilroy
Limelight Card Room1014 Alhambra Blvd.Sacramento
Livermore Casino3571 1st St.Livermore
Lucky Chances Casino1700 Hillside Blvd.Colma
Magnolia House Casino11275 Folsom Blvd.Rancho Cordova
Napa Valley Casino3466 BroadwayAmerican Canyon
The Nineteenth Hole7071 Airline Hwy.Tres Pinos
Oaks Card Club4097 San Pablo Ave.Emeryville
Ocean View Casino709 Pacific Ave.Santa Cruz
Palace Card Room22821 Mission Blvd.Hayward
Parkwest Casino 580968 North Canyons Pkwy.Livermore
Parkwest Casino Cordova2801 Prospect Park Dr.Rancho Cordova
Parkwest Casino Lotus6010 Stockton Blvd.Sacramento
Parkwest Casino Sonoma5151 Montero WayPetaluma
Rogelio's, Inc.34 Main St.Isleton
The Saloon at Stones Gambling Hall6510 Antelope Rd.Citrus Heights
The Tavern at Stones Gambling Hall6508 Antelope Rd.Citrus Heights
Towers Casino115 Bank St.Grass Valley

See our complete Guide to Gambling in Northern California.

Want to play California online poker? We recommend Global Poker.

California Card Rooms FAQs

How old do you have to be to play at a card room in California?

The legal gambling age in California is 18 years old. This also applies to card rooms.

Why are card rooms legal in California while other gambling rooms or establishments are not?

Card games like poker or blackjack include an element of skill. Since they are not purely games of chance (like slot machines), they do not qualify as gambling according to California law.

How many card rooms are in California?

At the time of writing, there were 59 operating card rooms operating in California. This number has steadily decreased from over 150 in the 1990s.

Do you need money to participate in a card room? 

Yes. However, some card rooms (like Commerce Casino) offer beginner-friendly games or educational games that use fake money in place of real money.

Are there online poker rooms as well?

No. You can play on sweepstakes poker sites, like Global Poker, but there are no real-money online options for California card rooms.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber is the Managing Editor of California Casinos. She writes for a variety of websites in diverse industries, including gaming and travel and is a fan of international football (not "soccer") and Gaelic sports.