When it comes to legal gambling, California is a mixed bag. Gambling, online or in-person, remain illegal on state land. The only exceptions are California card rooms (which tend to focus on poker), California horse race betting, and the state lottery.
Anyone who wants to get their fix of classic casino gambling (i.e. slots, table games, and Bingo), will have to go to one of 66 Indian casinos in California.
While CA authorities don’t allow poker just anywhere, enthusiasts within California’s borders will find that there are many ways to enjoy their favorite game. Below, we’ll break down everything you need to know about California poker and tell you where you can play a few hands.
California Online Sweepstakes Poker
Although online poker is not legal in California, online sweepstakes poker is a great alternative option. Essentially, sweepstakes poker sites allow players to join games that use digital Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins as currency. These currencies don’t hold any actual monetary value. So how does play poker to earn cash prizes?
Online sweepstakes sites like Global Poker allow players to purchase packages of Gold Coins. These coins are the currency for the standard Gold Coins poker games. On the other hand, Sweeps Coins, which are acquired for free with the purchase of Gold Coin packages (and by participating in certain promotions), are used to play in “cash” or Sweeps Coins games.
Only in Sweeps Coins poker games can you win more Sweeps Coins. Once you’ve accumulated a minimum number of Sweeps Coins, sweepstakes poker sites will allow you to trade them in for cash prizes. However, it’s rare for a player to earn significant cash prizes playing sweepstakes poker, so the experience is more ideal for casual players.
Global Poker is, by far, the best legitimate online poker sweepstakes site you can sign up for in California. There are several sign-up bonuses (like a free package of Gold Coins), and you’ll find both Texas Hold ‘Em and Pot-Limit Omaha offered on the site.
While Global Poker California isn’t offered as a mobile app, the site is optimized for both desktop and mobile users. It also benefits from a pretty consistent user base, so finding a game is usually easy. Weekly and daily tournaments allow players the opportunity to win cash prizes with higher stakes.
Card rooms are essentially licensed gambling houses where players can compete against one another instead of the house. They avoid California’s anti-gambling legislation since, as of recent revisions to card room rules, players take turns operating as the dealer or the house.
This does make games progress a little more slowly than those at brick-and-mortar casinos. Still, this is one of the only ways players can participate in cash games for poker without visiting a tribal casino.
There are 59 card rooms currently operating in California. However, this number may decrease with time since 1995 saw the introduction of new legislation declaring a moratorium on new card room locations.
Card rooms often host daily or weekly tournaments and competitions to draw in new players. Several of the most popular card rooms, like The Bike or Commerce, have even hosted major poker tournaments like the World Series of Poker.
Northern California Card Rooms
- Artichoke Joe’s Casino – 659 Huntington Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066
- Bay 101 – 1788 N 1st St., San Jose, CA 95112
- Black Sheep Casino – 3181 Cameron Park Dr., Cameron Park, CA 95682
- California Grand Casino – 5988 Pacheco Blvd, Pacheco, CA 94553
- Capitol Casino – 411 N. 16th St., Sacramento, CA 95811
- Casino 99 – 175 E. 20th St., Chico, CA 95928
- Casino Chico – 968 East Ave., Chico, CA 95928
- (Club) Casino Club – 1885 Hilltop Dr., Redding, CA 96002
- Casino M8trix – 1887 Matrix Blvd., San Jose, CA 95110
- Casino Marysville – 515 4th St., Marysville, CA 95901
- Club San Rafael – 721 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael CA 94901
- Garlic City Club – 8630 San Ysidro Ave. #100, Gilroy, CA 95020
- Hotel Del Rio & Casino – 209 2nd St., Isleton, CA 95641
- Lake Bowl Card Room – 511 East Bidwell St., Folsom, CA 95630
- Limelight Card Room – 1014 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95816
- Livermore Casino – 3571 1st St., Livermore, CA 94551
- Lucky Chances Casino – 1700 Hillside Blvd., Colma, CA 94014
- Magnolia House Casino – 11275 Folsom Blvd, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
- Napa Valley Casino – 3466 Broadway, American Canyon, CA 94503
- The Nineteenth Hole – 7071 Airline Hwy., Tres Pinos, CA 95075
- Oaks Card Club – 4097 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville, CA 94608
- Palace Card Room – 22821 Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA 94541
- Parkwest Casino 580 – 968 North Canyons Pkwy., Livermore, CA 94551
- Parkwest Casino Cordova – 2801 Prospect Park Dr., Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
- (Lotus) Parkwest Casino Lotus – 6010 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95824
- Parkwest Casino Sonoma – 5151 Montero Way, Petaluma, CA 94954
- Rogelio’s, Inc. – 34 Main St., Isleton, CA 95641
- The Saloon at Stones Gambling Hall – 6510 Antelope Rd., Citrus Heights, CA 95621
- The Tavern at Stones Gambling Hall – 6508 Antelope Rd., Citrus Heights, CA 95621
- Towers Casino – 115 Bank St., Grass Valley, CA 95945
Southern California Card Rooms
- 500 Club Casino – 771 West Shaw Ave., Clovis, CA 93612
- Aviator – 1225 Airport Dr., Delano, CA 93215
- Banker’s Casino – 111 Monterey St., Salinas, CA 93901
- Bicycle Casino – 888 Bicycle Casino Dr., Bell Gardens, CA 90201
- Bruce’s Casino – 116 Main St., Blythe, CA 92225
- Cameo Club – 552 W. Benjamin Holt Dr., Stockton, CA 95207
- Casino Merced – 1459 Martin Luther King Jr. Way # 5, Merced, CA 95340
- Casino Real – 1355 North Main St., Manteca, CA 95336
- Central Coast Casino – 359 West Grand Ave., Grover Beach, CA 93433
- Club One Casino, Inc. – 1033 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93721
- Commerce Casino – 131 Telegraph Rd., Commerce, CA 90040
- Crystal Casino – 123 East Artesia Blvd., Compton, CA 90220
- Deuce Lounge & Casino – 30435 Road 68, Visalia, CA 93291
- Diamond Jim’s Casino – 118 20th St. W., Rosamond, CA 93560
- Empire Sportsmen’s Assoc. – 5001 McHenry Avenue, Modesto, CA 95356
- Golden West Casino – 1001 South Union Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93307
- Hawaiian Gardens Casino – 11871 East Carson St., Hawaiian Gardens, CA 90716
- Hollywood Park Casino – 3883 West Century Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90303
- Hustler Casino – 1000 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena, CA 90247
- King’s Card Club – 6111 West Ln. #103, Stockton, CA 95210
- La Fuerza – 175 East Antelope Ave., Woodlake, CA 93286
- Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino – 20930 Malaga Rd., Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
- Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino – 1045 Rosecrans Ave, Gardena, CA 90247
- Lucky Lady Card Room – 5526 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
- Marina Club – 204 Carmel Ave., Marina, CA 93933
- Mike’s Card Casino – 824 North Yosemite Ave., Oakdale, CA 95361
- Oasis Card Room – 117 E. Ridgecrest Boulevard # A, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
- Ocean View Casino – 709 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
- Ocean’s Eleven Casino – 121 Brooks St., Oceanside, CA 92054
- Oceana Card Room – 1795 Front St., Oceana, CA 93445
- Old Cayucos Tavern – 130 N. Ocean Ave., Cayucos, CA 93430
- Outlaws Card Parlour – 9850 E. Front St., Atascadero, CA 93422
- Parkwest Casino Lodi – 1800 South Cherokee Ln., Lodi, CA 95240
- Paso Robles Central Coast Casino – 1144 Black Oak Dr., Paso Robles, CA 93446
- Pinnacle Casino – 955 Front St., Soledad, CA 93960
- Player’s Casino – 6580 Auto Center Dr., Ventura, CA 93003
- Poker Flats Casino – 1714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced, CA 95340
- Seven Mile Casino – 285 Bay Blvd., Chula Vista, CA 91910
- Star’s Casino – 775 West Clover Rd., Tracy, CA 95376
- Sundowner Card Room – 15638 Avenue 296, Visalia, CA 93292
- Tommy’s Casino & Saloon – 467 Main St., El Centro, CA 92243
- Turlock Poker Room – 2321 West Main St., Turlock, CA 95380
- Westlane – 6111 West Ln. #103, Stockton, CA 95210
Indian Casino Poker
Tribal casinos are allowed to operate throughout California because these establishments are technically built on sovereign tribal ground. Thus, they aren’t beholden to the regular anti-gambling laws that affect the rest of the state.
At tribal casinos, visitors and guests can enjoy all the gambling activities they would expect to find in Las Vegas, although the actual offerings differ from casino to casino. Some Indian casinos in California offer poker while others do not. Some even operate entire card rooms.
Tribal casinos frequently offer staple poker varieties like Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Hold ‘Em, although some places offer rarer game types. At these casinos, players will also be able to find California table games like Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.
Poker is usually played in dedicated rooms with comfortable seating and several amenities nearby, rather than on the main casino floor. Poker rooms may be small (with only one or two tables) or relatively large (possessing enough tables for dozens of guests). It all depends on the casino.
Northern CA Indian Casinos With Poker
- Barona Resort and Casino – 1932 Wildcat Canyon Rd., Lakeside, CA 92040
- Bear River Casino Resort – 11 Bear Paws Way, Loleta, CA 95551
- Blue Lake Casino and Hotel – 777 Casino Way, Blue Lake, CA 95525
- Cache Creek Casino Resort – 14455 Highway 16, Brooks, CA 95606-0065
- Colusa Casino Resort – 3770 Highway 45, Colusa, CA 95932-1267
- Coyote Valley Casino – 7751 N. State Street, Redwood Valley, CA 95418
- Desert Rose Casino – 901 Country Rd. 56 Alturas, CA 96101
- Diamond Mountain Casino and Resort – 900 Skyline Dr., Susanville, CA 96130
- Elk Valley Casino – 2500 Howland Hill Rd., Crescent City, CA 95531-9241
- Feather Falls Casino and Lodge – 3 Alberta Dr., Oroville, CA 95966
- Garcia River Casino – 22215 Windy Hollow Rd., Point Arena, CA 95468
- Gold Country Casino and Hotel – 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville, CA 95966
- Graton Resort and Casino – Wilfrid Avenue and Stony Point Road, Rohnert Park, CA 95441
- Havasu Landing Resort and Casino – 1 Main Street, Havasu Lake, CA 92363
- Hollywood Casino Jamul – 14145 Campo Rd., Jamul, CA 91935
- Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort – 12222 New York Ranch Road, Jackson, CA 95642
- Konocti Vista Casino – 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Finley, CA 95435
- Lucky 7 Casino and Hotel – 350 N. Indian Rd., Smith River, CA 95567
- Lucky Bear Casino – Shopping Center, Highway 96, Hoopa, CA 95546
- Pit River Casino – 20265 Tamarack Ave., Burney, CA 96013
- Rain Rock Casino – Interstate 5, Yreka, CA
- Red Fox Casino – 200 Cahto Dr., Laytonville, CA 95454
- Red Hawk Casino – 1 Red Hawk Boulevard, Placerville, CA 95667
- River Rock Casino – 3250 Highway 128 E., Geyserville, CA 95441
- Robinson Rancheria Resort, Casino, and Bingo – 1545 East Hwy. 20, Nice CA 95464
- Rolling Hills Casino – 2655 Barham Ave., Coming, CA 96021
- Running Creek Casino – 635 East Hwy. 20, Upper Lake, CA 95485
- San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino – 5797 North Victoria Ave., Highland, CA 92346
- San Pablo Lytton Casino – 13255 San Pablo Ave, San Pablo, CA 94806
- Spa Resort Casino – 140 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
- Thunder Valley Station Casino – 1200 Athens Ave., Lincoln, CA 95648
- Tortoise Rock Casino – 73829 Base Line Rd., Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
- Twin Pine Casino and Hotel – 22223 Highway 29, Middletown, CA 95461
- Valley View Casino and Hotel – 16300 Nyemii Pass Road, Valley Center, CA 92082
- Viejas Casino and Resort – 5000 Willows Rd., Alpine, CA 91901
- Win-River Resort and Casino – 2100 Redding Rancheria Rd., Redding, CA 96001
Southern CA Indian Casinos With Poker
- Harrah’s Resort Southern California – 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center, CA 92082
- Casino Pauma – 777 Pauma Reservation Rd., Pauma Valley, CA 92061
- Golden Acorn Casino and Travel Center – 1800 Golden Way Ray, Campo, CA 91906
- Hollywood Casino Jamul – 14145 Campo Rd., Jamul, CA 91935
- Pala Casino Spa Resort – 11154 Highway 76, Pala CA 92059
- Sycuan Casino and Golf Resort – 5485 Casino Way, El Cajon, CA 92019
- Quechan Casino and Resort – 525 Algodones Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283
- Agua Caliente Casino Resort – 32-250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
- Augustine Casino – 84-001 Avenue 54 at Van Buren, West Coachella, CA 92236
- Cahuilla Casino – 52702 Highway 371, Anza, CA 92539
- Fantasy Springs Resort Casino – 84-245 Indio Springs Pkwy., India, CA 92203-3499
- Morongo Casino Resort Spa – 49750 Seminole Dr., Cabazon, CA 92230
- Soboba Casino – 23333 Soboba Road, San Jacinto, CA 92581
- Pechanga Resort Casino – 45000 Pala Road, Temecula, CA 92592
- Spotlight 29 Casino – I-10 at Dillon Road, 46-200 Harrison Place, Coachella, CA 92236
- Chumash Casino Resort – 3400 East Hwy. 246, Santa Ynez, CA 93460-9405
- Paiute Palace Casino – 2742 North Sierra Hwy., Bishop, CA 93514
- Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino – 17225 Jersey Avenue, Lemoore, CA 93245
- Eagle Mountain Casino – 681 S. Tule Rd., Porterville, CA 93258
- Table Mountain Casino – 8184 Table Mountain Road, Friant, CA 93626
- Chukchansi Gold Casino Resort and Casino – 711 Lucky Ln., Coarsegold, CA 93614
- North Fork Rancheria Resort Hotel and Casino – 33143 Rd 222, North Fork, CA 93643
- Black Oak Casino – 19400 Tuolumne Road North, Tuolumne, CA 95379-9724
Types of Poker in California
The majority of card rooms and tribal casinos in California stick to two major poker types: Texas and Omaha Hold ‘Em. They offer cash games and California poker tournaments.
The former is arguably the most popular type of poker in the world. For those who don’t already know, here’s how you play:
- All players get two hole cards that are dealt facedown
- Five community cards are dealt face up and are progressively flipped in three stages
- Players collectively seek to hold the best five-card poker hand from any combination between their hole cards and the community cards in the center of the table
- Players compete by checking bets, raising bets, or folding if they wish to forfeit a hand
Omaha Hold ‘Em is also fairly common. The big difference between these two games is that Omaha poker gives the player four hole cards instead of two. Of those four hole cards, players must use exactly two of their cards to make the best hand possible with the community cards. This is a popular casual poker variety since each player has a generally higher chance of making a successful hand, resulting in more betting across the table.
Aside from these major game types, card rooms and casinos often offer games like Seven Card Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. These are more casual games but are often allowed in casinos or card rooms.
California Poker FAQs
California hasn’t been very gambling-friendly since it became a state, with the exception of horse racing (which has been an iconic betting activity since the early 1900s). Currently, California tribes, which earn a huge amount of their revenue from the gaming industry, are resistant to the state legalizing new forms of gambling. Online casinos in California (including poker), for example, would likely mean an increase in competition.
The legal gambling age in California is 18. Tribal casinos, however, usually set their minimum age to 21 years old. This prevents underage drinking from occurring on their premises.
Yes, but not for money. It’s technically illegal to host a cash poker game even in your own home. This law is designed to stop anyone from starting an unlicensed commercial casino.