Oaks, for more than 115 years, is the place for cards

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By Bret Miller

Oaks Card Club has been in operation since 1895 and has been run by the Tibbetts family for four generations. At 40 tables, the Oaks is one of Northern California’s most active poker rooms.

With a large variety of games, the Oaks has something for everyone. Limit hold’em begins at $1-$2 and usually is made up of a core group of fixed-income players looking to be a part of the bad-beat jackpot, which can run as much as $50,000.

The $3-$6, $6-$12 and $15-$30 limit games are most popular, with multiple tables usually offered at each limit. A $30-$60 game typically spreads daily at 1 p.m., and it’s recommended you call ahead (510-653-4456) and ask the board to put your name on the list if you’d like to get into that game.

As per usual in most cardrooms, the action varies from day-to-day, but for those who crave action, this is a great place to play.
The Oaks also offers $100-max and $200-max spread-limit hold’em, $4-$8 (and occasionally $6-$12) limit Omaha/8 and $2 and $5 Pan. On Saturday mornings you’ll sometimes find a lowball game, probably the last of its kind in all of Northern California.

There are also all of the typical “table games” for those who wish to partake: Pai Gow, double-hand poker, California 21, Baccarat and three-card poker.

The Oaks has five tournaments a week: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All are NLHE with buy-ins ranging from $50 plus rebuys to $225 with no rebuy. Each tournament has a slightly different format to keep things interesting.

The tournament directors, led by Allan Wasserman, do a fine job of bringing in the players and keeping the events running smoothly. Tournament fields tend to run 75-110 players. The blind structure usually facilitates running times of 5-6 hours for weeknight events, which is just right for us working stiffs who have to get up early for our jobs.

Weekend events can run slightly longer, but not always so.
The food offerings at the Oaks are above average as cardroom fare goes. An extensive (but not expensive) menu includes breakfast, burgers, appetizers, salads, Asian cuisine and hofbrau-style sandwiches. There’s also a full bar with occasional drink specials. Try my favorite: corned beef on rye and a side salad with a cold beer to wash it down.

The Oaks is at 4097 San Pablo Ave. in Emeryville, Calif., just minutes from the Bay Bridge and Highways 880 and 580. Security is there 24-7 and will walk with you to your vehicle upon request.

— Bret Miller is the Ante Up Ambassador for Northern California. You can email him at anteupbret@gmail.com.