Central California Road Trip, by Scott Long
Featuring all of the natural splendor the Golden State has to offer, you can climb a mountain or swim in the Pacific Ocean in Central California. And when you’re ready to take your adventure inside, you’re sure to discover you don’t have to visit the biggest cities in the state to play some great poker.
Aviator Casino | 661.721.7770
theaviatorcasino.com | @aviatorcasino
If you like Mexican poker (a 5-card stud game where you have the option to expose your cards), this Delano cardroom features it prominently. At 6:30 p.m. every Thursday, a $30 tournament features the game, and occasional bigger buy-in tournaments with guarantees are offered as well. At noon on the last Saturday of the month, the room guarantees $7,500 in its $125 buy-in deepstack no-limit hold’em tournament. High-hand and frequent player promotions are offered, too. And the room’s name is appropriate; it has to get Federal Aviation Administration approval to make any changes to its building.
Chukchansi Gold | 559.692.5200
chukchansigold.com | @chukchansigold
On the doorstep to Yosemite National Park with commanding views of the Sierras, the aptly named 3 Peaks Poker Room at this tribal casino in Coarsegold works to make players feel at home. Free lessons are offered, as well as private tables for groups, so you can hold your home game in a picturesque setting. Tournaments are every day, and play 20 hours a month and you’ll be invited to a $1,500 freeroll. Get a royal flush at any time and you’ll win at least $325, separate from any high-hand promotions.
Golden West Casino | 661.324.6936
goldenwestcasino.net | @GWCBakersfield
More than a mere cardroom, this Bakersfield gaming establishment features a 40-table dedicated poker room with a high-limit area and separate tournament section. It’s recently made tournament structures more generous, calling all of them deepstack events. Tournaments run every day but Thursday and include bounty events. The first and last Saturday of every month feature a $150 buy-in tournament with a $10,000 guaranteed prize pool. High-hand and aces-cracked promotions are offered, and Golden West will host your private poker party, throwing in complimentary appetizers, and your group is eligible for jackpots.
Club One Casino | 559.497.3000
clubonecasino.com | @ClubOneCasino
This cardroom, just off all of the major freeways in Fresno, takes its holidays seriously. Don’t believe it? It even had a tournament on Presidents Day! That event followed similar ones on New Year’s Day and in advance of Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The room is also where you want to be for the next big fight. Seated players in the past have been invited to watch UFC for free.
And if you want to become the next Chris Moneymaker but your tournament game isn’t sharp, simply play cash on the last Sunday of every month when one player will get a World Series of Poker Main Event seat in the 8 p.m. drawing.
Chumash Casino | 805.686.0855
chumashcasino.com | @chumashcasino
The 14-table poker room at this elegant tribal casino in Santa Ynez features tournaments at 10:15 every morning and at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And on Mondays, you can play an All-In or Fold rebuy tournament for just $15. In addition to no-limit hold’em, you’ll find five-card Omaha/8 and high-hand promotions on Mondays. The casino has a free online poker site on its website where you can practice your game before hitting the casino, and after a long day at the tables, you can get a good night’s sleep in the resort’s AAA Four Diamond hotel.
Tachi Palace | 559.924.7751
tachipalace.com | @tachipalace
Nearly every poker room offers promotions, but this tribal casino in Leemore sets itself apart with creative twists on giveaways normally found elsewhere. Aces cracked? Yeah, they do it, but also “Kings Kracked” several days a week and bonuses for any paired paint cards that get cracked on Tuesdays.
It keeps players on their toes on Sundays and Wednesdays with a variety of promotions in its “2-Hour Random Promos.”
Tournaments are held most days, with the biggest events on Sundays ($85 buy-in) and the first Saturday of every month ($225 buy-in with World Series of Poker Main Event seats and travel money guaranteed).
More CenCal Rooms
Central Coast (Grover Beach)
Diamond Jim’s (Rosamond)
Eagle Mountain (Porterville)
Paiute Palace (Bishop)
Pasa Robles (Pasa Robles)
Table Mountain (Friant)