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House of Cards
by Ashley Adams

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California Poker Scene, Part 2

by Ashley Adams

I left off the first part of this article after finishing play at the Casino Royale poker room in the beautiful Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento. Though my friend Andrei was tired out by our cross country flight and subsequent poker jaunt, I was still energized. So before retiring I headed out on Saturday night to the two other rooms in Sacramento, The Capitol Casino, and the Limelight Bar and Cafe Card Room.

The Capitol Casino (411 N. 16th Street, Sacramento, 916-446- 0700) is the dominant card room in the area. Open 24/7, there are ten poker tables and many “California Games”. The food is outstanding. They have Asian dishes, diner fare, and elaborate desserts that literally sit on shelves surrounding many of the areas of play. It was weird looking, but so tempting that I went back the following day just to eat breakfast (and had a great omelet and perfectly prepared coffee).

The room has the biggest action in the area. I played in the $2/$5 game that rocked and rolled. (They sometimes have $5/$10 no limit I was told—but it wasn’t going on the Saturday night I was there). Seventy percent of the hands were 3-bet or 4-bet pre-flop. I don’t recall if there was a cap on the buy-in, but at my table there were three players sitting with well over $1K. While the level of play was not of the very highest level—that you’ll find at some of the very large poker rooms like Commerce, Aria, Bellagio, Borgata, or Foxwoods -- this was better than a collection of local rocks and recreational players. I didn’t sit in or observe their other games, but there were $1/$2 no limits going as well as a few $4/8, $6/12 limit and even a $4/$8 Omaha8 with a half kill. They offer a wide variety of tournaments as well.

After about 90 minutes of play I left for a very late night session at the Limelight Bar and Café Card Room (1014 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 446-2208). I played in their $1/$3 no limit game with a maximum buy-in of $300. They had two of their three tables going. The level of play in the game I was in was of purely recreational players—a lot of drinking and only one or two serious players in the game. This is kind of a crumby and dark place, but retaining the flavor of the California card rooms of yesteryear—back when only draw and lowball were spread. They actually get a game of lowball here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I was told. It reminded me of a smaller and even seedier version of Artichoke Joes—complete with the attached bar and restaurant. The restaurant had a fair mix of salads, sandwiches, and standard diner entrees like spaghetti and meatballs. There’s free coffee for players. They have a neat promotion going; If you play for just 30 minutes, your meal is comped. Hard to beat that.

I made it back to my room by 2:00 AM, crashed, awoke at 6:00 AM for an early-morning walk, and then drove up north on the way to Oroville and Chico to Brooks, California and the beautiful fullservice casino Cache Creek (14455 Highway 16, Brooks, (530) 796-3118). It has a beautiful poker room, tastefully appointed with gorgeous new tables. They have a beautiful hotel on site as well. Unfortunately, at 10:00 AM there was only one game going—a $4/$8 with a kill limit hold’em game—and it was full. I waited an hour or so before a seat opened up.

This room has the physical potential to be the dominant player in the area. But it seems that Thunder Valley (that I’ll report on in my next installment) is sucking much of the action from these other rooms. Even so, Cache Creek manages to spread some bigger games on Saturday night, when they typically have a $2/$5 and sometimes a $5/10 no limit game, as well as a full schedule of tournaments. Players earn $1/hour in comps (and an extra $4 during the graveyard shift). I had a delicious Asian seafood noodle soup in the restaurant— that is also known for terrific and authentic Filipino food.

Next time: Colusa, 99 Casino, and Feather Falls.

Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-card Stud, both available at He is also the host of the popular poker radio show, House of Cards. For listening times and stations, to get a podcast of the show, or to check out the blog, go to You can email Ashley at

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