by Ashley Adams
My poker-playing buddy Andrei and I were nearing the final quadrant of this circular poker playing tour we had been on for five days. We had flown from Boston to San Francisco on a Saturday, driven east and north to Chico, then south through Sacramento, Stockton, and the Napa Valley, before heading west through Livermore and Tracy to San Jose. We played poker all the way, in about 23 rooms.
Once in San Jose, our first port of call there was the Bay 101 Casino. It is a huge, modern, grand poker palace – along the lines of the Commerce in Los Angeles. The room is divided into two halves, with a large lobby and enormously high ceilings. On the left are a myriad of “California Games” like baccarat, blackjack, pai gow tiles, and 3-card poker. I watched these games briefly – but moved quickly over to the poker side.
On this Wednesday afternoon, all of the room’s 32 poker tables were full. There was a waiting list for every game. There were four $1/2/2 no limit hold’em games ($40 to $200 buy-in), four $2/3/5 no limit hold’em games ($200 to $500 buy-in), two $2/3/5 deep stacks ($500 to $1,500 buy-in), two $5/10/10 games ($1,000 to $2,500 buy-in). That was their no limit section. Over in limit they had the following: five $3/6 games, three $6/12 games, five $8/16 with a half kill games, three $20/40 games, two $40/80 games, and then two $4/8 with a half kill Omaha8 games. There were also interest lists for $80/160 limit hold’em and a $10/25 no limit game.
I had a great sessions, playing some $2/3/5 no limit and then, joining by buddy Andrei at $3/6 limit, I won $350 in about an hour. Yes, I was hit by the deck, getting a straight flush and quads on successive hands – with action all the way.
In addition to all of the cash games, there is a tournament every day. They also have a big annual Shooting Star Tournament – made famous by the many celebrity professional poker players who participate. If you knock any of them out of the tourney you win a substantial bounty.
I was intrigued to find some interesting local ordinances in San Jose. For one, the casino is not allowed to offer any enticements to players. No player’s cards; no free rooms; no free drinks. The only comps they are allowed to dole out are those that they give to members of the public as well – even those who aren’t playing. So all that you’ll get for free is coffee and tea.
There is also a local ordinance that limits the duration of your session. A conspicuous sign is posted as required by local law. It reads, “It is a violation of the San Jose Municipal Code and gaming regulations for any patron to remain on the cardroom premises longer than 20 hours without at least a four hour absence. Any person violating this provision will be subject to citation or arrest for trespass.”
They told me that they actually enforce the provision. It’s not surprising that people might be tempted to stick around longer than allowed. It’s a really comfortable spot. Floor staff greet players by name. The room is luxurious and spacious. There are chip runners – and the dealers that I watched and played with were excellent. The action is excellent. There’s terrific, multi-ethnic food including a $4.75 breakfast, $7-$10 daily special of Filipino, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and Vietnamese food (not to mention good old American food). With tableside food service, all of this can be brought to you while you play.
Fortunately, for those who want to continue to take advantage of the great action and terrific amenities, there is a great and inexpensive place to stay right next to the poker room – the Staybridge Suite. It’s only $89 a night if you ask for the poker rate.
With all of this, is there any wonder that Bay 101 is growing. I was told that by January 2017 they’re planning to move into they’re moving to a place that’s thirty percent bigger.