The California card room is a unique establishment and Bay 101 in San Jose may be one of the most unique. The card rooms are not casinos, there are no slot machines and very few "other" casino games are allowed except for those that are considered "card" games, which generally means Pai-Gow and several multi-player variations. On the poker "side" of the action the games are generally more standard.
Bay 101 has been at its present location for twelve years and it stands as Northern California's premiere example of how a card room should be designed to accommodate the players. The poker side of the room is completely separate from the other games. There is plenty of room both around the tables in the entire facility. Good restaurants with table side service and a very knowledgeable and attentive staff make Bay 101 a very pleasant room to play. Because this is a free standing building there is also lots of available parking in a private, well lit and secure lot.
If there is a drawback to the Bay 101 experience it comes at the hands of the local government. All California card rooms are subject to Local as well as State regulation and the City of San Jose has some strange understanding of how to regulate poker. No Limit poker is not allowed at Bay 101 because of these local regulations. If you are going to play here take some time to acquaint yourself with the fairly bizarre forms of spread limit games that do fall within the gaming guidelines.
The cash games are fairly standard. Limit Hold'em is dealt at $2/$4, $3/$6, $6/$12, $9/$18, $12/$24, $20/$40, $40/$80, $80/$160. These are not just advertised games, every weekend and many weekday nights the $40/$80 games is up and running as are most of the lower limits. Don't ask for any other limits, these are what the law allows. The only Seven Card Stud game on the board is $4/$8 and in recent visits I have only seen a short interest list. The same goes for the $4/$8 and $10/$20 Omaha game, I saw one $4/$8 table forming on a recent weekend and it was clear that the players had arranged to meet up for the game. They also will deal Pan in the poker room but more of that action takes place on the "other" side of the building with the Pai-Gow and Century BlackJack crowd.
The tournament structure is where the betting limit regulations get truly bizarre. The $120 tournaments are spread limit. You begin with 3,000 chips and 25/25 blinds with 25/1000 limit; round two is 25/50 50/2000 limits; round three moves to 50/100 1000/4000 and so on. Basically, spread limit becomes two or three bet no-limit.
The smaller $60 tournament are rebuy events with 500 starting chips and 500 more for each rebuy. Played with the same structure as the 3,000 chip events, these actually play like a no-limit tournament unless you are the chip leader.
The highlight of the Bay 101 calendar is the annual WPT Shooting Star tournament in March. This is the only no-limit event allowed at Bay 101, this year the main event will be March 12-17. The unique aspect of the Shooting Star is the "Star Bounty." Each of the starting 50 tables has a designated "Shooting Star" with a $5,000 cash bounty that is paid at the table when the Star falls. This also means that if you enter the event you are guaranteed to play your first table with one of the big name professionals. Of course, as the tables break down there is a good chance that tables will have more than one Shooting Star bounty up for grabs.
Weekly satellites are running now for the Shooting Star and Super Satellites begin in late February and Mega Satellites begin March 8th. If you would like to see the "Shooting Stars" up close and personal there are two Day Ones on March 12th and 13th; Bay 101 is a very good venue to watch poker.
Bay 101 Card Room 1801 Bering Drive, San Jose, Ca. 95122 408-451-8888