Poker Room Review: Oaks Card Club, Emeryville, California
The Bay Bridge crosses San Francisco Bay from the City of San Francisco on the west side to what city on the east side? Most non-Bay Area residents might guess Oakland or perhaps Berkeley as the east terminus of the Bay Bridge but the correct answer is Emeryville, the home of the Oaks Card Club since the 1930s.
Unlike several of the other card clubs in the Bay Area you can play no-limit games in Emeryville, which may be why the Oaks may be the busiest club in the area. Many California card clubs labor under local gaming restrictions that restrict the betting limits and create some unusual cash game and tournament structures. Freed from those limitations, the management at the Oaks Card Club has become creative with their tournament offerings.
First and foremost in the "innovative" category is the Second Saturday of the Month tournament. In December, the Oaks held a Seven Card Stud tournament. Yes, you read that right a Seven Card Stud tournament with $1,000 added; $50 +$15 with one rebuy and one add-on. I dare you to find another Stud tournament anywhere west of the Edmund Hoyle Retirement Home in Sarasota, Florida.
In January, the Second Saturday tournament is Omaha Hi/Lo. For a few months beginning in February the Second Saturday event will become a WSOP Limit tournament with the winner receiving a seat in a 2007 WSOP Limit event. Once the Series is underway in June, the Second Saturday event will go back to offering games that are not often seen on the regular tournament schedule, the offerings later this year are rumored to be HORSE, Stud, Omaha/8 and there are even rumors of a Razz tournament.
There are two other regular but not standard tournaments each week at the Oaks. Wednesday evening is the long running Limit Hold'em event ($50 + $15, one rebuy & one add-on). Arrival early to be assured of a seat, it's a maximum ten table event and it does sell out often; alternates are taken but in a limit event that can be a long wait.
The Sunday tournament is the highlight of the Oaks tournament schedule. During the later half of the year (July-December) this is the "Player of the Year" tournament. No Limit Hold'em $80 + $20 with one $60 rebuy and one $60 add-on. Points are kept for finishing in the money and $15,000 is divided among the top five point leaders just before the holidays each December. The Sunday event during the first half of the year (January-June) has a WSOP theme. This year the event is a No-Limit Hold'em $100 + $25 with one $100 rebuy. The winner receives a no-limit seat in a 2007 WSOP event in addition to the regular prize pool distribution. Play in 75% of the tournaments (12 of 16) and get a seat in a $20,000 freeroll in May. Also the top 75 players, based on money finishes, earn "added chips" for the freeroll.
Yes, these tournaments are loaded with regulars but they are also a lot of fun to play as they are loaded with "ladder climbers."
There are a few interesting "local" rules at the Oaks:
- All tournaments are "played to a final player". They don't allow deals because of the points for the various freerolls and other add-ons.
- While add-ons usually come at the end of the first three rounds (one hour) if you bust out and have already taken your rebuy, you may elect to take your add-on and continue playing.
- Tournaments are limited to 10 tables unless slow cash game action leaves additional tables.
- If Mary Jane check-raises you on the river, you should fold. That may not actually be a local rule but from my experience it's a really good idea.
Oaks Card Club 4097 San Pablo Ave. Emeryville, CA 94608 510.653.4456