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Lucky Chances Casino: A Poker Player Paradise In the Bay Area

$100,000 Guaranteed Gold Rush Event Runs Nov. 13-21

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Nov 09, 2016


If you’re looking for poker action and Las Vegas-style casino games in the Bay area, check out Lucky Chances Casino. The 17,587-square foot casino offers a wide variety of poker and casino games, low rake, and an equally impressive number of tournaments and player promotions.

The facility opened June of 1998 in Colma, California, just 10 miles from downtown San Francisco. The town, known for its large concentration of cemeteries, boasts a plaque at city hall reads, “It’s great to be alive in Colma,” but poker players also agree it’s great to have the 60-table casino so centrally located in the Bay Area.

Lucky Chances was the last card room to open in California before the state-wide moratorium took effect. Rene Medina, the son of a Filipino farmer who immigrated to the United States in 1971, used his last $100 to start a company, Lucky Tours, with a single, leased Greyhound bus to shuttle gamblers from San Francisco to Reno. That morphed into a business empire that caters to the local Filipino community and includes Lucky Chances. Today, Rene’s sons, Rommel and Ruell, run the business.

The casino employs around 600 and Sr. Operations Shift Manager Dustin Chase says about 10 percent are day-one employees, having been with the casino for nearly two decades.

“This has to do with the sense of community, a sense of family we have here,” explained Chase. “It’s always been a great place to work and the Medina family is a great family to work for.”

He added that the Filipino community is tight in the area and many frequent Lucky Chances, thanks in part to the delicious dishes being offered by Filipino cuisine Café Colma, located in the casino and open 24 hours a day.

Poker Action

Lucky Chances is the place to get your poker fix in the Bay Area, whether it’s live cash games or tournament action you crave. Twenty-seven tables spread a variety of games and limits.

“Back in 2002, we were one of the only clubs that spread a no-limit hold’em game. It was a large game; $10-$20 blinds,” said Chase. “Then along comes the WPT. We were a member of the WPT’s first season and, after Moneymaker, the popularity of no-limit hold’em grew tremendously. I decided we needed a smaller no-limit poker game and opened a $1-$1-$2 game with a $40 minimum buy-in so people could experience the rush of pushing in all their chips. We’ve had that game ever since and it was a transformation. We still spread more no-limit hold’em games than anything else, but we remain committed to spreading the games that people want to play and will spread seven-card stud and Omaha high-low on a daily basis.”

The poker room also spreads $3-$5 no limit and $5-$10 no-limit hold’em games. Players love the low rake ($4 house rake and up to $2 for the jackpot collection on no-limit games, $3 maximum for seven-card stud and limit games) and great promotions.

“We utilize a very large portion of our drop, which is lower than anybody, and is dedicated to player-funded promotions,” Chase says. “We offer a “lucky” high-hand promotion quite a few hours of the day. Anyone with four-of-kind or better will be paid. Four-of-kind pays $100, a straight flush $200, a royal flush pays $500, and, as an interesting kicker, aces full of kings, will pay $300.” Throughout the day, every day, Lucky Chances also offers aces and faces cracked, and rack attack promotional cash prizes.

Lucky Chances gives poker players an impressive slate of daily tournaments, seven days a week with buy-ins ranging from $45 to $250 that offer a chance to earn sizable, published first-place guarantees.

“One thing we do differently is first-place guarantees for our tournaments,” Chase says. “Instead of a prize pool guarantee, where you really don’t know what you are playing for, players always know the first-place payout, for every tournament entered at Lucky Chances.”

The largest, most popular event, offered the last Sunday of each month, pays $20,000 to first place. Its a $320 +$30 event with 30-minute rounds, 12,000 to 17,000 starting chips and unlimited re-entry. It usually shatters the guarantee, drawing 260-290 players and paying out more than $30,000 to the winner.

If it’s big guaranteed tournament action you crave, Lucky Chances serves that up as well. Its two major events during the year, Battle of the Bay (April) and the Gold Rush (November) offer six-figure first-place guarantees.

Lucky Chances is currently gearing up for its 2016 Gold Rush event. Running from Nov. 13-21, the marquee event for this series is a $1,080 buy in main event, with $100,000 guaranteed to first place.

“When we guarantee $100,000 to first place, we don’t pull prize money from other payout positions,” Chase added. “If we come up short, we add the money. We don’t believe in any modification of the payout structure.”

If you are looking for more than poker, 33 tables of Vegas-style casino games are offered, including blackjack, baccarat, three-card poker, ultimate Texas hold’em, and more.

“One of the things we do have a bit different with our baccarat is we offer a value added jackpot,” Chase explained. “You don’t have to make any additional wagers. You qualify for the jackpot, which can reach up to and over $40,000 by simply making a wager.“

Tribes Versus Community Card Rooms

It’s been 14 years since Moneymaker made no-limit a household term. Lucky Chances is still trying to thrive but Chase adds that it’s become increasingly difficult.

“The card room industry in California is under attack by the tribal casinos,” he stated. “There used to be nearly 200 card rooms in California and, now, we are down to less than 100 licensed operations. It’s extremely frustrating. All we are trying to do is have a business where the local community can come, enjoy themselves, and have some recreation. And it just seems to me that the tribal community really has one goal and that is to push us out of business so they have the monopoly. They are unwilling to even concede a small, local piece of the pie for the community card room.”

Chase says that community card rooms are losing out due to onerous restrictions tribal gaming operators are exempt from. For example, Chase added, Lucky Chances is not allowed to house bank games.

“The only way for us to survive is to charge a collection fee for the players making a wager, a huge downside compared to the tribal casinos that are allowed to house bank casino games,” he explains. “Since we cannot bank the games, cardrooms contract with outside third party banking services to accommodate guests who expect the Vegas style experience. Even handcuffed by this difficult way to conduct business, we are being forced to modify procedures for how the tables operate, which include stopping play and shutting down tables for a period of time when nobody other than the third party entity is willing to act as the bank.

“So, now,” Chase added, “we are looking at making revisions to our rules. The way they are making us operate…, there is not a rosy outlook on being able to attract new customers compared to the offerings available at tribal casinos.”

But despite any push back Lucky Chances gets from regulators and tribal gaming operators, Chase and his staff remain committed to providing top-notch service at one of the best gambling facilities in the Bay area.

Lucky Chances is located at 1700 Hillside Blvd. Colma, California 94014. For more information, call 650-758-2237 or visit ♠