Bay 101 is a casino that is much older than many would expect. While it is in an entirely different location today, the casino was originally opened in 1929. In recent years there has been a lot of news and development at Bay 101. If you are a poker player, you likely recognize it best as the host of the Shooting Star WPT Event, but the casino has a large offering of table games as well, though they charge fees which make it difficult to win.
Bay 101 is also well known as the direct competitor of M8trix Casino which sits directly across the street. In recent years, the competition between the two has helped to increase the overall landscape of the card room scene in the Bay Area as a whole. Other local competition for Bay 101 most notably includes Lucky Chances, though it is around a 40 minute drive.
There are a number of big changes coming to Bay 101 in the near future. With its lease ending, Bay 101 was forced in 2015 to find a new location for its sprawling property. Though it is not yet live, plans have been released by the casino for their new building. If M8trix is any indication, the odds are that the new casino will have a very modern and high end focus, especially as the competition for customers in the area intensifies more and more each year.
Casino at Bay 101
Perhaps the biggest advantage to playing at Bay 101 vs. one of your other options in the area is found in the large amount of tables and dealers. Some of the local rooms are suffocated by the amount of tables that they are allowed to offer. These are due to gaming regulations, as the rooms undoubtedly would be adding more tables if they were allowed to. With that said, Bay 101 does have a very significant amount of both poker and gaming tables. This means that you will be able to more easily get a seat in the game of your choice, whether that is a house game or in the poker room.
Rules at Bay 101
The rules at Bay 101 are California rules. These vary from what you will find at Indian casinos where slots, craps and roulette are allowed. Bay 101 is required to charge a fee per wager made for all of the table games that are offered, which include blackjack, baccarat, pai gow, and 4 card poker. This makes playing table games very disadvantageous for the player.
Atmosphere & Entertainment
The atmosphere at Bay 101 may be its biggest downside. There seems to be a generally flat and boring feel at Bay 101 which never seems to really go away. When you go to M8trix, for example, you will encounter an exciting, upbeat, and active environment. At Bay 101, however, there is no music playing and the clientele can frequently be found in a less than stellar mood. This may go hand in hand with the age of the room itself, as it has been around for many decades at this point.
Nevertheless, Bay 101 is much more of a card room and poker room than it is an actual entertainment destination. We would not recommend this casino as the place to bring your friends if you are hoping to have a good time. If you are a poker player, then yes, the casino is a good fit, but it can not exactly be described as exciting.
Poker at Bay 101
As many poker players know, the Shooting Star event on the World Poker Tour is one of the most popular, year in and year out, and it is hosted at Bay 101. The event takes place around early March, with a handful of preliminary events accompanying the main event. Likely due to the WPT events, Bay 101 has become the go to poker room for tournament players in the Bay Area. Every time you visit Bay 101, you will likely find a poker tournament running. Whether you are looking for a low limit, daily event, or a larger buy in tournament, Bay 101 is your best bet.
In terms of cash games, Bay 101 is around the middle of the road relative to the competition. For the most part, the biggest games running are 2/3/5 No Limit. The staple of Bay 101, however, is Limit Texas Holdem. This is a game that has been dying slowly since the poker boom of 2002-2004, but this room is one of the last remaining places where you can find consistent action at higher limits. 40/80 and larger games can frequently be found running and players can jump in with ease.
In terms of No Limit games, 2/3/5 runs with a $500 max buy in, but a 2/3/5 deep variant also exists with a $2,000 max buy in. Often times this deep game will end up running with a straddle, which turns it into a 2/3/5/10 game. Yes, that is a lot of blinds, and it is a bit much. It would be preferable for the game to run simply as 5/10, but California rooms instead tend to adopt the 3 blind format.
The floor and management of Bay 101 may be its biggest downfall. Some of the staff seems to be “tenured” and does not particularly care about running a fair and efficient room. There have been many instances where the floor has expressed an outright disinterest in making a situation right, or figuring out what the right ruling is. Unfortunately this is the case at many rooms around the world, and it would be unfair to say that Bay 101 is “the worst,” or anything near it, but they can certainly use some improvement.
Dining and Bars at Bay 101
Food and drink is not an area where Bay 101 excels. The pricing on tableside food is a bit high, and the bar is very slow and struggles to operate smoothly. You should not go to the bar (located next to the high limit room) unless you have some time to spare. The bar also has a bit of a dated, musty, and well, bar feel to it. Needless to say, the smell of Coors Light stuck to the floor is not terribly enticing.
There is a cafe available in addition to the bar food, but again, it is very average. There is a lot of food available nearby, so if you are looking for something closer to the lines of fine dining, we would suggest taking a short ride, as there are many better options in San Jose.
Other Bay 101 Notes
Alcohol is never given away for free at Bay 101 per California casino rules. With that said, the pricing for drinks is relatively fair, and they do run specials from time to time, so we would encourage you to ask what discounts may be available.
There is currently not a hotel on site at Bay 101. There is some speculation that the new casino location will also include a hotel, but this is not yet confirmed. If you are looking to stay in the area, San Jose does have a number of hotels available.