‘Where visitors feel like locals and locals feel like guests’
Spend a few minutes inside Central Coast Casino and you’ll discover what the locals already know – it’s one of the friendliest places around. In fact, it’s been voted San Luis Obispo County’s friendliest poker room for many years and has been the county’s leading card room for nearly two decades.
“We are known for our friendly atmosphere and we welcome visitors and locals alike to come enjoy a game of poker in a special, unique setting,” said owner Dave Stearns. “Our goal is to create a special experience where professionalism and small town charm meet.”
With a motto of, “Where visitors feel like locals and locals feel like guests,” Central Coast Casino boasts friendly, professional dealers and a slew of regular players that Stearns refers to as, “a big cast of characters.” Indeed, the experience Stearns has created draws in many that are united by a love for poker. Most likely, you’ll encounter some interesting folks at the card room, from ditch diggers to doctors, professional athletes, coaches, firemen, professors, and maybe even a professional bullfighter.
Newly remodeled, the card room recently underwent a major overhaul that includes new gaming equipment, comfy leather chairs and additional seating, new tables, paint and decor. Two new outside patios with beautiful gardens welcome players taking a break from competition.
“Our customers love the upgrades and they enjoy playing in comfort,” says Stearns. “We have visitors from across the United States and beyond that discover us while vacationing in the area.”
Regulars such as Bob Busick, known among his fellow players as “Key Card Bob,” can be found gathering around the card tables on a near-nightly basis engaging in two of the most popular games at the card room, Big O Hi-Lo Split and Texas Hold ‘Em.
The dealers, the games, the clean atmosphere, and the scrumptious dinners prepared six days a week by Theresa Stearns keep 90-year-old Busick coming back for more.
“I like the atmosphere, I like the players, and the dealers are great,” says Busick. “And the food, well, it’s the best around; Theresa is an excellent cook.”
Theresa Stearns is famous throughout the county for her dishes prepared with an Asian or Hawaiian flair. Seated players enjoy everything from steak, roast beef and chicken to lasagna, veggies, and salad. In the early hours, she serves sandwiches, pastries, seasonal fruit, cake, and more; the later evening brings ice cream and other desserts.
Stearns holds a Bachelors Degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and opened Central Coast Casino back in 1998 after spending many years in Los Angeles-based casinos where he worked his way up from dealer to house player to casino manager. As a player, he once placed fifth in the World Series of Poker and won the “Rags to Riches” tournament at the Commerce Casino, earning the state’s biggest payout at the time.
He credits his success not only to his background, but also to the loyalty of his employees and customers.
“We have the best dealers anywhere and floor people anywhere and they are all here in this little hometown card room,” says Stearns. “Some of my employees have been working with me for 25 years. As for our customers, I can’t say enough…without their support we’d have nothing.”
Stearns offers complimentary lessons daily that stress responsible card playing. He starts off every lesson with: “Poker is for two kinds of people, kings and fools – which one are you?” The point he’s trying to make is, simply, don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose. Calling poker “one of America’s favorite pastimes,” he adds, “We want people to appreciate the excitement of a good, competitive game but we also want to educate them on the dangers of losing control.”
It’s sort of a social club, according to the regulars – stop by Central Coast Casino and before long you will know everyone’s name and be welcomed into the mix. With a crowd of all different ages and backgrounds, from beginners to the more experienced players, everyone is welcome at SLO County’s friendliest poker room.
Central Coast Casino specials
Complimentary VIP chip for first-time visitors
Free poker tournament buy-in for first-time visitors
Daily Poker Tournaments at 10 a.m. for as little as $10
Fantastic Fridays: $40 tournament at 10 a.m. House adds $500!
Super Saturdays: Buy-in tournament with $500 first place guaranteed
Stop by Central Coast Casino, located at 4th and Grand Ave. in Grover Beach (next to Mongo’s Saloon) Monday through Saturday; call (805) 474-8500 or check out slopoker.com for more information.
– Meagan Friberg