Playing cards on the Central Coast

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Central Coast Casino is the place for Texas Hold ’emWinner at Central Coast Casino

Discover one of the finest small card rooms in the county in downtown Grover Beach, a few blocks from the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Dave Stearns has been running Central Coast Casino for 16 years. His goal of running a business where both locals and visitors feel at home, without sacrificing the professionalism of the big southern California casinos where he and his wife Theresa worked since the late 1980s, is playing out well.

“We have all sorts of folks that play here,” says Stearns, “ including doctors, lawyers, authors, professional coaches and athletes – we even had a professional bull fighter play with us!” Current champs from the World Poker Tour are known to stop by as well.

Although once a formidable opponent around a card table, Stearns greets visitors in a laid¬ back, approachable style. His usual customers – a fun and motley crew from all walks of life – love the thrill of poker and treat the casino as somewhat of a second home.

Keep it simple, keep it fun

Stearns says learning poker is simple – he plays more by instinct than by mathematical calculation – and he deals a hand of tips that anyone would be wise to hold on to.

“Poker is for two kinds of people, kings and fools, which one are you?” Stearns says he keeps the card room recreational – have fun and never play with money you can’t afford to lose. “I really emphasize responsible card playing,” he says.

In the short-run, Stearns says, poker is 90 percent luck and 10 percent skill; in the long-run it’s the opposite. He advises beginners to stick to a simple game plan: Don’t be afraid to fold.

Know Your Limits

“If you play better than the rest of the people at the table, you will win, slowly, over time,” Stearns says. “The right time to leave is when…you’re the worst player there. You have to be able to evaluate yourself.” The player at a table who continually loses is referred to as a “live one.” “If you look around at the table and you don’t see a ‘live one,’ it’s probably you!”

Playing poker, or any game of chance, has no guarantee of winning; risks are involved, regardless of skill level. Stearns tells players, “Your goal should be to win or lose a little bit. You’re not going to win consistently. Even if you’re really good, you’re not going to win all the time. If it’s not your day, go see a movie. It will cost a lot less, and this game will be here tomorrow.”

Future plans

A major remodel includes plans to add two more tables for a total of six. New games including “Big O” and Blackjack are being planned that will accommodate more players. Stearns is excited about the prospects of growing the business but adds, “Of course I like to have more business, but game quality is much more important to me than game quantity. The success we have is a direct reflection of players being satisfied with our mix of games, promotions, employees, and hospitality. I never want to lose sight of that.”

Central Coast Casino is located at 359 W. Grand Ave. in Grover Beach. For more information, call (805) 474-8500 or visit

– Jamie Relth

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