Located in Bell Gardens, California, the Bicycle Casino, more commonly referred to simply as “The Bike” is one of the most famous card-rooms in the United States and has been an iconic name in the poker world for three decades.
History of “The Bike”
The Bicycle Casino opened its doors on November 30, 1984, and almost immediately managed to become a well known property, even before California’s poker expansion in the mid-1980’s.
When the Bicycle Casino opened in 1984 the only game legally allowed in California was Draw Poker, but many card-rooms were also spreading Holdem poker at this time (the game had surged in popularity in nearby Nevada) which led to a legal dispute between the state and the card-rooms.
Draw poker had been officially legal in California since the early 20th century, and in 1987, after an appellate court ruling, California card-rooms were legally allowed to offer other variants like Stud, which had been expressly banned in California dating back to 1911. With the ruling Stud Poker, Texas Holdem, and Omaha joined Draw Poker games, and the “California Poker Rush” was officially on. The entire California poker landscape changed after this ruling with the Bicycle Casino as one of the first benefactors.
During the 1990’s and 2000’s the Bicycle Casino was one of the must-visit card-rooms in the world, with the casino attracting celebrities from nearby Los Angeles, and of course the poker pros eager to take them on.
George Hardie and his vision
The Bike was the vision of George Hardie Sr.—a 2012 Poker Hall of Fame finalist—who brought the card-room to prominence during his time at the helm. During its heyday, in the mid to late 1980’s, the Bicycle Casino was the largest cardroom in the world thanks to Hardie’s leadership and creative ideas such as offering “guarantees” for tournaments held at the casino.
In a time when this wasn’t always a given, the Bicycle Casino was known for running honest games and was frequented by many of the biggest names in poker.
Hardie is one of the most interesting and colorful characters in poker history, as this LA Times articles attests to.
The Bike in modern times
The modern Bicycle Casino features a 100-table non-smoking poker room with table-side food and beverage service. The poker room at the Bike offers jackpots, multiple televisions around the room, and wi-fi service.
There are plenty of amenities away from the tables as well. The Bike offers several spa services, dining options, and bars on the property as well as valet parking.
While it’s no longer one of the jewels of the poker world, the Bicycle Casino is still a terrific card-room, and has remained relevant with new creative ideas such as their Live at The Bike online telecast (more on this below).
Where They Stand Now in the Poker World
The Bicycle Casino is still a prominent card-room in the eyes of the poker community, and one of the key stops for several poker tours. Although it has given some ground to competitors like The Commerce, don’t sleep on the Bike, especially if online gambling is passed in California. The casino has a terrific brand and a solid reputation it can leverage.
With 100 dedicated poker tables for cash-games, and a total of 190 tables when you count tournaments and casino card game tables like Pai Gow and Three Card Poker, the Bicycle Casino is still one of the largest and most heavily trafficked card-rooms in California, and therefore in the world.
In addition to their robust daily tournament schedule, with buy-ins ranging from $30 to $90, The Bike currently hosts several exclusive tournament series as well as tournament series for the following tours:
- World Series of Poker Circuit Events
- World Poker Tour Legends of Poker
- Cardplayer Poker Tour
- LA Poker Series
- Winning O’ the Green
- Mega Millions Series
- WSOP Academy seminars
Here is a glimpse at the daily tournament schedule at The Bike.
Like most casinos and card-rooms, The Bike offers their players a rewards program where players earn points that can then be used at the casino. The Bicycle Casino Player’s Club and its Custom Card allow players to earn 1 point for every hour they play at The Bike, equivalent to about $1 in comps.
Live at the Bike
As mentioned above, The Bike offers a live televised cash game feed known as Live at the Bike. The regularly scheduled game draws professional players thanks to the exposure from the live feed, and with a wide assortment of stakes and formats the Live at the Bike feed has a little something for everyone.
Handicapping Their Chances for Online Poker
The Bicycle Casino is definitely on board when it comes to online gambling, and with their storied history and prominence in California, The Bike should be one of the top online destinations for California poker players if and when California passes an iGaming bill.
The Bicycle Casino was a part of the now defunct COPA (California Online Poker Association) and is a member of the California Gaming Association which has backed online gambling expansion in the state.
The Bike has the name as well as the resources to get involved in online poker in California and would make an appealing partner for an online gaming site.