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Wine Country Cardroom opens quietly in Lodi

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Posted: Monday, May 28, 2007 10:00 pm

The Wine Country Cardroom, railed against by Lodi's religious community for promoting what they consider the sinful act of gambling, opened quietly on Memorial Day to some 30 people who quietly played Texas Hold 'em poker.

Ryan Lewis, who owns the cardroom on South Cherokee Lane with his father and grandmother, David and Natalie Lewis, opened without advertising. In fact, he basically invited his friends, some of whom are in the poker-dealing business.

"I came to check out the place," said Robert Younan of Modesto, who used to deal cards. "My first impression is it's a very, very nice venue in the area. It's nicer than most of the cardrooms in the area."

Before more than 100 people at Carnegie Forum, the Lodi City Council voted 4-1 to approve the cardroom, with Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock casting the lone dissenting vote.

Wine Country Cardroom, located south of Kettleman Lane at 1800 S. Cherokee Lane, has eight tables, four of which were in use Monday afternoon. Cocktail waitresses were serving drinks as players watched sports on three large-screen TVs. There was an ATM in one corner in case players wanted more cash.

Wine Country is suffering from the reputation cardrooms had 30 years ago - sports betting, loan sharking and prostitution, Lewis said. That doesn't happen at his Lodi cardroom or elsewhere for that matter, he said.

"They're not gangsters; they're not gang members," Lewis said.

Lewis emphasized that his business is not a casino, but a cardroom. Except on Indian reservations, casinos are illegal in California because they offer games of chance. Texas Hold 'em poker is a game of skill, Lewis said.

"We have no vested interest in the outcome of the game," Lewis said.

• No cell phones in cardroom, not even by employees.
• Players must protect their hand at all times; they cannot leave cards unattended.
• Players are not allowed to show their cards.
• No throwing cards.
• Do not beg for "lucky money" or passing chips.
• English must be spoken at all tables.
• Do not stand behind or criticize other players.
Source: Wine Country Cardroom.

At casinos, players go against the house when playing blackjack, craps or slot machines, Lewis said. Odds are over the long haul you will lose. Playing Texas Hold 'em in a cardroom, your skill will win out if you're good enough, he said.

A young man who describes himself as a poker dealer from Isleton says it's really a mixture of skill and luck.

"It's about 40 percent luck, 40 percent skill and 20 percent talking out your opponent," said the man, who identified himself only as Y. Webb.

"When you have bad luck days (at Texas Hold 'em), your skill compensates," Webb said.

It's quite odd that Lodi, with more than 63,000 people has only one cardroom.

"I live in Isleton with 900 people, and we have two cardrooms," Webb said.

Players and visitors, who play poker, certainly saw no reason for conservative people to say that a cardroom isn't appropriate for a city like Lodi.

Lewis opened quietly because he is training his 65 to 80 employees, many of whom work only one or two days a week.

Among his staff are a semi-retired man with 15 years experience dealing poker, who works only a couple days per week, and two who have full-time jobs in other careers and deal poker twice a week. Three others are brand new, having come out of card-dealing school, Lewis said.

The building also has a bar on the other end of the building. A restaurant is scheduled to open on Saturday.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 3:15 pm on Wed, Jun 6, 2007.


    Lodian(Jun 5 @ 7:55pm): If "sam" posts her name as "sam" and not "Sam" then that is how you address her. There is different poster that uses the handle, "Sam". Therefore it is preferable to use "sam" when addressing "sam" as it distinguishes the two from one another. GET IT? LOL! (P.S. "sam" is not a pronoun... geez!) Oh, and why do you keep calling me names? Are you five years old? Maybe you need a time out or something.

  • posted at 7:45 am on Wed, Jun 6, 2007.


    lodian.......since when is "Sam" a pronoun?

  • posted at 1:49 pm on Tue, Jun 5, 2007.


    Lodian (4:42), I agree.

  • posted at 11:42 am on Tue, Jun 5, 2007.


    Lodian 9:02am: It's "sam", not "Sam". You would know that if you were the real Lodian. LOL! Now we will see you post with the correct spelling, right? Post on with the use of my handle. I'm sure all enjoy your antics.

  • posted at 5:05 pm on Mon, Jun 4, 2007.


    T & C, Classy people don't call other people names and a liar.

  • posted at 4:15 pm on Mon, Jun 4, 2007.


    You must be talking aboutthe booty dancing blog. 465 comments. You really showed your ass on that one Lodian. How comical.

  • posted at 8:21 am on Mon, Jun 4, 2007.


    sam: If I post something to you, you will definitely know it. I will use my usual handle, Lodian, and nothing else. I'm not afraid to post what I think when it comes to responding to you so don't worry. I am a fast reader, but not fast enough to read/post on one blog and then catch-up/read and post on another blog within a minute. I know you want to hate me, but you'll have to come up with a better reason! LOL! (ya, that last comment was a joke)

  • posted at 6:53 am on Sun, Jun 3, 2007.


    And it is so typical of you to try to make it appear that everyone on here has imposters and issues with people because in your mind that minimizes it. So typical of you that you would go as far as to use other peoples names.I'm sure you've even used this with the LNS when you were on your crusade to make them get a log in system. I really don't think other posters have the issues you have. I have seen you fight with several people.

  • posted at 6:08 pm on Tue, May 29, 2007.


    "CC to Blame" is the new T&C!

  • posted at 9:03 am on Tue, May 29, 2007.


    These facilities (as suggested by Lodian and others) would be built if there was any possibility they could be profitable. The bowling alley closed down because they couldn't make it financially. Everyone wants these facilities but they aren't willing to pay for them or want someone else to shoulder the burden.

  • posted at 7:40 am on Tue, May 29, 2007.


    No matter how much I prepare myself, I am often surpised by the tone and content of those opposed to this business. "CC's" rambling diatribe lacks any rational thought and is a perfect example of why the project was approved.

  • posted at 7:07 am on Tue, May 29, 2007.


    no poker game is a game of "SKILL"! That is just plain stupid! A player is "HOPING" his hand is the best hand....nothing less! Of course the cardroom is gonna open up quietly and "FOR A SHORT TIME"lay "LOW" hoping we will all forget about the "SKILLED" lol players who are gonna be "FLEECED"! Hold onto your lives and property folks, were in for alot of crime very soon!

  • posted at 6:32 am on Tue, May 29, 2007.


    Wow, don't hide your feelings, what do you really think?



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