Cung wins inaugural Ante Up Poker Tour stop at Thunder Valley

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By Garrett Roth

The inaugural Ante Up Poker Tour series is in the books as Thunder Valley Casino Resort set the bar high with its nine-event Ante Up NorCal Classic, which ran Nov. 19-Dec. 3 in Lincoln, Calif. The series included Omaha/8, H.O.R.S.E. and various no-limit hold’em events capped off with the $1,100 main event, which went to Huan Cung of Sacramento.

The NorCal Classic meant a lot to locals because it was the first large tournament series in the Sacramento area. Thunder Valley’s director of poker Ben Erwin said, “Players traveled from all over California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada to be part of the inaugural Ante Up Poker Tour series. Northern California has a huge poker player base and they were ready for a national event series like this.”

Local players took over most of the top spots in the NorCal Classic with exception to the H.O.R.S.E. event, won by Ante Up’s Scott Long of Safety Harbor, Fla. When the dust settled in the main event, the prize pool ballooned to $342K and Cung earned $73K, the title of AUPT champion and landed on the cover of this issue.

The rest of the final table included Toan Nguyen (second, $68K), Dragem Vang (third, $33K), 2010 Ante Up Player of the Year Walt Strakowski Jr. of West Palm Beach, Fla., (fourth, $26K), Bas Pansuntorn (fifth, $20K), Paul Dias (sixth, $17K), Tay Nguyen (seventh, $13K) and Johnny Mora (eighth, $10K). And one other cash of note: Candida Ross-Powers of Sacramento, who won Thunder Valley’s Players Championship in August, finished 10th for $5,130.

When asked about the size of the field, Erwin said, “We felt that we could draw somewhere around 250 players but to have 342 was truly remarkable, especially being our first $1K buy-in.” And especially since one of the largest snow storms in recent memory hit the area, keeping many players at bay.
Thunder Valley was the perfect spot to hold the first Ante Up Poker Tour series. Its resort is pristine and its 21-table poker room is state of the art, filled with flatscreen TVs, new tables, energetic dealers and an incredible staff.

When it comes to running tournaments, Erwin and the Thunder Valley staff put the players’ concerns before anything else.

“Our guests deserve the credit for the enhancements that have been made to each series. Our approach has always been that we are in this together. I welcome feedback and enjoy discussing our events with anyone that participates.”

Because of the turnout of the events and the confidence he has in the series, Erwin and his staff are planning on running satellites for all future AUPT events.

“We’re truly grateful this event was so successful and it has really created a lot of talk and excitement about the Ante Up Poker Tour,” Erwin said. “Many of our participants are already planning for the next AUPT event at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas (this) month.”

The AUPT will return to Thunder Valley Casino Resort the first week in November, which will be the final stop of the AUPT’s inaugural season.

AUPT ANTE UP NORCAL CLASSIC WINNERS

Event 1 • $100 NLHE
Entrants: 171 • Pool: $13,680
1. Shannon Kahahane, Lincoln, Calif., $2,066
2. Allan Fernando, Elk Grove, Calif., $2,066
3. Abdul Kocer, Lincoln, Calif., $2,066
4. Michael Mendonsa, Sacramento, $2,065
5. N/A
6. Cheng Vang, Sacramento, $684
* Only cashers who signed Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s publicity release are listed.

Event 2 • $100 Omaha/8
Entrants: 82 • Pool: $7,544
1. Andrew Grove, Dublin, Calif., $2,465
2. Thomas Emerson, Sacramento, $1,509
3. Tom Tseng, Sacramento, $981
4. Rick Byers, Elk Grove, Calif., $754
5. George Hammond, Fresno, Calif., $490
6. N/A
7. N/A
8. S.A. Malin, Penn Valley, Calif., $226
9. Johnny Mora, Orangevale, Calif., $189
10. Harold Charvat, Roseville, Calif., $151

Event 3 • $125 NLHE
Entrants: 160 • Pool: $16K
1. Nasrullah Afridi, Sacramento, $4,800
2. Corey Strock, Mountain House, Calif., $2,800
3. Scott Jones, Concord, Calif.,  $1,760
4. Cheng Vang, Sacramento,  $1,440
5. Joseph Hobbs, Lincoln Calif.,  $960
6. Ted Salman, Sacramento,  $800
7. Zijin Tan, Elk Grove Calif.,  $640
8. Andrew Purcell, Rocklin, Calif.,  $480
9. Pakwai Tam, Sacramento.,  $400
10. Bruce Angeski, Sacramento, $320

Event 4 • $100K guarantee ($450 NLHE)
Entrants: 369 • Pool $147,600
1. Samuel Hudson, Sacramento, $18,290
2. Harlan Karnofsky, Sacramento, $18,290
3. Allen Fernando, Elk Grove, Calif., $18,290
4. Matt Boddorf, Lincoln, Calif., $18,290
5. Sean Drake, Folsom, Calif., $18,290
6. Stuart Crooks, N. Highlands, Calif., $7,000
7. David Silva, Winters, Calif., $5,600
8. Kao Vang, Pleasant Grove, Calif., $4,250
9. Joshua Shaw, Sacramento, $2,800

Event 5 • $100 Bounty
Entrants: 180 • Pool: $14,400
1. Shawn Roberts, Rocklin, Calif., $2,500
2. Bernie Serrano, Daly City, Calif., $1,724
3. Chris Markos, Glendale, Calif., $1,724
4. Ed Miller, Granite Bay, Calif., $1,666
5. Roberto Devera, Fairfield, Calif., $1,665
6. Gurpal Lally, Sacramento, $1,665
7. Donna Delfin, Folsom, Calif., $576
8. Greg Berniard, Sacramento, $432
9. Marcus Sanders, Oroville, Calif., $360

Event 6 • $120 H.O.R.S.E.
Entrants: 51 • Pool: $5,100
1. Scott Long, Safety Harbor, Fla., $1,732
2. Paul Lillemo, Shingle Springs, Calif., $906
3. George Barrett, Rocklin, Calif., $905
4. Brian Watson, Lodi, Calif., $510
5. Kevin Nathan, Roseville, Calif., $357
6. Randy Smith, Livermore, Calif., $281
7. N/A
8. Rudy Robledo, Sacramento, $179
 
Event 7 • $100 6-Max
Entrants: 107 • Pool: $8,560
1. Aaron Perkins, Sacramento, $1,559
2. Shannon Kahahane, Lincoln, Calif., $1,559
3. Dennis Carlson, Folsom, Calif., $1,559
4. Kelly Fountain, Plumas Lake, Calif., $1,559
5. Kevin Nathan, Roseville, Calif., $556
6. Matthew Stump, Rocklin, Calif., $428
7. Michael Mendonsa, Sacramento, $342
8. Shawn Roberts, Rocklin, Calif., $257

Event 8 • $150 Bounty
Entrants: 210 • Pool: $16,800
1. Ryan Ordonez, Rocklin, Calif., $2,436
2. Ali Gousheh, Fair Oaks, Calif., $1,886
3. Derick Nakayama, Sacramento, $1,706
4. Steve Silva, Turlock, Calif., $1,706
5. Ken Moynahan, Vacaville, Calif.,$1,706
6. Nathan Bolinger, Oakdale, Calif., $1,706
7. Bao Liu, Sacramento, $1,706
8. John Duckworth, Wilton, Calif., $504

$1,100 Main Event
Entrants: 342 • Pool: $342K
1. Huan Cung, Sacramento, $73K
2. Toan Nguyen, Elk Grove, Calif., $68,585
3. Hou Vang, Rocklin, Calif., $33,685
4. Walter Strakowski, W. Palm Beach Fla., $26,500
5. Bas Pansuntorn, Amer. Canyon, Calif., $20,520
6. Paul Dias, Sacramento, $17,100
7. Tay Nguyen, Elk Grove, Calif., $13,680
8. Johnny Mora, Orangevale, Calif., $10,260
9. N/A
10. Candida Ross-Powers, Sacramento, $5,130