Stones Spring Classic is April 13-22 in NorCal


Ante Up Magazine West Coast Poker

Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights, Calif., will host its annual Stones Spring Classic (April 13-22) with six no-limit hold’em events running throughout the series.

The first event is a $15K guarantee for $200 on April 13, but then there’s the Chip Amplifier on April 14. It has a $45K guarantee with $120 buy-in, but that can escalate to $550 if you enter the tournament at a later stage.

There’s a $300 bounty event April 15 with a $25K guarantee and April 16 is a $200 Min-Max event with a $15K guarantee.
The signature tourney will be the $450 main event, which sports a $150K guarantee April 19 and will run for four days.

THUNDER VALLEY CASINO RESORT: The Lincoln property, just north of Sacramento, hosted the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder series March 1-6 and had five events.

But the one everyone talked about was the $3,500 main event, which drew players from all over the country and had 440 entries for a $1.4M prize pool.

David Larson of earned the crown and a cool $295K, plus a $15K seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions. The rest of the final-table finishes included Ian Steinman from Carson City, Nev., (second, $201K), Joseph McKeehen from North Wales, Pa., (third, $131K), Ping Liu from Irvine (fourth, $97K), Andreas Kniep from San Francisco (fifth, $69K) and DeJuante Alexander from Houston (sixth, $56K).

The final-table hand that got all the buzz happened between Steinman and McKeehen. Steinman, after six 30-second time extensions, folded pocket kings on the river of an A-5-7-J-K board after McKeehan re-raised all-in holding Q-10.

In other news, the WPT DeepStacks runs until April 9, including a massive $500K guarantee with a $1,100 buy-in April 5. There also is a $560 Celebrity Bounty on April 4 and the largest buy-in of the series is April 8, which be $3,500.

LUCKY CHANCES CASINO: In Colma, the Battle of the Bay series runs April 22-30 with five NLHE events during the week. The first is $600 on April 22 and sports a first-place guarantee of $40K. There are two $350 events with $20K guarantees for first place on April 23 and 25.

April 26 is a $200 turbo with $10K guaranteed for first. The final event costs $1,080 on April 28 ($100K guarantee for first).


ATLANTIS CASINO: The $4-an-hour comps for cash games continue. Speaking of cash games, $3-$5 NLHE spreads mainly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The regular games throughout the week are $3-$6 limit and $1-$2 NLHE.

Don’t forget, the Ante Up Poker Tour is set to make its Reno debut Aug. 16-26, including a $250K guarantee main event.

NUGGET: The bounty freeroll is April 8 at 2 p.m. There will be a list of names at the poker room so players can check if they qualified for the event.

SILVER LEGACY: The Beat The Boss freeroll will be May 4 at 6 p.m. Log 25 hours of live play in April to qualify.

PEPPERMILL CASINO: All games are rake-free daily 10-10:30 a.m. with just the $1 promo drop.

Southern California

Dennis Blieden eliminated Toby Lewis after two hands of heads-up play to win the WPT L.A. Poker Classic and a cool $1M. He topped a field of 493 entries to win the title and a $15K seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
The final table lasted just 79 hands and 4.5 hours. Lewis, fresh off his Aussie Millions Main Event victory for more than $1.1M, finished second and added another $600K to his bankroll.

Other winners of note from the LAPC’s 25th anniversary: Chris Doan won two tournaments and cashed in five others for a total of $92,025 in this series.

Sirous Baghchehsaraie won two Omaha events and Tyler Groth captured two tourneys just 10 days apart, the $1,100 Action Clock for $22,550 and the $1,110 survivor.

Alex Foxen earned $424,625 for taking down Event 63 ($25K high roller) and he recently took second in Las Vegas at the WPT Five Diamond World Classic for $1.13M.

Pacific Northwest

CHINOOK WINDS CASINO: Deals were in the air in Lincoln, Ore. Paul Nguyen of Portland won the PacWest Poker Classic Main Event for $27K after a nine-way deal. The series ended
Feb. 25.

Kao Saechao, also of Portland, won the first event for $19K after a four-way deal. Angela Jordison from Redmond, Ore., won the third event for $7K after a heads-up chop and Dan Beecher from Brush Prairie, Wash., won the fifth event for $8K after a three-way deal.

Tam Nguyen from Salem won the seniors title for $5K after a four-way deal. Other winners included Matthew Jacks from Dayton, Ore., (Omaha/8, $4K), Angel Farrington from Powell Butte, Ore., (Event 10, $3K), Powell Thomas of Portland, (pot-limit Big O, $5K) and Jacob Dahl from Aloha, Ore. won the 13th event for $5K after a 14-way deal.
Chinook Winds has seven tables is closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

WILDHORSE RESORT AND CASINO: April 5-15 is Spring Poker Round Up. No-limit hold’em tournaments cost $125-$1,100, with a two-day $560 main event the second weekend. A $125 HORSE and $230 Big O and Omaha/8 events also are scheduled. A total of $40K will be added to the 15 tournaments, including the three main-event super satellites.

NORTHERN QUEST: In Airway Heights, Wash., the tribal casino’s nine-table poker room hosts its Poker Palooza over the first three weekends in April: The $210 main event is April 1, an $85 event is April 6, a $155 tourney is April 7, a $105 contest is April 8, an $85 event April 13, a $155 tournament April 14 and a $105 event runs April 15.

Northern Quest is the largest poker room in the eastern part of the state (near Spokane) and tied for eighth-largest in the Pacific Northwest, spreading $3-$6 limit and $1-$3 NLHE.

Las Vegas

The Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian in Las Vegas runs May 14-July 29 and is the biggest DSE ever. It’s so big, the May 26-July 6 events will be in the Sands Convention Center. The tournaments before and after will be in the Venetian poker room. The series consists of no fewer than 150 tournaments, offering more than $31M in guarantees.
The series starts with a bang, offering a $340 DoubleStack with two starting flights and a $100K guarantee May 14. The same event repeats May 21.

New this year is the $400 NightStack, which features a $1M guarantee. It has eight starting flights spread out over the series, all starting at 6 p.m. The first Day 1 is May 31 and the last one is June 29. The top 10 percent of each starting field will be in the money and the top 5 percent advance to Day 2 at 5 p.m. on July 1.

The biggest tourneys are Mid-States Poker Tour events with huge guarantees. The $1,100 event with a $3.5M guarantee has the first of its four starting flights June 3. A $3,500 buy-in with three starting flights begins June 25 and has a $3.5M guarantee. In between, a $1,600, three-starting-flight tourney with a $3M guarantee begins June 18.

A $600 SuperStack with two starting flights starts May 31. It guarantees $500K. A three-day version with the same guarantee is June 23. A $600 MonsterStack (35K chips) with a $750K guarantee has five starting flights beginning June 30.

HORSE players can find a $600 tournament with a $50K guarantee June 3. An $800 PLO bounty event runs June 5 and guarantees $88,888. Omaha/8 has its day June 18 for $600 with a $100K guarantee.

The $500 LIPS event runs June 26 with a $40K guarantee. A $600 seniors event, with two starting flights, begins June 12 and features a $600K guarantee.

Right before the summer series, the Venetian hosts and Extravaganza, May 1-6, highlighted by a two-starting flight $340 DoubleStack event with a $100K guarantee beginning May 4.

ARIA: The Aria Poker Classic runs May 26-July 8. The centerpiece is the WPT500, which runs June 25-July 3. There are nine starting flights, three of which are turbos. The buy-in is $570 and the guarantee is $1M.

Like last year, the series heavily features $400 NLHE events in the day and $240 NLHE events at night. But this year, there’s a greater selection of disciplines other than hold’em. The buy-in for these events is $470 and they include eight-game mix (May 30), Omaha/8 (June 2), triple-draw mix (June 3), deuce-to-seven (June 4), PLO (June 7 and 9), HORSE (June 10) Omaha-stud/8 (June 19), triple stud (June 23) and PLO/8 (June 24).

There’s a $300 women’s event July 3 and $470 seniors June 13 and 17. Three two-day, $1,100 NLHE events are June 6, June 20 and July 6.
Aria also hosts the WPT Tournament of Champions, which will kick off with a new event: the $10K WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, a four-day tournament with one re-entry that starts May 20.

GOLDEN NUGGET: The Grand Poker Series runs May 29-July 3. A staple of the event will be a $150 NLHE tournament with a $20K guarantee taking place most days throughout the series at 1 p.m.

The daily 11 a.m. event features a nice variety of $250 non-hold’em events. For example, there’s HORSE on May 30, no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball draw on May 31, Big O on June 5, eight-game mix on June 15 and triple stud on June 26. Toward the end of June, the buy-in on these specialty events bumps to $360. A one-day $570 PLO championship event is June 20.

The $250 seniors event with a $100K guarantee runs June 16. Later that day, a $1K seniors high roller takes place and $250 super seniors (60-plus) goes June 18.

The $150 women’s event is June 25.

Three weekends are devoted to big multi-flight events. The first starts May 31 and has a $150 buy-in and a $150K guarantee. June 7 is the next one, a $200 event with a $250K guarantee. That tournament repeats June 21. All of these events have three starting flights a day beginning on Thursdays with Day 2 on Sunday. The $200 events play down each flight to 10 percent of the field and all players advancing to Day 2 are in the money.

Most evenings feature a $110 NLHE tourney with a $5K guarantee.
The $570 championship has three starting flights beginning June 28 and offers a $500K guarantee.

BELLAGIO: The room hosts WPT’s Elite Poker Championship, April 26-May 6. The $10,400 main event is May 1-6. There are plenty of satellites. A $1,100 seniors event is April 26 and a $1,100 NLHE tourney runs April 27. A $5,200 event goes April 30 and $25,500 high roller event starts May 4.

RED ROCK: The next event in the room’s periodic Climb the Rock series will be April 29. It’s a $300 tournament with a $25K guarantee.

RIO: Kevin Iacofono won the WSOP Circuit main event in February, earning $259K. Nikhil Gera ($160K) took second and Boris Kasabov was third ($118K). The $1,675 event had 887 entrants for a $1.3M prize pool.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at

Meet Steven Sparks

If you’ve played in a tournament in a major poker room in America, there’s a good chance Steven Sparks has pitched a card your way. He has dealt at the Commerce, Hustler and Bay 101, the Rio, Bellagio, Wynn, Venetian, Atlantis Casino, Beau Rivage, Harrah’s Cherokee and Choctaw.

There are so many more, but we need the space to ask him a couple of questions. We caught up with him on his first Ante Up Poker Cruise, where he was the best-dressed player in the room every night.

When did you get started in the poker industry? The first hand of poker I ever dealt came at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, Calif., in October 1997. That’s more than 20 years in the casino gaming industry. Preceding that was a four-year stint as an accountant in Los Angeles and an eight-year stint in real estate and financial services.

What are the best things about dealing poker? Aside from the financial rewards from working in the casino-gaming industry, the friendships acquired along the way and the travel associated with working in poker. — Christopher Cosenza

Ante Up Magazine

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