Thunder Valley stays busy in NorCal


Ante Up Magazine West Coast Poker

More than $2M in guarantees will be on the line as the WPT DeepStacks Season Championship will run March 19-April 7 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif. The $2,500 championship event has a $1M guarantee and is April 4-7. 

The series also includes a $500K guarantee WPTDS main event March 26-29, along with $100K guarantees for the $160 Catapult (March 19-22), the $260 Action8 (March 23-25) and the $560 Leaning Tower of Chips (April 2-3).

The annual Thunder Buddies event features a celebrity bounty tournament, a golf outing and a reception at High Steaks Steakhouse, all for $570. 

The WPT Rolling Thunder series runs until March 10, highlighted by the $5K main event March 7-10. The Rolling Thunder series also includes a two-flight $200K guarantee for $1,100 (March 4-6) and $100K guarantee for $1,100 March 6. 

March 1 is a $540 satellite with 20 main-event seats guaranteed. 

BAY 101 CASINO: Among the $2K bounties in the $5,250 Shooting Star are Alex Foxen, Darren Elias, Bryn Kinney, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Jamie Kerstetter, Kristen Bicknell, Loni Harwood, Lexy Gavin, Maria Ho, Danielle Moon-Anderson, Mason Hinkle, Moshin Sharania, Ryan Laplante, Faraz Jaka, Todd Brunson, Brian Altman, Ali Imsirovic, Craig Varnell, Mark Newhouse, James Carroll, Matt Salsberg, Shannon Shorr, Anthony Zinno and Tim West. 

The tournament, one of the most popular for players and railbirds, is March 11-15 as around 200 players are anticipated to win their way into the tournament through satellites.

BLACK OAK CASINO: Ex-World Series of Poker champ Greg Raymer returned in early February for three days of poker clinics and he played in the poker room for five days, wrapping up on Super Bowl Sunday.

LUCKY CHANCES CASINO: Paul Nguyen ($16,270) and Rellie Sigua ($13,020) took the top two spots in a six-way deal during January’s $630 Last Sunday of the Month $150K guarantee. Players start with 17K stacks and get 30-minute levels in this end-of-month tournament.

CLUB ONE CASINO: Every Sunday is a $7,500 guarantee for $100, with 12K stacks and 20-minute levels. Cards go in the air at this Fresno cardroom at 1:15 p.m.

JACKSON RANCHERIA: Sundays feature the largest buy-in tournament on the property’s daily tournament schedule: a $100 event with 15K stacks starting at 10:30 a.m. Other weekday tournaments are $30-$60 and feature NLHE, Omaha, Big O and crazy pineapple.


PEPPERMILL: Jason Somerville’s Run It Up series will be April 3-13. The $440 mini-main event kicks off with Day 1A on April 3 at noon. Day 1B is April 4 at noon. There’s a $100K guarantee for this event.

ATLANTIS CASINO: Winners of all daily tournaments get entry into a monthly $5K freeroll. Also, ask how you can win cash on the Monday night Money Poker Party Board.

SILVER LEGACY: The popular Sunday 1 p.m. deepstack costs $65 and has late registration and re-entry through Level 6.

Southern California

Jennifer Gianera of San Diego after a five-way chop recently pocketed $38,695 and an HPT title on the high seas. 

There were 220-plus entries in the $1,100 event for a $214,370 prize pool. 

Another Southern California player took fourth: Sam Kaplan of Brea earned $20,034. Rounding out the top five were Ray Schulze ($28,343); Jim Reynolds ($24,998), and Neil Peters ($19,550). 

JAMUL CASINO: The San Diego-area poker room Monday-Friday has $1K guarantees at

10 a.m. for $30) with $10 rebuys and an optional $20 add-on. On Saturdays, there’s a  $1.5K guarantee at 10 a.m. for $40) with just one $40 rebuy and an optional $20 add-on. 

As for promotions, ask about the progressive bad-beat jackpot, the TV and motorcycle giveaways and see the ad on the next page. 

GARDENS: The final table for the WPT Gardens Championship has been set. This $10K event drew 257 players for a prize pool of $2.46M. 

The final six players will resume play at the first televised WPT final table of the season at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas on March 31. 

Though they’re all guaranteed a $111,795 payday, top prize is $554,495, including a $15K season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions seat.

The final table will be Straton Wilhelm, Markus Gonsalves, Qing Liu, Tuan Phan, Jonathan Cohen and Chance Kornuth.

OCEAN’S 11: The San Diego Classic drew 845 entries for $233,900 prize pool. But the winner refused to give his name.

Fourth-place finisher Adrianne Hall finished third in this same event last January. This time she earned $16,059. 

Runner-up Tai Reyes-Purpero, who placed third here in July 2019, earned $21,840. Christopher Thomas took third for $19,915 and Eugene Taiblaum was fifth for $15,675.     

BICYCLE HOTEL AND CASINO: The WSOPC is back at the Bike until March 31. This series hosts 13 ring events, costing $250-$3,250 with $40K-$250K guarantees. 

The $1,700 main event has two flights, March 15 and 16 at noon. It runs three days.

Other events of interest include the $3,250 high roller, which has a $200K guarantee and is a two-day event that begins March 17 at 2, and Event 2, a $400 Monster Stack that sports a $250K guarantee. The tourney has four Day 1s (March 8 and 9, 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. both days) and is a three-day event. For the full schedule, be sure to visit or

PECHANGA RESORT CASINO: See the ad on Page 39 of the current issue for information on $10K drawings March 14 and 28. 

Las Vegas

David Levy of Denver and Francis Rusnak of Las Vegas chopped the top prize in the $1,100 championship of the Wynn Signature Series in January, each taking home $86K. Washington’s Ryan Stoker earned $46K for third. The event drew 516 players and had a $505K prize pool, smashing the $400K guarantee.

The Wynn Spring Classic runs through March 18. A $1,600 event with three Day 1s begins March 5 and has a $1M guarantee. A $1,100 tourney with four Day 1s starts March 9 and has a $500K guarantee.

The three-day $5,300 championship is March 16 and has a $1M guarantee. Satellites are offered for all of these events.

A $550 tournament runs March 14 with a $100K guarantee and there’s a $1,600 PLO bounty event ($500 bounties) with a $50K guarantee March 15.

BALLY’S: The WSOPC runs March 19-30. The first three ring events all have three starting flights on the same day. In each case, the first two flights have 30-minute levels and the last

Day 1 flight of the day has 20-minute levels. The opening event is $250 with a $50K guarantee. The next day, March 20, the buy-in is $400 and the guarantee is $75K. That’s followed by a $600 tournament March 21 with a $100K guarantee. All of these events conclude the next day.

There’s a $250 women’s event March 25 and a $250 seniors event March 26, which has a $25K guarantee. A $400 Monster Stack with 30K chips has a $150K guarantee and runs March 25. All of these are two-day events.

The $1,700 main event has two starting flights beginning March 27 and has a $750K guarantee. A two-day, $2,200 high roller starts March 29 with a $150K guarantee.

VENETIAN LAS VEGAS: The Deepstack Showdown will run March 9-29. The highlight is a $5K WPT event that begins March 13. It has two starting flights and four playing days. The guarantee is $2M.

A $400 Monster Stack with two Day 1s begins March 16 and has a $100K guarantee. A $600 Monster Stack with three starting flights begins March 10 and has a $200K guarantee.

The $1,600 Ultimate Stack (40K chips) has two Day 1s beginning March 25 and offers a $400K guarantee.

The next Deep Stack Extravaganza follows soon thereafter, running April 6-26. The series kicks off with a $400 Double Stack with two starting flights. Players start with 25K chips and play 30-minute levels Day 1, increasing to 40 minutes Day 2. The guarantee is $100K.

A $600 Ultimate Stack has two starting flights beginning April 10. Stacks are 40K and again, the levels are 30 minutes Day 1 and 40 minutes Day 2. A $400 Monster Stack has two Day 1s beginning April 13. Players start with a 30K stack and play 40-minute levels.

The $600 Monster Stack that starts April 16 has three starting flights. Stacks are 35K, levels are 40 minutes and the guarantee is $200K. If you’d like to play for a $250K guarantee for $340, the five-starting-flight Double Stack starting April 21 is your event. The stack is 25K and the levels are 40 minutes.

There are three opportunities for Omaha lovers to test their skill. A $300 one-day PLO tourney runs April 6. Players start with 20K chips and the guarantee is $10K. A $300 PLO/8 with the same details runs April 10. There’s also a $300 PLO bounty event April 23 ($100 bounties).

A one-day, $400 seniors event runs April 9. The starting stack is 15K, levels are 30 minutes and the guarantee is $20K. There are two $80 Survivor tournaments, representing the cheapest buy-in for a DSE event in years. These run April 9 and April 16. Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels. The tournament ends 10 percent of the field remains, each survivor getting $600. The guarantee is $1,200.

ARIA: The U.S. Poker Open runs March 19-31. This is part of the High Roller of the Year Series. The player who wins the most HROY points during the 12-event series wins the championship and a $50K bonus. The first 10 events are $10K buy-ins. March 29 is a $25K event and the final event March 30 has a $50K buy-in. PLO is offered March 20 and March 26. A Big Bet Mix runs March 22 and an eight-game mix plays March 24. The deuce-to-seven triple-draw event is March 28. All other events are NLHE.

ORLEANS: The room has changed two of its 7 p.m. tournaments. The $100 Tuesday event switches from PLO to PLO/8. Wednesday, ROSE replaces the eight-game mix. ROSE is HORSE without hold’em. This is a $125 buy-in. Both tournaments have 15K stacks and play 20-minute levels.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at

Pacific Northwest

MUCKLESHOOT CASINO: Construction on the resort’s hotel meant another move for the poker room just after the first of the year. It has 18 tables spreading $3-$6 to $8-$16 limit and $1-$3 to $5-$10 spread-limit hold’em daily, along with $4-$8 Omaha/8 and tournaments Sunday-Thursday. The Pay for Play program rewards players with as much as $10 an hour.

WILDHORSE RESORT: The four-table room features tournaments on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Omaha/8 and NLHE cash games. The first 20 players in any live Omaha game on Mondays or NLHE on Fridays can receive $25. Action moves into the conference rooms April 2-12 for the Spring Round Up, which has 12 events and four mega-satellites that have $40K total added to the prize pools. In addition to the two-day $550 main event (357 entries last year), there are $220 shootout, $115 Big O, $220 Omaha/8, and $165 HORSE tournaments on the schedule.

TRIO SOCIAL CLUB: A new four-table club has opened just across the river from downtown Portland. Trio features $1-$2 NLHE every day starting at 2, with Big O beginning at 3 and $2-$5 NLHE after 6.

SPIRIT MOUNTAIN CASINO: As part of its 25th-year celebration, Oregon’s first casino is giving Coyote Club members one entry into a drawing for a new car for each full hour of cash play through April 23. The drawing is April 26 and is exclusive to poker players. 

— Darrel Plant, the Pacific Northwest Ante Up Ambassador, is a poker blogger at

Meet Cate Athena

Cate Athena plays poker recreationally in Los Angeles. She recently was the last woman standing in the Gardens $100K guarantee and is a Live at the Bike regular.  

How many hours do you put in a week and what games? I don’t play cash every week, but if I average a month, I would say about 20-25 hours a week. I’ll mostly grind $5-$5, $5-$10 mostly. Sometimes $40-$80 limit. Tourneys are a grind, maybe I average three tournaments a month.

How do you juggle a full-time job with your love for the game? Do you consider poker a hobby? Yes, I think so. I don’t have a set time or schedule. I play despite the fact that I have a full-time job outside of poker. I love poker; I don’t love the grind. I like the adrenalin. To be honest, I don’t feel I would be a pro, because I know many poker pros. In comparison and for that reason, I feel like it’s more of a hobby.

Do you keep a poker tracker? Yes. The funny idiotic part of it, as long as I have played poker and after so many poker friends had told me to track my progress, I just recently started doing it.

How do you juggle your love for poker as a single woman? Do you see any interests in men at the table? I think a poker player would be a better match for me than the guys who don’t play. I don’t want to explain to a boyfriend how much I’m stuck, the journey of the grind, the concept of good games and so forth. I definitely think certain guys have a better edge over me, mostly because he’s cute. You don’t want that guy you’re interested in to get pissed by your suckout against him. — Jo-Kim

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza