So much going on at Thunder Valley in Northern California

February 27, 2018, Garrett Roth, Kittie Aleman, Philip Chow, Rob Solomon, Jay Zeman  

Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., hosts the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder series March 1-6. This series has five no-limit hold’em events ands is expected to draws a huge crowd from West Coast players.

The first event of the series is a $1,100 buy-in with a guarantee of $100K on March 1. The second event has the largest buy-in of the series ($3,500) and runs March 2-6. The third event is a bounty tournament March 4 with a $1,100 and will reward $500 for every player that gets eliminated. On March 5, there’s a $560 event and March 6 is a $235 event with a $10K guarantee.

The WPT DeepStacks series returns March 29-April 9. The $1,100 main event will run April 5-9 with a $500K guarantee and three starting days (April 5-7) with Day 2 on April 8 and the final table April 9.
In other tourney news, the WSOPC main event at Thunder Valley drew 599 entries for a prize pool near $900K. Hafiz Khan from Stockton, Calif., won the title, $188K and a WSOPC ring.

Khan has been one of the top online players with $2.5M-plus in online earnings and beat Roland Shen from San Francisco heads-up. Shen got $116K for his runner-up finish.

Khan came to the final table third in chips and came back from a 5-1 deficit heads-up to take the title. Khan is no stranger to the live-tournament arena, winning $2.7M-plus in his career.

ELK VALLEY CASINO: The Crescent City, Calif., poker room is hosting three satellites to the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event. The dates are March 2-3, April 6-7 and May 4-5 at this Northern California property. Each satellite costs $250 and winners earn a $10K main-event seat and will get $2K for travel expenses.

STONES GAMBLING HALL: Have you experienced Stones Live yet? Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, cash games are streamed on YouTube and Twitch. Viewing is free and anyone can sign up to play. For more, send a text to 702-465-9450. And see the ad on Page 23 of our current issue for info on the April Spring Classic.

Southern California

COMMERCE CASINO: The L.A. Poker Classic 25th anniversary Celebration kicked off Jan. 9 and ends March 1 at the Commerce Casino. There are 60-plus events, including the WPT LAPC $10K Championship. Former Ante Up Poker Tour champ Chris Hinchcliffe won the $350 opener, which had a $1M guarantee, for $142K. Among the other winners Miami John Cernuto, who took down Event 12 ($350 PLO/8) for $8,850, and Oak Park’s Peter Neff, who won three events (Event 10, $350 PLO for $13K, Event 16, $350 HORSE for $11,515 and Event 27, $1,100 heads-up for $23K).

The series hadn’t concluded at press time, so look for more results in our April issue.

HUSTLER CASINO: Thanh Le came out on top at the Hustler Championship Tournament, which had a $350K guarantee. There were 1,557 Day 1 entries for the $280 buy-in and 65 Day 2 entries for the $2,100 buy-in. The prize pool grew to $495,360 and Le took home $102, 200 for first. Deepinder Singh came in second for $54,600. Rounding out the top 10 were Beau Winn ($32,200), Jared Griener ($26,600), Tarun Navi ($21,050), Robert Brown ($15,500), Brent Hart ($12,250), Denise Good ($9,525) and Moshe Manzur ($7,070).

FLYNT BUYS NORMANDIE: Larry Flynt, who owns the Hustler Casino, bought the struggling Normandie Casino in Gardena and renamed it Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino.

Pacific Northwest

The Poker Pow Wow at Tulalip Casino in Washington ran Jan. 6-21 with nine events: Thomas Byun of Seattle and Nathan Means of Everett, Wash., chopped Event 1 for $5K each; Steven Northrup of Newcastle, Wash., won Event 2 for $6K; Randall Chapman of Lake Stevens, Wash., won Event 3 for $4K; Christopher Wayland of Arlington, Wash., and Magdalano Castenada from Bellingham, Wash., chopped Event 4 for $3K each; Chadwick King of Renton, Wash., and Jason McClary of Renton, Wash., chopped Event 5 for $2K each; Carl Woodward of Renton won Event 6 for $16K after a three-way deal; Kao Saechao of Renton won Event 7 for $3K after a six-way deal; Dennis Shogren of Bothell, Wash., Raymond Spencer of Sammamish, Wash., and Lawrence Hawkinson of Everett, Wash., chopped Event 8 for $5K each and Lyle Munday won the main event for $28K after a five-way deal.    

PORTLAND MEADOWS: The Wild West Poker Tour series was Jan. 26-28. Winners included Virgil Rodriguez from Portland (Event 1, $3K), Aaron Thivyanathan from Renton (Event 3, $2K) and Robert Brewer from Portland (Event 4, $20K). Events 2, 5 and 6 were chopped and Event 7 was a survivor event.

On March 2, Portland Meadows hosts the first Dash Cryptocurrency buy-in tournament. There will be a guaranteed 20 percent overlay. Call for details.

WILDHORSE RESORT: The Pendleton, Ore., property will be adding $40K to 13 tournaments April 5-15. NLHE events vary from $175 to $1,100 with a $125 HORSE event, a $230 Omaha/8 event and a $230 Big O event for those looking for a little variety. Look for more details in the April edition.


ATLANTIS CASINO: The All-In Poker Series runs March 15-25. The $1,100 main event, which sports a $200K guarantee, begins at 11 a.m. on March 23 with Day 1A. March 24 at 11 a.m. is Day 1B and if you preregister and buy in online for the main event by March 14, you’ll receive a free hotel-room night. There will be other guarantees throughout the series, including a $50K for $400 March 16 at 11 a.m.

Also, save the date for the Ante Up Poker Tour series that runs Aug. 16-26.

PEPPERMILL CASINO: Jason Somerville’s Run It Up Reno will be March 26-April 2. The $600 main event starts March 30 at noon. Book rooms starting at $56 by using code RUNITUP.  Visit for more info.   

NUGGET: Don’t forget about the bounty freeroll on April 8 at 2 p.m. Qualify for the tourney Jan. 1-March 25. The top 40 players in hours of live play will earn an entry.

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

Las Vegas

WYNN: Stephen Buell of Las Vegas topped a field of 743 players to take home $65K in the Wynn Signature Weekend event Jan. 28.  Las Vegas’ Wendy Freedman claimed $53K for second and England’s Barry Isaacson earned $32K for third. 

The buy-in was $600 and the prize pool was $389K, easily surpassing the $250K guarantee. All tournaments in this brief series used the big-blind ante format, where the big blind posts an ante each hand, a format that is rapidly gaining popularity.

VENETIAN: The March Extravaganza runs March 12-18, offering $400K-plus in guarantees. The main event is a $600 SuperStack event with three starting flights beginning March 15. Players start with 20K chips and 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K. A one-day $400 PLO event with a $12K guarantee is March 15. Players start with 12K and play 30-minute levels.

The Venetian’s second Deep Stack Extravaganza of the year will run March 26-April 15. The event with the biggest guarantee, $250K, is $250 with five starting flights beginning April 10. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels on Day 1, 40-minute levels on Day 2. The final 10 percent of each flight will be in the money, with the final 5 percent advancing to Day 2.

The first of two starting flights for a $1,100 DoubleStack tournament with a $200K guarantee is March 28. Players start with 30K chips and play 40-minute levels. A $600 DoubleStack event has three starting flights beginning April 5. Again, players start with a 30K stack and play 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K.

Two of the tournaments are using the big-blind ante format. The first one is March 27, a one-day, $400 SuperStack with a $35K guarantee. Players start with 18K chips and play 30-minute levels. The same tournament runs April 4.

A $250 Omaha/8 tournament with a $7K guarantee runs April 1. A $250 PLO tourney with a $7K guarantee runs April 6. A $400 seniors event with a $25K guarantee runs April 5.

More than $1.2M in prize money is guaranteed over the course of the series.

On the cash-game side, the room has a high-hand and splash-pot promo running March 1-May 13. Between noon and midnight, $400 will be awarded every half-hour to the highest hand of that period. Between 12:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., a table will be selected randomly every half-hour for a $100 splash pot.

WESTGATE: Vegas’ newest poker room will host the Heartland Poker Tour (March 29-April 9). The $1,650 main event offers the first of its three starting flights on April 5. Players get 30K chips and play 40-minute levels. The final table on Day 3 will be live-streamed on Twitch on April 9.

A $350 Monster Stack event with three starting flights kicks off things March 29. Players get 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. A $1,100 two-day event starts April 1 as players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels. There are also a few $200 events and plenty of satellites.  

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The World Series of Poker Circuit returns March 22-April 2. The $1,675 main event offers a $500K guarantee and starts March 30. A $365 event with a $150K guarantee starts March 23.  
A $250 seniors event runs March 29. A $365 PLO event is March 26. A $2,200 high roller is April 1.

STRATOSPHERE: The room at the north end of the Strip has revised its tournament schedule. The regular tournament is $75 for a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. This runs every weeknight except Wednesday at 7, and Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m. The 7 p.m. tournaments on Friday and Saturday feature a $1K guarantee.

Wednesdays at 7 p.m., the room offers at $100 bounty event, same details but there’s a $25 bounty. For all tournaments, players can get an extra 1K chips for registering at least 15 minutes before start time.
Frequently, the room will replace one of the afternoon tournaments on the weekend with a $125 Stratstack tournament, which starts players with 20K chips and features 30-minute levels. All tournaments serve free pizza to the players at the first break.

TREASURE ISLAND: The new regular tournament is a $50 rebuy tournament and is offered three times a day, at 12:30, 6 and 10 p.m. The starting stack is 5K. For the first four 15-minute levels, rebuys for 5K are available for $20, whenever a player is at or below 5K. There’s an optional $20 add-on at the end of Level 4 for 15K.  

On the first and third Thursdays of the month, the 6 and 10 p.m. tournaments are replaced by the new Magnum T.I. event.  It starts at 7 p.m. and has a $125 buy-in. Players start with 30K chips and play 20-minute levels.

There is an optional $15 add-on for $15K chips after the 10th level, when registration closes. The poker room is adding $500 to the prize pool.

Players can earn a free entry into the Magnum T.I. tournament by finishing in the top three of the weekly leaderboard, which tracks the players with the most cashes in the regular tournaments. Also, players can get a free entry by playing 20 hours of live poker in the room during a week.

The room is continuing its Get Paid To Play program. Players will be paid $40 for 10 hours of live play in a week, up to $599 for 60 hours of live play.
The main cash game is $1-$3 NLHE with a $100-$500 min-max buy-in.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at .

Meet Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall enjoys life these days as a school teacher, poker player and a family man.

Do you consider yourself as a poker pro? I’m not a pro as I teach high school, but I’m not recreational, either. I guess I’d be somewhere in between. It’s hard to keep up with the wizards from Europe who live and breathe poker. I have no nickname, but the people at the poker club call me Teacher because of my job. I have a couple of wonderful children and honestly I’d rather spend time with them than play poker. I still play some big live tournaments; I played the World Series of Poker Main Event for the 11th time last year and I play a lot of live cash games in my area.

Any memorable experiences or a life-changing one? Probably winning the Full Tilt Online Poker Series back when it mattered. It was a $160K score, which paid off my mortgage. I chopped the Stars Warmup for $110K, as well. Another really memorable tourney was the first live tourney I qualified for online, European Poker Tour Warsaw in Season 3. It was a fun trip and the first time I’d ever gone to Europe.

Hobbies and favorite player? I used to play a lot of tennis but I wrecked my arm. I play and coach badminton at the high school. My favorite player is Cliff Josephy.
 — Philip Chow