Michael Loncar wins Ante Up Poker Tour Main Event at Thunder Valley

November 28, 2016, Scott Long  

If Howie Mandel had been the tournament director, he would have owed The Banker overtime pay.

The final table of the Ante Up NorCal Classic Main Event turned into the poker equivalent of “Deal Or Not Deal,” with the clock stopping three times before the final five players locked up their briefcases and played out the rest of the tournament at Thunder Valley Casino Resort for a seat in the Ante Up World Championship and the cover of Ante Up Magazine.

And it was Michael Loncar who locked all of it up, including the biggest share of the prize pool - $45,895.

“I feel like I’m in a dream - a really good dream. I’m kind of at a loss for words,” said Loncar, who won this same event two years ago. “The structures were really good both times. In both, from three tables down to five- or six-6 handed, I pretty much never had my stack at risk. I just grinded and the structure is really good. The stars definitely aligned in this one.”

Chop discussions began seven-handed, with James Starr, a heavy chipleader, wanting the lion’s share of the money. An ICM discussion quickly broke down, and cards got back in the air. After Starr took out James Mitchell, who was second in chips, the clock stopped again to see if a deal could be worked out giving Starr first-place money for his massive chip stack. While all remaining players seemed agreeable to that, Loncar insisted on $35,000, slightly higher than the ICM model allowed, and the group couldn’t come to an agreement again.

“I was talking with my friends about was second place was and the variance,” Loncar said. “I thought ($35,000) was a fair price. I was second in chips and luckily it didn’t go through. It was just a perfect situation.”
As play continued, Loncar shoved when he turned a set a 7s and got Starr to call with A-5 of spades with two spades on the board. The river held for Loncar, who doubled through the chipleader. Ironically, a short time later, it was Loncar with the A-5, and he got Starr to pay him off on a board with two 5s to now become the dominant chipleader.

At five-handed, deliberations on the final deal began. Loncar initially asked for an extra $1,000 from the other four players to agree to a straight ICM deal, but quickly backed off on that as it began to look that it would scuttle the deal. Ying Vang thought long and hard, and finally decided to vote for the deal with everyone else. With their profits locked up, the five finished play, with - not surprisingly - Loncar and Starr ending up heads-up.

Loncar shoved on a 8-6-3 flop with 8-7, and Starr called with 6-5 and got no help, giving Loncar the title.

The final table had some other great stories. Apollo Wallace’s wife, Cherie, finished fifth in the Ante Up World Championship, also held at Thunder Valley, and he took fourth in this event. Rafael Gonzalez was gunning for back-to-back $500 buy-in victories after taking a title at Turlock Card Room a week ago, but was eliminated eighth.

And Loncar was a topic of conversation on Day 1 of the Main Event when he played in a Full Tilt Poker bathrobe.

“I do that once a year, but I’ve never wore it in a tournament - only cash games. People love it and get a kick out of it,” he said. “I had lots of friends ask, ‘when are you going to wear the robe again?’ so I said, ‘I have to wear it for the tournament.’ It gave me a little mojo.”

The Ante Up Poker Tour Player of the Race also provided an exciting subplot to the final day of the Main Event. Dalton Still held a slim lead over friend Matt Boddorf for the title, and both remained in the field for Day 2 with no one else in the field able to catch them. Still bowed out first, adding to his lead. Boddorf needed to finish 26th or higher - and fade any success Still had the last two events - but was eliminated in 44th place. Both entered Event #5, and while Still built up an early chip lead and eventually cashed, Boddorf was shown the rail and put his slim chances into Event #6. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Boddorf was eliminated shy of the money, assuring Still the title. Read more about that in next month’s Ante Up.

The Ante Up NorCal Classic was the first Ante Up Poker Tour event - and the first major tournament series for Thunder Valley - when it debuted in 2012, and it has grown ever since. This year’s Main Event was the largest two-day Main Event in the history of the Lincoln, Calif., resort, and the other five events drew well, filling Thunder Valley’s AAA Four Diamond hotel over the Thanksgiving weekend and its cash tables in the poker room as well.

“It feels great to set a record with 630 entries. The record field is a testament to our growth and partnership with Ante Up Magazine,” said Ben Erwin, director of poker operations for Thunder Valley. “This was the event that started it all. We drew from all over. This event is a destination for Northern California, so it was great to see the players travel in for it.”

The Ante Up Poker Tour returns to Thunder Valley in July for the Ante Up World Championship, the fourth time the resort has hosted that event, and again in October for the Ante Up NorCal Classic.

ANTE UP POKER TOUR - Ante Up NorCal Classic
Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, Calif.

Buy-in: $555
Entries: 630
Prize Pool: $313,350
1 Michael Loncar Roseville, CA $45,895
2 James Starr Roseville, CA $31,288
3 Apollo Wallace San Francisco, CA $24,303
4 Ying Vang Sacramento, CA $33,931
5 David Valdez Vacaville, CA $26,630
6 Frankie Keeth Roseville, CA $11,876
7 James Mitchell Sacramento, CA $9,902
8 Rafael Gonzalez Modesto, CA $7,896
9 Joseph Mussat San Jose, CA $5,922
10 Deidson Camargos Concord, CA $4,356
11 Sean Drake Citrus Heights, CA $4,356
12 Andrew Duffy Grass Valley, CA $4,356
13 Ky Ngheim San Jose, CA $3,541
14 Thomas Haury San Francisco, CA $3,541
15 Brian Halloran Santa Rosa, CA $3,541
16 Anthony Gaglione Newark, CA $3,039
17 Jonathan Harris Riverbank, CA $3,039
18 Jonathan Yee San Francisco, CA $3,039
19 Jim Gu Pleasant Hill, CA $2,663
20 Yotam Shmuelov San Francisco, CA $2,663
21 Joe Nguyen Sunnyvale, CA $2,663
22 Dalvinder Bains Yuba City, CA $2,381
23 Timothy Melton Sacramento, CA $2,381
24 Kim Huynh Sacramento, CA $2,381
25 Harun Begic Rocklin, CA $2,099
26 Farhad Ghafari San Jose, CA $2,099
27 Dorathea Timmons Manteca, CA $2,099
28 Francisco Loera Oakland, CA $1,817
29 Soumitra Nagar San Jose, CA $1,817
30 Exequiel Fernando Elk Grove, CA $1,817
31 Sou Tong Saeturn Sacramento, CA $1,817
32 Michael Vang Sacramento, CA $1,817
33 Daniel Kozakevich San Jose, CA $1,817
34 Stephen Kujubu Sacramento, CA $1,817
35 Steven Tada n/a $1,817
36 Rickey Evans Vacaville, CA $1,817
37 Paul McGurk San Francisco, CA $1,567
38 Luke Williams Folsom, CA $1,567
39 Michael Peters Marysville, CA $1,567
40 Timothy Trinh Elk Grove, CA $1,567
41 Arthur Barcan Tracy, CA $1,567
42 Igor Fishborn San Francisco, CA $1,567
43 Thomas Riggs Modesto, CA $1,567
44 Matthew Boddorf n/a $1,567
45 Carl Sciandri Napa, CA $1,567
46 Kao Saevang Sacramento, CA $1,347
47 Kathy Stahl Manteca, CA $1,347
48 Jeffrey Roy Modesto, CA $1,347
49 James Battaglia Chicago, IL $1,347
50 Bryan Stillwell Newcastle, CA $1,347
51 Tracy Oto Sacramento, CA $1,347
52 Michael Farinacci San Jose, CA $1,347
53 Justin Moore Waterford, CA $1,347
54 Gregory White Livermore, CA $1,347
55 Monte Gilley Live Oak, CA $1,128
56 Dalton Still Rocklin, CA $1,128
57 Richard Lambert Roseville, CA $1,128
58 Herbert Whitaker Yuba City, CA $1,128
59 Jonathan Dissinger Sacramento, CA $1,128
60 Ravi Shanmugam San Jose, CA $1,128
61 Jose Esparza Lodi, CA $1,128
62 Narunat Pansantorn American Canyon, CA $1,128
63 Brandon Henderson Grand Prairie, TX $1,128
64 Gregory Pincombe Half Moon Bay, CA $971
65 Gary Pisarek Auburn, CA $971
66 Bruce Fling Citrus Heights, CA $971
67 Rudolph Sisson Sacramento, CA $971
68 Steven Geralis Stockton, CA $971
69 Thomas Drotleff Citrus Heights, CA $971
70 Paul Brown Auburn, CA $971
71 David Madrona Grass Valley, CA $971
72 Nicky Niknam Belmont, CA $971

Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, CA
Event #1 - No-Limit Hold'em
Buy-in: $155
Entries: 223
Prize pool: $28,554
Place Name City Payout
1 Bill Watchman Sparks, NV $5,460
2 Dalvinder Bains Yuba City, CA $4,948
3 Babe Prescott Stockton, CA $4,052
4 Carrie Diggs Sacramento, CA $2,244
5 Hoa Nguyen Roseville, CA $1,684
6 Joseph Arent Roseville, CA $1,347
7 Matthew Halfon Concord, CA $1,119
8 Darrell Cain Fair Oaks, CA $896
9 S.T. Tran Sacramento, CA $671
10 Robert Rosell Vacaville, CA $491
11 Dalton Still Rocklin, CA $491
12 Ta Wey Hackensack, NJ $491
13 David Valdez Vacaville, CA $402
14 Timothy Melton Sacramento, CA $402
15 Doyle Johnson Vacaville, CA $402
16 Charisse Case Sacramento, CA $343
17 Howard Andrew Walnut Creek, CA $343
18 Joseph Esparza Lathrop, CA $343
19 Bobby Corpos Sacramento, CA $300
20 Ben Buttonow Peoria, IL $300
21 Jeff Sardella Auburn, CA $300
22 n/a $268
23 Sean Drake Citrus Heights, CA $268
24 Hong Moon Rancho Cordova, CA $268
25 Daniel McGee Sacramento, CA $237
26 Mickey Friend Fair Oaks, CA $237
27 Ky Nghiem San Jose, CA $237

Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, CA
Event #2 - Limit Omaha/8
Buy-in: $155
Entries: 50
Prize pool: $10,000
Place Name City Payouts
1 Brendan Thomson Loomis, CA $3,075
2 Kathy Stahl Manteca, CA $2,125
3 Ross Honhart Nevada, City, CA $1,400
4 Nelson Wong Sacramento, CA $1,100
5 Michael Guida Sunol, CA $800
6 Tom Matthews Alamo, CA $600
7 Maria Madraswala SF, CA $500
8 David Diiorio Placerville, CA $400

Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, CA
Event #3 - No-Limit Hold'em
Buy-in: $125
Entries: 233
Prize pool: $23,298
Place Name Payouts
1 Matthew Boddorf $3,248
2 Andrew Duffy $2,856
3 Sou Tong Saeteurn $2,554
4 Joseph Costanzo $2,323
5 Jesse Garcia $2,276
6 Mohammed Dirsiye $2,261
7 Antoine Klink $1,499
8 Ronald Quinonez $732
9 Georgene Farmer $548
10 Gipseppe Signarella $401
11 Thomas Marshall $401
12 Victor Campagna $401
13 Robert Lew $329
14 James Colson $329
15 Eric Keller $329
16 Paul Nelson $280
17 Sheena Sabin $280
18 Vanna Lom $280
19 Giuseppe Petrillo $245
20 Elissa Norman $245
21 Todd Graham $245
22 Earl Baker $219
23 Robert Brown $219
24 Chunhai Teng $219
25 Ryan Ordonez $193
26 Kyle Marlin $193
27 Joshua Pedretti $193

Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, CA
Event #5 - No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed
Entries: 95
Prize pool: $20,425
Place Name Payouts
1 Edmund Castles Stockton, CA $5,200
2 Justin Haller Riverbank, CA $4,433
3 Steven Tada Santa Clara, CA $2,545
4 Dalton Still Rocklin, CA $1,818
5 Leng Vang Elk Grove, CA $1,454
6 Exequiel Fernando Elk Grove, CA $1,091
7 Patrick Day Jr. Grass Valley, CA $909
8 Hedayat Emadi San Jose, CA $727
9 Antione Klink San Jose, CA $562
10 Louis Bassi Jamestown, CA $562
11 Gary Pisarek Auburn, CA $562
12 Jaime Haletky Pacific Grove, CA $562

Thunder Valley Casino Resort - Lincoln, CA
Event #6 - No-Limit Hold'em Bounty
Entries: 86
Prize pool: $7,052
Place Name Payouts
1 Bienvinedo Rosal Elk Grove, CA $1,295
2 Michelle Murillo Roseville, CA $1,221
3 John Rogers Sacramento, CA $1,080
4 Daniel Kozakevich San Jose, CA $1,074
5 Robert Randolph Sacramento, CA $960
6 James Won Concord, CA $552
7 Timothy Melton Sacramento, CA $317
8 Daniel Guevara Fairfield, CA $247
9 Richard Spears Auburn, CA $176
10 Christopher Smith Marysville, CA $155