NorCal Classic at Thunder Valley Oct. 16

October 01, 2017, Garrett Roth, Jay Zeman, Kittie Aleman, Rob Solomon, Philip Chow  

The sixth annual Ante Up NorCal Classic runs Oct. 16-22 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif. The NorCal is specifically designed to be a shorter and more accessible series, though still featuring the highlight of any Ante Up Poker Tour series, the main-event champion appearing on the cover of Ante Up.

“The NorCal is a one-week series and includes some of our most popular events, like the Action 8 and the Change Up,” Thunder Valley Director of Poker Ben Erwin said. “I have offered the main event at $500 and $1K buy-ins. This year, it will be a one-flight, $1,100 event (Oct. 21, $150K guarantee) with a structure that will only be offered in this event during 2017. Some of the antes are different from what is considered standard and we are trying to play to the money in Day 1.

“One conversation that seems pretty consistent is that players would like to get to the money in Day 1 in events at the $1K price point and below. Some of the tweaks that have been made should allow us to do exactly that.”
For more, go to ey.

OAKS CARD CLUB: In Emeryville, the poker room has a great selection of tournaments. The week starts with a Monday bounty event at 6:15 p.m., which costs $150. There’s a $185 event Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m.
The weekend events include a Saturday $130 event at 11 a.m. and the largest event is a Sunday $235 at 1. Players can qualify for Player of the Year Tournament Series points when they cash in any of these events.

Oaks also has some fine jackpots, including a Super Hold’em $100K-max bad-beat jackpot (quad eights). There’s also bad-beat jackpots in stud and Omaha/8.

CALIFORNIA GRAND CASINO: The Pacheco room has some large jackpots, including a Progressive Bad Beat Hold’em Double Jackpot, which starts at $140K and increases daily with a qualifying hand of quad eights. There’s also a $200 room share when this jackpot gets hit.

The Progressive Hold’em Jackpot starts at $70K and increases daily with the same qualifying hand. California Grand also has a $5K bad-beat jackpot, Omaha Jackpot, hold’em high hands and daily progressive royal-flush payouts.

GRATON RESORT & CASINO: In Rohnert Park, this room has become one of the most action-packed rooms in Northern California by offering great tournaments and promotions.

Daily tournaments run at 10 a.m., including Monday, Wednesday and Friday for $60 and Tuesday and Thursday for $35. The Sunday bounty tournament is $140 with $25 bounties. There are a few night events at 6:30, including a $150 Monday bounty and a $100 Thursday event. The largest tournament is the third Saturday of the month at noon for $340. Promotions include hot-seat drawings, high hands, Aces Cracked, early bird specials and Omaha Quad Floppers.

STONES GAMBLING HALL: The Citrus Heights, Calif., hosts its $250K Fall Classic series Sept. 29-Oct. 8. It will have six events with the first five being one-day tournaments.
The series kicks off with two $120 events Sept. 29, a morning no-limit hold’em tourney and a $5K guarantee Omaha/8 event in the evening.

The $450 main event runs Oct. 5-8 with a $150K guarantee. Finally, this series will have special guest commentators, including David Tuchman, Justin Hammer, Jonathan Little and Annette Obrestad.

Southern California

Art Papazyan, a local high-stakes pro, defeated Poker Hall-of-Famer Phil Hellmuth to win the World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker Main Event at the Bicycle Casino in L.A. Papazyan denied Hellmuth his first WPT title to claim his first and $668,692.

Papazyan’s prize includes a $15K seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions.

On the final hand, Hellmuth’s A-K dominated Papazyan’s K-Q as they got it all-in preflop. The Q-10-8 flop gave Papazyan the lead and Hellmuth never improved.

Papazyan outlasted a tough final table that included two-time WPT champions J.C. Tran (third) and Marvin Rettenmaier (fifth).

PECHANGA RESORT & CASINO: The poker room opened an off-track betting facility Aug. 18 and is now called Pechanga Poker & Ponies. Management and elected Pechanga tribal officials thanked the crowd gathered and then cut the red ribbon to the state-of-the-art facility.

The betting facility offers 22 flatscreen TVs and individual seating screens, will be open every day and has a full menu and bar.

“Our goal is giving our guests more of what they want when they come here,” VP of table games Michael May said. “We understand and listen to our guests. Guests can look out for enticing events, promotions and specials tied to national and international racing days.”

OCEAN’S 11: TheWPT DeepStacks returns Oct. 21-30 with five events. Event 1 ($290) has a $75K guarantee and there will be two Day 1s, beginning Oct. 21. Event 2 (Oct. 23) is a $200 mega-satellite to the main event with five seats guaranteed.Event 3 ($290, Oct. 24, 5 p.m.) is a $10K guarantee and Event 4 ($200, Oct. 25, 5 p.m.) is a bounty event with $50 bounties and a $10K guarantee. The $1,100 main event, which has a $200K guarantee, will have three Day 1s and begins Oct. 26 at 11 a.m.

PALA CASINO: Mark Hamilton of Northridge won $4,626 and the championship of the Quantum Reload tournament after a two-way chop Sept. 3.

Hriman Gokani of Claremont was second ($4,276).The five-day tourney drew 138 players for a $22,280 prize pool. Brian McGill of Lehi, Utah, was third ($2,440), followed by David Grimes of Encinitas ($1,905), Jerry Holland of Escondido ($1,495), Alex Pelegri of San Diego ($1,160), Georgiana Trumbull of Westminster ($885), Umberto Tripoli of Vista ($645), Debbie Allen of Long Beach ($550) and Peter Nguyen of San Marcos ($180).


ATLANTIS: Tony Piscitelli defeated 264 players to capture the WPT DeepStacks Reno Main Event. Piscitelli won $56,468, a $3K championship package and brought the trophy back to his hometown in Richmond, Calif. Piscitelli had his best friend, Jacob Copp, playing at the final table.

“Jacob in Seat 2, we’re best friends,” he said. “Unfortunately, I took him out in third, but it was a great experience. This is crazy; we came up here together. I just have fun; I make a lot of jokes; I try to be good-natured and have everyone be in a good mood.”

Jeff Farnes finished second ($39,735) and Copp earned $25,535.

SILVER LEGACY: The next Beat The Boss freeroll, held quarterly, will be Nov. 3. Call the poker room for details.

HARVEYS LAKE TAHOE: The annual World Series of Poker Circuit returns Oct. 26-Nov. 6. Book your rooms in advance using the offer code WSOP17 (Sunday-Thursday $29, Friday $69, Saturday $99).

Most of the events consist of $365 buy-ins, but there are the traditional nightly events that feature smaller buy-ins. The $1,675 main event will be Nov. 3. There will be a $135 women’s event Nov. 5.

Pacific Northwest

The High Mountain Poker Palace (Eugene, Ore.) hosts its quarterly $250 tournament Oct. 21 with$20 going to the dealers and the goes into the prize pool.

High Mountain is one of Oregon’s membership poker clubs ($5 for a one-week pass, $15 for one month, $40 for six months, $60 for a year and $80 for a year for a couple) with nine tables featuring $1-$2 NLHE and $1-$2 pot-limit Omaha games.There’s no rake and dealers are tipped-volunteers rather than paid employees.

WILDHORSE RESORT AND CASINO: The property, which is four miles east of Pendleton, Ore., hosts its Fall Round Up (Nov. 2-12) with $40K total added to the 12 tournaments.
Buy-ins range are $175-$1,100, with a two-day $550 main event the second weekend.There will be$230 Omaha/8 and HORSE events and dozens of cash games will spread as tournament tables break. Call the poker room for details.

UBET CASINO: In Longview, Wash., this 11-table cardroom has three poker tables catering mostly to local players.Tournaments are Monday through Thursday evenings for $43 with an optional $20 add-on.The standard cash game is $2-$8 spread-limit hold’em.

Las Vegas

Football is here; let’s check out some great promos the Las Vegas rooms have to offer while you’re enjoying the action.

SOUTH POINT: The Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games, as well as the Sunday afternoon game, have football squares. Aces full is the qualifying hand.The first three quarters are worth $50 and the final score pays $100. There will be random cash drawings during the Thursday night game and a selected Sunday game.After each score, the winner receives $50 for a field goal, $100 for a touchdown and $200 for a safety. For all evening games, two team banners will be awarded, one to the highest hand during the game, the other in a random seat drawing.

Also, qualifying has begun for the Holiday Hold’em Freeroll. The tournament starts Dec. 11 with 120 hours of live play by Nov. 30 required for entry.First place is $35K and there are cash rewards for playing 120-plus hours.
Jason Sanborn has been named poker room manager, taking over for Joe Digiacomo, who has retired.

SUNCOAST: Football squares are available for the Monday and Thursday night games, as well as the morning, afternoon and evening games on Sunday. Each quarter pays $50.Players earn squares for getting an ace-high flush or better in a cash game or for cashing in a tournament.

SAM’S TOWN: Sunday and Thursday nights offer football squares, each quarter pays $100. Squares are earned for getting a full house or better in a cash game.

GOLDEN NUGGET: For the Monday night games, after each score, a random table will be selected for a splash pot.The prizes are $50 for a field goal, $100 for a touchdown and $200 for a safety.

EXCALIBUR: A random seat will be drawn after every score during the Monday and Thursday night games, as well as the Sunday morning game.The winner will receive $50 for a field goal, $100 for a touchdown and $200 for a safety.

CLUB FORTUNE: The Sunday night game will have football squares. Players receive a square for a full house or better. First-quarter winners get $50, second quarter is worth $75, third quarter is $100 and the final-score winner is worth $200.

During the Monday and Thursday night games, a random player will be awarded $50 during each quarter.

GREEN VALLEY: Players earn football squares for getting aces full or better during the week. Squares are for the Sunday afternoon and evening games, as well as the Monday and Thursday night games. Each quarter score is worth $50.

MANDALAY BAY: The room’s Rolling High Hands of the Shift promo runs three times every day and will coincide with football games Sunday mornings and evenings, as well as Monday and Thursday nights. The highest hands during the promo period each shift wins a cash prize starting at $100; $100 is added every hour the prize is unclaimed.
The promo runs 6-9 p.m. seven days a week, 1-4 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 2-8 a.m.,
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It runs Sundays 2-8 a.m. and 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Hot Seat Drawings will take place after every score during the Sunday morning game as well as the Sunday, Monday and Thursday evening games: $25 for a field goal, $50 for a touchdown and $100 for a safety.

SANTA FE STATION: Pots will be splashed with drawing tickets during Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games as well as a Sunday morning game.After a touchdown, two pots at all tables will be splashed with a drawing ticket. After a field goal, one pot will be splashed with a drawing ticket. For safeties, each table will get five pots splashed with drawing tickets. At the end of the game, four tickets will be drawn worth $50 each and the final ticket drawn pay $200.

BINION’S: For every two hours of live play, players receive a football square for the Sunday, Monday or Thursday night game. The first-quarter score is worth $100, the second quarter wins $200, the third-quarter score pays $300 and the final score is worth $400. If the game is decided in overtime, the final score is used but the player with the score at end of regulation receives a $100 consolation prize.

MGM: For the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games, players receive a Poker Parlay card starting two hours before kickoff. Players get a stamp for making specific hands. If they complete a card with all five hands (two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house) before the game is over, they get $400. If they complete the card before midnight, they win $200.

There’s a second-chance drawing at midnight. Players who have logged five hours of live play during the promo period place their incomplete card with at least one stamp in a drum.The first card picked gets $300; the second card gets $200. MGM is introducing numerous promos to help bring back limit hold’em games.Complete coverage will be in the next issue.

FLAMINGO: High hands of the hour run Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Monday and Thursday 4-8 p.m. Top three hands receive $100, $50 and $50.

WESTGATE: The venue has reopened its poker room, which was closed in 2015. The six-table room is adjacent to the casino’s popular sportsbook and is looking to spread any game, but the most popular game is $1-$2 NLHE with a $50-$200 min-max buy-in.Tournaments are pending.Players can see what live games are running, see the waiting list and view tournament clocks at or the PokerAtlas app.

Promos include high hands ($50 quads, $200 straight flush, $250 royals) with extra payouts for flopping the hand ($200 quads, $300 straight flush, $500 royals).Highest hands of the quarter, starting at $50 and progressing if not hit, is offered during Sunday, Monday and Thursday night NFL games.

Chuck Palermo is the poker room manager and David Fried is the lead supervisor.

VENETIAN: The Deep Stack Extravaganza will run Oct. 30-Nov. 26. More than 50 events, usually two a day, offer more than $2M in guarantees. The $1,600 main event, which has two starting flights, begins Nov. 14. It has a $400K guarantee.

Monday through Friday in October, the room is offering a high-hand giveaway. The highest hand of every half-hour between noon and midnight receives $300.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog

Meet Lonzel Thigpen

Lonzel Thigpen is a well-known figure at the Nugget Casino in Reno. He plays every morning in the poker room and makes his presence known to his peers. Whether he’s having a losing or winning session, his positive attitude toward the game is something that truly stands out. He competes during the day and heads to work at Circus Circus Casino as a bartender at night. He’s been working there for 33 years and takes pride in serving excellent drinks to patrons.

How’s the atmosphere at the Nugget’s poker room? The floor managers and dealers are very accommodating to the requests of its poker players. The staff enjoys laughing and smiling, which makes me feel comfortable. The two key components of any poker room are huge pots and a competitive but friendly crowd.

What makes the Nugget so convenient for you? The auto-shufflers speed up the game. The restroom is just a few steps away. The restaurants surrounding this poker room are fantastic. Though the poker room is not located in the heart of Reno, it’s only four miles from downtown and well worth the drive for anyone looking for an action poker game.

What are your hobbies? I enjoy sports-betting, fishing, camping, spending time with my family and watching poker on TV. Also, my favorite poker player is the one and only Phil Ivey. — Philip Chow