Thunder Valley hosts Ante Up Worlds on July 21-Aug. 7

June 20, 2016, Garrett Roth, Kittie Aleman, Rob Solomon, Jay Zeman  

When the sound of cheers and bracelet ceremonies fizzle out this summer, head over to Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., to parlay your winnings at Ante Up World Championship from July 21-Aug. 7. There will be 20-plus unique events with more than $1M in guarantees.

The AUPT series kicks off with a $100K Catapult event July 21-24 and will have a $155 buy-in and four starting flights. Some other highlights of the series include a $250K guarantee July 28-31 and a $100K guarantee Aug. 1-3.

Another popular event is the Heads-Up Championship on Aug. 4, which will be a two-day event with the bracket draw that morning. The series will have events ranging from Omaha/8 (July 27), HORSE (Aug. 1) and Open Face Chinese (Aug. 7). The $1,650 main event will have two starting flights Aug. 5-6 and will have a $500K guarantee. Numerous satellites will run leading up to the day of the event.

The final table will be Aug. 7 where the winner will be featured on the cover of Ante Up.

Thunder Valley also offers players a discounted rate on hotel rooms by using the code 160721ANTE during the event.

OAKS CARD CLUB: The Emeryville property hosts a variety of monthly tournaments in the East Bay with a Player of the Year point system as some extra incentive. On Monday, there’s a $150 buy-in that starts at 6:15 p.m. and on Wednesday the event is $185 with the same starting time. The Saturday events start at 11 a.m. and are $130. The largest event offered is the $235 buy-in on Sundays at 1 p.m.

PARKWEST CASINO SONOMA: There are some fine promotions at this Petaluma poker room, including a daily Super Bad Beat Jackpot, Mini Bad Beat Jackpot and an Omaha Jackpot.

There’s also a Royal Flush Bonus (daily), Aces Cracked (daily) and Splash Pots (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). Parkwest offers bargain specials for Omaha (10-10:30 a.m.) and hold’em (8-8:30 a.m.) where players receive an extra $20 for their $100 buy-in.

Players who arrive early enough will receive free breakfast off the players’ menu from 8:30-10 a.m. every day.

Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND MEADOWS: The new property followed up its May 16 soft opening of its 22-table poker room with a series of 15 tournaments from May 21-28.Buy-ins ranged from $30 for main-event satellites to $300 plus a $100 add-on for the main event. Most of the non-satellite events had guarantees, $100K for the main event, and included a PLO event, a Big O/8 event and a seniors event.

Portland Meadows is operated as a poker club, which means no fees for tournaments, no rake for cash games and no salaries for dealers. A $10 membership fee gets you all of the play you want for one day.

WILDHORSE RESORT CASINO: This property, which is four miles east of Pendleton, Ore., hosts its Summer Round-Up on July 20-24. Call for details.

Southern California

PALA CASINO: Donnie Sitic from Los Angeles struggled through almost 11 hours of competition to take down RiverCard’s Quest for the Cup 2016 Super Mega event at Pala Casino, near San Diego.

This $220 event featured 11 Day 1 flights and ran May 14-29, drawing 427 entrants for an $81K prize pool. Each player started with 15K chips as the top 10 percent from each flight returned May 29 for Day 2 and a run for the prize, which included a seat to the Las Vegas main event this month.

After the final table was set at 11 p.m. and by 12:45 a.m. play was three-handed: Ranjit Randhawa of San Diego, David Weyrick of Mission Viejo and Sitic exchanged the lead changing several times for another 45 minutes. At 1:30 a.m., they chopped for $14,026 each and Sitic was given the title.

After the event, Sitic said, “The structure and price were worth the drive from Los Angeles.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Erwin Dinsay of Rancho Cucamonga ($4,872), Cesar Osnaya of Colton ($4,192), John Hernandez of Descanso ($3,663), Nick Mowl of England ($3,129), Ori Kossonogi of San Diego ($2,596), Joshua Van Duyn of Napa ($2,062) and Rip Fitzer of El Cajon ($1,529).

HOLLYWOOD PARK CASINO: Tournament director Corey Silver has put together a wide variety of daily events, all for $60, all with guarantees and one $60 rebuy. Monday through Thursday at noon is a $3,500 guarantee and Monday’s tournament adds a $20 bounty. Friday and Sunday at noon is a $10K guarantee while Saturday at noon is a $6K guarantee.

Friday at 7 p.m. is a $12K guarantee; Saturday through Thursday at 7 p.m. features $2,500 guarantees and Monday’s tournament adds a $20 bounty.

But as great as the daily events are, there are some great unique tourneys, too. The Sunday Special runs the first Sunday of the month at noon for $230 and gives players 30K chips and 30-minute levels to start, decreasing to 20 minutes after Level 4.

The Big O tournament is Saturdays at 3 p.m. for $60 and one $60 rebuy. Players start with 10K chips but the rebuy earns you 15K chips. The re-entry and rebuy period ends at Level 8.

As for promotions, earn Player of the Month points for making the final table in any daily event and the top 10 players at the end of the month get paid. First place gets $3K. Also, every Sunday-Wednesday there are 10 drawings (11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 3, 4, 5, 8, 9,10 and midnight for $300 each. Players receive a drawing ticket for every hour of play for a chance to win. For more promotions and tournament details, go to playhpc.com.

Reno

ELDORADO RESORT CASINO: Join poker room manager Margie Heintz and her staff at 6 p.m. on the first Friday of the month for the Beat the Boss Bounty Freeroll. The event has $2K added and $500 in bounties. If you beat the boss, you win a bounty. Heintz was the first woman in history to deal the World Series of Poker and was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2011. For more information, call the 775-786-5700.

PEPPERMILL CASINO: Blake Vincent was the dominant chipleader at the final table of the main event of the Run It Up Reno charity series and he followed through with the victory. He pocketed $46,410 after beating nearly 400 players.

One of the interesting subplots to this event came courtesy of its host, pro player Jason Somerville. He very nearly won his own event, bowing out in fourth place, good for $13,300.

GRAND SIERRA RESORT: The poker room is offering $100 Aces Cracked on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when there’s at least $100 in the pot. There’s also the progressive high-hand jackpot when you make quads or any straight flush in hold’em, stud and Omaha games. Call the poker room for payout information. And don’t forget the free players buffet daily at 2 and 10 p.m.

ATLANTIS CASINO RESORT SPA: The $40 deepstack runs daily at 11 a.m. Players get 6K chips, but if you play one hour of live poker at least 24 hours before the start of the tournament, you’ll receive 2K more chips. Also, earn $2 an hour in comps and ask about the Lucky 13 promotion. Don’t forget the WPT DeepStacks visits Aug. 18-28.

HARVEYS LAKE TAHOE: The Morning Turbo tournament runs every day at 10 a.m. Sign-up begins at 9:30 and management recommends that’s when you should register as the event is scheduled for just a couple of tables Monday-Friday and about four tables on Saturday. The $40 buy-in gets you 1,500 in chips and 15-minute blinds.

Las Vegas

The MGM Grand hosts the fifth annual Celebrity Poker Tournament with actor-comedian Brad Garrett.The tournament benefits the Maximum Hope Foundation, a non-profit that provides urgent financial assistance to families with a critically ill child.

The organization was founded nearly 16 years ago by Garrett and makes rent payments, covers utility bills, offers gift cards for groceries or gas or assists with other urgent financial needs for those families with a child battling a life-limiting illness.

This year, the tournament will be during the World Series of Poker, just a week or so before the main event, at noon on July 2. The buy-in is $250 with $200 add-ons.The grand prize is $10K, which is conveniently the price of a WSOP main-event seat.Brunch is being donated by Wolfgang Puck.

POST WSOP: One of the many appealing things about poker in Las Vegas is the tournament action is great all year around.Of course, nothing compares to WSOP-time with all the great series around town, but when all those series wrap up, there are still plenty of tournaments.

The biggest buy-in events are not available, but there are a plenty of low-to-moderately priced tournaments all over town.

• The Venetian has two tournaments daily, at noon and 7 p.m., offering guarantees. All regular tournaments have 30-minute levels. The biggest buy-in is the $300 Saturday afternoon bounty tournament that offers a $12K guarantee.Players start with 12K chips and players get a $100 bounty for each player knocked out.
Fridays and Sundays at noon the tournament is a $200 bounty tournament with $50 bounties and a $9K guarantee.Again, players start with a 12K stack.

The rest of the week, the noon tournament is $150, no bounties, same starting stack and the $9K guarantee.
Rebuy tournaments are Wednesday and Friday evenings.Wednesday, the buy-in is $125 for a 10K stack and players can take advantage of unlimited rebuys for the first four levels.The rebuys are $100 for another 10K stack and players can rebuy whenever their stack is at or below 10K.The Friday offering is $200 for a 12K stack.Here, it’s a single $200 rebuy for another 12K whenever the stack is at 12K or less through the first four levels.

Monday and Sunday evenings offer a $125 buy-in with a 10K starting stack and a $4,500 guarantee.The rest of the evenings feature bounty events.

Tuesday and Saturday have $50 bounties for the $200 buy-ins, 12K starting stack.Thursday night is $125, $25 bounties and a $7K guarantee.

• The Wynn, with its new 8,600-square-feet 28-table poker room that opened in late May, offers a $25K guarantee Saturdays at noon, the biggest guarantee for a regular tournament in town. The buy-in is $225 for 10K chips.There are unlimited $200 rebuys for 10K chips any time a player’s stack is at or below 5K through the first four levels. There’s also an optional 5K add-on for $100.The levels last 40 minutes.

Fridays and Sundays are $200 events with $10K guarantees, 30-minute levels and a 10K starting stack.The rest of the week the offering is a $140 buy-in, 10K chips and 30-minute levels.

On the first Wednesday of the month, the regular tournament is replaced by a $300 senior event that features a $12,500 guarantee.The starting stack is 12,500 and there’s an optional $100 add-on for 5K chips at the end of the registration period, the fourth level. The levels are 30 minutes.

Thursdays at 5 p.m. is a $120 PLO tournament.Players start with 10K chips and have unlimited $100 rebuys available through the first four levels for 10K chips. There’s also a $50 add-on for 5K chips.

• The Aria runs two popular tournaments a day.Weeknights at 7 and Sunday through Thursday at 1 p.m. the $125 tournaments offer 30-minute levels and a 10K stack.Fridays and Saturdays, the daytime tournament starts at 11 a.m. and is $240 for a 20K stack.It’s worth noting the $240 tournament has proved to be popular since being introduced at the beginning of the year. It’s possible the room will decide to offer it on additional days in the near future.

• The Orleans is just a couple of miles off the Strip and is popular with locals and tourists.It offers a nice variety of tournaments twice a day at noon and 7 p.m.

The centerpiece is the Friday night $125 tournament, still the most popular regular event in town.It routinely draws 200-plus players, who start with 12,500 chips and play 30-minute levels.

The Orleans is a great spot for those who like disciplines other than hold’em.A $100 HORSE tournament runs Saturday nights offering a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. Tuesday nights feature $100 PLO, also a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. Thursday nights, it’s $75 Omaha/8 with the same starting stack and level times.

The $75 Omaha/8 tournament also runs in the afternoon on Mondays and Saturdays. Wednesday afternoons is an O/8-stud/8 tournament for $75. On Monday evenings and Friday afternoons, a $100 Super Stack Turbo tournament starts players with a 20K stack and 15-minute levels.

The schedule is filled out with $100 and $75 NLHE tournaments.

• The downtown rooms offer low buy-in tournaments during the week, while taking turns offering bigger events on the weekend.Golden Nugget has a $125 tournament Sundays at 11 a.m. with a $5K guarantee.The levels are 20 minutes and players start with 15K chips.

Binion’s Saturday deepstack at 1 p.m. has a $10K guarantee and starts players with 20K chips. Levels are 30 minutes.
As you can see, there are always great mid-priced tournament options in Vegas.

SOUTH POINT: The poker room is hosting a $10K Player Appreciation tournament Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. The top 40 hour-earners from July 1-31 qualify. First place pays $4K, second pays $3K, third is $2K and fourth is $1K. Every qualifier gets $50. See the ad on Page 9 in our July issue for more details.

CLOSURE: The Eastside Cannery, a small locals casino, closed its four-table poker room in April.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.

Meet Kristi Smith

Kristi Smith has been in poker as a dealer, dual-rate and supervisor in Las Vegas since 2008.

How did you get into poker? I got into poker in 2005. I was living in Alaska and the winters are long and boring. My ex-husband came home from work and said we would be going to play a Texas Hold’em tournament at a co-worker’s house. We went and played and I ended up getting second and I loved the game. I immediately began playing the free poker offered around town as there are no casinos in Alaska. I learned to deal from a group that runs charity tournaments. I would deal those whenever they came up. In 2008, I moved to Las Vegas. I got my first poker-dealing job from Jake Revelle at Imperial Palace. I worked there for a couple of years then moved to Mirage in 2010. Now I’m a dual-rate. Most days I deal and some days I work as a floor supervisor.

Why play at Mirage? Mirage has well-rounded promotions and it rewards MLife members with $2 an hour in food comps. In addition to $1-$2 and $2-$5 NLHE, Mirage has the most consistent $3-$6 limit game on the strip. Mirage offers four tournaments daily and will create a personalized tournament for your group for special events, such as a bachelor or birthday party.

What do you do when you’re not dealing poker? I’m usually playing poker. I enjoy playing $1-$2 NLHE and daily tournaments. I also love to sing karaoke and simply enjoy all that Las Vegas has to offer. — Rob Solomon

Mitchell, Burkhead to enter Women’s Hall

The Women in Poker Hall of Fame will induct Victoria Coren Mitchell and Debbie Burkhead on July 6 at 11 a.m. at Gold Coast Casino Ballroom in Las Vegas.

Mitchell began playing poker as a teenager and became the first woman to win on the European Poker Tour. She has nearly $2.5M in tournament earnings and is one of the best-known players in the UK. She’s a journalist, television personality and film director and she’s also the first European to be inducted into the hall.

Burkhead serves as an advertising sales rep for Ante Up, but her career as a player and writer began in the 1990s. She wrote a bimonthly column called Debbie Does Poker that ran for more than 10 years in Poker Player Newspaper and has proved to be a well-rounded tournament player with close to $200K in cashes. In 2002, she took the Best All Around title at the Peppermill, has finished in the money in four WSOP events and won the LIPS National Championship in 2007.
For tickets or more info, visit WIPHOF.com.