Ante Up World Championship


July 20-August 6, 2017
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Lincoln, California

About the Property

Thunder Valley Casino Resort, owned by the United Auburn Indian Community, is a AAA Four-Diamond resort just north of Sacramento, California's capital city. The resort features a 300-room luxury hotel, full casino, spa, pool, bar and entertainment area, golf course and nine restaurants, including High Steaks Steakhouse.



  • Deluxe rooms measure 535 square feet with lavishly oversized marble bathrooms with European spa showers, separate soaking tub, makeup mirror, hair dryer, plush terrycloth robes, pillowtop mattress, 320-thread count linens, T1 wireless Internet, safe, iron/ironing board, coffee maker, refrigerator, large writing desk, three telephones, Sony stereo alarm clock with MP3 connection and 40-inch LCD flat-screen TV. One- and two-bedroom suites also available.


  • Casino: Slots, table games, bingo and a 24-table poker room (33 tables during tournament events). Gambling age is 21.
  • Golf: Whitney Oaks Golf Club is an 18-hole course 15 minutes from Thunder Valley
  • Dining: Feast Buffet, Thunder Cafe, Red Lantern (Asian), High Steaks Steakhouse and a food court
  • Other: Spa, pool, health club and entertainment venue on site.

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is 36 miles from Thunder Valley. Also consider airports in nearby Reno, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

Resort Overview

By Scott Long
I’ll never forget my first meeting with Ben Erwin.

I was on one of my many sales trips, and Erwin politely agreed to meet me for lunch at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, where he was director of poker operations, as I zig-zagged across Northern California.

Ben was was clear on the phone that he didn't have a budget for Ante Up, but something clicked over chicken pasta and Arnold Palmers and, not too much later, Thunder Valley was hosting the inaugural Ante Up Poker Tour event.

"It all started in 2012. We had really good success on our own as we starting building a name for ourselves in the region," Erwin said. "And then we partnered with Ante Up for the first Ante Up NorCal Classic and we got a great response. That was our first $1K event and it was just an amazing turnout. That really opened the door to a lot of things."

A lot of things indeed. Heartland Poker Tour stops. A World Poker Tour stop. An expanded poker room. And, of course, more Ante Up Poker Tour events.

"People are getting on planes now and flying to Sacramento to play poker," Erwin said.

I’m one of them. I’ve had great success playing at Thunder Valley, and I attribute it to the AAA Four-Diamond experience players enjoy when staying at Thunder Valley.

I start my day in the spa, where I enjoy an eucalyptus steam and computer-controlled rainforest shower, followed by hot tea and healthy snacks in the meditation lounge - all included in my room rate. It gets me relaxed and focused for the day’s tournaments.

After I cash, I never have to leave the resort to get a great meal with 14 bars and restaurants on property. If I’m in a hurry, a food court with several options is a quick walk from the poker room, as is a lavish buffet. If I’m not, you’ll find me at Red Lantern, deciding between pages and pages of delicious Asian dishes on the menu. And if I want to treat myself, I’m going to enjoy a tender steak and a Northern California red wine at High Steaks. (An added bonus for Main Event players is the ability to use their food comp not only for the buffet but also for a limited menu at High Steaks, designed to get them in and out during the dinner break.)

Then it’s on to the cash games. The resort offers four levels of no-limit - $1-$2 and $2-$5 daily and $5-$5 and $5-$10 on weekends. A $3-$6 limit game is always going, and $4-$8 limit and $4-$8 Omaha/8 break out on weekends, and pot-limit Omaha fires up during most major events. All feature terrific promotions. A full casino awaits for players who want to try their luck in other ways.

Late in the night, I grab a cold beer and enjoy live entertainment at one of the many bars, before retiring to my 535-square-foot suite, complete with an oversized bathroom, 320-thread-count linens, fast Internet and everything I need to wake up refreshed and ready for another day of exciting poker.

After, of course, a return visit to the eucalyptus steam room.

Event Overview

Coming soon!


Coming soon!


Coming soon!


Coming soon!


July 21-August 7, 2016, Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Lincoln, California

    Event #1 - Champion: Dalton Still
    Event #2 - Champion: David Forsberg
    Event #3 - Champion: Christina Ouyang-Hang
    Event #4 - Champion: Kyle Welter
    Event #5 - Champion: Kevin O'Donnell
    Event #6 - Champion: James Hammer
    Event #7 - Champion: Walter Stewart
    Event #8 - Champion: Danny Smith
    Event #9 - Champion: Joe Christman
    Event #10 - Champion: John Bufka
    Event #11 - Champion: John Goyette
    Event #12 - Champion: Bill Watchman
    Event #13 - Champion: Vic Campana
    Event #14 - Champion: Matt Boddorf
    Event #15 - Champion: Eric Werner
    Main Event - Champion: Declined to be identified
    Event #17 - Champion: Roy Mode
    Event #18 - Champion: Ravinder Sharma
    Event #19 - Champion: Azaan Nagra
    Event #20 - Champion: Marty Gorenc

July 27-August 10, 2015, Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Lincoln, California

  • Event #1 - Champion: Robert Ibarra
  • Event #2 - Champion: Luke Williams
  • Event #3 - Champion: Michael McMurry
  • Event #5 - Champion: Jake Morgan
  • Event #6 - Champion: Darrel Dier
  • Event #7 - Champion: Lacy Smith
  • Event #8 - Champion: Gabriel Calderon
  • Event #9 - Champion: Roger Bailey
  • Event #10 - Champion: Jake Lin
  • Event #11 - Champion: Tammy Robinson
  • Event #12 - Champion: Mike Postle
  • Event #13 - Champion: Nhat Tran
  • Event #14 - Champion: Joel Huppe
  • Event #15 - Champion: Chet Perrigo
  • Event #16 - Champion: Sean Drake
  • Event #17 - Champion: Andrew Sylvester
  • Event #18 -(Main Event) Champion: Cy Williams
  • Event #19 - Champion: Michael McGonigle
  • Event #20 - Champion: Steve Marion

July 31-August 10, 2014, Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Lincoln, California

  • Event #1 - Champion: Andy Pham
  • Event #2 - Champion: Sean Drake
  • Event #3 - Champion: Derek Raymond
  • Event #4 - Champion: Steve Parino
  • Event #5 - Champion: Survivor event - 15-way chop
  • Event #6 - Champion: Franklin Curren
  • Event #7 - Champion: Doyle Johnson
  • Event #8 - Champion: Thomas Samuel
  • Event #9 - Champion: Andrew Berlfein
  • Event #10 - Champion: Daniel Klein
  • Event #11 - Champion: Shawn Roberts
  • Event #12 - Champion: Andrew Barber
  • Event #13 (Main Event) - Champion: Justo Avalos
  • Event #14 - Champion: Zarifa Stephen

July 28-August 3, 2013, Hard Rock Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • Event #1 - Champion: Jerry Cantrell
  • Event #2 - Champion: Timothy Trahan
  • Event #3 - Champion: Mark Stephen Edwards
  • Event #4 - Champion: "Tampa Bay" Ray Del Cueto
  • Event #5 - Champion: Isaac Giiona
  • Event #6 - Champions: "Tampa Bay" Ray Del Cueto, Jason Jiminez, Francis Cruz
  • Event #7 - Champion: Jim D'Orso
  • Event #8 (Main Event) - Champion: Don Bates
  • Event #9 - Event cancelled
  • Event #10 - Champion: Dylan Shelley
  • Event #11 - Champion: Luis Matias
  • Event #12 - Champion: Markus Wolter
  • Event #13 - Champion: Markus Wolter
  • Event #14 - Champion: Mark Stephen Edwards
  • Event #15 - Champion: Michael Matrone