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WPT event at Thunder Valley Resort

by Linda Johnson |  Published: Mar 19, '14


I’d been looking forward to getting away by myself to play some poker so going to the inaugural WPT event at Thunder Valley Resort in Lincoln, California seemed like a great idea. I always enjoy experiencing new cardrooms, but this trip turned out to be even better than I had expected.

I flew into Sacramento and rented a car and drove 45 minutes to my destination. The check-in process was easy and I was delighted to see my room…535 square feet of modern luxury. The room had a big-screen television, refrigerator, three telephones, and a large marble bathroom with a huge tub. In fact, my good friend B.J. Nemeth who travels the poker circuit as part of the media team tweeted that it was perhaps the nicest room he had ever had for work.

Shortly after I arrived, Director of Poker Ben Erwin called to welcome me and check to see that I had everything I needed. He told me that the preliminary $100,000 guaranteed $1,100 event that day had drawn more than 360 entrants; what a success! Throughout the weekend, Erwin continued to impress me as he worked night and day making sure that the poker room was operating efficiently and that the players were receiving great customer service.

The buy-in for this WPT event was $3,500. Players could re-enter once on Day 1A and then could play again on Day 1 B and have another re-entry. In trying to figure out my personal best buy-in strategy, I decided to play Day 1A and hopefully make it through to Day 2 on one buy-in. If I busted out on Day 1A, I would buy-in again on day 1B, but would not re-enter on either day. Unfortunately, I went out relatively early on the first day when my pocket kings ran into pocket aces. The good news is that I got to explore the area and had lots of time for shopping. I got back to the casino in time to go to the buffet with Dan Ross and Harold Sugarman from Hold’em Radio. These guys are really funny and dinner was quite enjoyable.

The poker room was booming with long waits to get into live games so I decided to enjoy my room and get a good night’s sleep for day 1B. It turned out to be a good thing because we played 12 hours the next day. I was at a very tough table and we only eliminated two players during that 12 hours. I ended the day slightly below average, but with the terrific tournament structure, I still started Day 2 with 60 big blinds. Three hours into Day 2 with about 115 players left out of the 435 entries, I was eliminated in the same way as on Day 1A when I picked up pocket kings against an opponent’s pocket aces.

I was on an airplane headed back to Las Vegas three hours later and am following the live updates from home. Kudos to Thunder Valley Poker Director Ben Erwin, Executive WPT Tour Director Matt Savage, tournament assistant Jeff King, and the entire staff for putting on such a great event. I expect that when word gets out about how successful the event was, the field could easily double next year.

I’m home for three days, then will be leaving for the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi to host the Mississippi State Ladies Poker Championship March 21-23. More information about this event can be found here . I hope to see you there!

Linda Johnson
Card Player Cruises

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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