Thunder Valley Casino

Lincoln CA

Owned by United Auburn Indian Community

Casino Monitor:  Need Volunteer

This page is no longer being updated as of 20 FEB 2009.
See the vpFREE2 database for latest information.

Players Club Information

$1 Coin-In = 1 Point

Cashback: None

Earned Comps: 500 Points = $1 (0.20%)

Best Games

7/5 BP (98.0%)

$25 PROG (RF) in high-limit area.

8/5 DDB (96.8%)

25c (1/3/5/10 Play) scattered around casino.

Video Poker Host(s)



Web Site

Casino City Link


*** MIA - MAY 2008 ***

(10) 5c/25c MG/MD PROG (SEQ RF) NSUD in the Penny section called "Thunder Royals".

MAY 2008

The games in the Penny area are short pay deuces and are 5c (25 coin) rather than 5c/25c.

MAY 2008

500 pts = $1 comp. Nothing playable except a bank (10 machines) of 5c/25c NSUD in
the Penny section with a HUGE Prog Seq RF. The bank is called "Thunder Royals".

DEC 2005

$1 coin in equals 1 comp point; 750 comp points is $1 at Buffet or 24-hour
Thunder Cafe; 1,000 comp points is $1 at Food Court.

SEP 2005

Thunder Valley has a multi-line deuces wild game just under 99% - since I don"t play deuces, it was a 25/15/9 and 4 for quads and 4 for FH - maybe someone who plays ducks can fill in the rest of the paytable.

TV continues to be a VP wasteland. They added spin poker and multi-strike poker. The good games continue to be 7/5 JOB in quarters or 8/5 JOB in dollars, 6/5 Bonus Poker in quarters and 7/5 bonus poker in dollars, etc.. Still no cash back. Comps are either 0.13% in Thunder Cafe or 0.10% in the food court, which is over priced. The only positive is Thunder Valley mails $5 free play per month, sometimes I get $20 extra free play if I put more money into the machines, but why would I since the machines suck.

NOV 2004

I spotted $1 8/5 JOB - about 97.3%! I also spotted some $1 Double Bonus that was 9/6 as opposed to the full pay 10/7. Things have also improved in the lower denominations given the various 7/5 JOB and 7/5 Bonus Poker. TV will give 5X points on $1 and higher reel slots, but will only give 2X points for VP.

I finally made the second level of player"s club (you needed to generate 7,500 coin-in within 90 days or so), and the casino increased my monthly free play to $40 a month (2x$5 per week) from $5. I also got a coupon book: free 2,500 points, double point coupons, free gift (it was a coffee mug), $5 in free play, 2 for 1 at Starbucks, and food discounts. Additionally, I now qualify for some promos and get a 5% food discount at Thunder Cafe.

OCT 2004

$.25 DDB non-progressive jackpot machines were changed this morning. Now 8/5 (96.8%)instead of recent 7/5 on Triple-Play/Five-Play/Ten-Play (a few months ago was actually only 6/5, yikes!!!!) Single play machines in the brand new non-smoking room were actually 9/5 when the room opened not many days ago, changed this week to 8/5 also. $.25 5-coin progressive jackpot DDB"s are still 6/5.

SEP 2004

In the high-limit area, there is a $25 machine progressive with a 7-5 Bonus Poker pay table, which is probably the best vp pay-table in the whole casino.

SEP 2004

I was there briefly to check up on the games. Nothing is playable for the advantage player. I did notice one small positive sign - their bonus game pay table improved from: 800-50-[80-40-25]-10-7-5-3-1-1 to 800-50-[80-40-25]-10-8-5-3-1-1 notice the improvement in the flush value to 8 for 1. Okay the game now returns ~94% from ~92%. Good grief.

JUN 2004

I was doing some research and found the casino made something like $300 million in net profits in its first year of operations. Wow! For those who aren"t familiar with TV, it"s the home of about 1,900 slot machines located 30 minutes from Sacramento. The vp games, practically all IGT machines, are kindly known as vacuum cleaners given their ev of about 94 to 97% and high variance!

The casino has very tight slot machines. TV offers a rewards program (no Cashback), a four-tier slot club, every dollar of action is a comp point and about 1,000 comp points is a comp dollar or about 10 basis points (0.10%). TV has improved its comp program by offering triple points, free comp points, and cutting the comps points to a comp dollar by halve so comp dollars is now 20 basis points (or 0.20%). Also, the casino offers gifts of the month and private invites (I don"t qualify since I can"t find any games to play where I have the advantage!)

My ratings are*:

VP Game inventory: 1
Comp dollars**: 4
Cashback: 1
Service: 6
Promotions: 4
TiTo: Yes

Other Info: The cafe has great late night specials, the CWs have eye- catching attire, and the Falls Bar is pretty novel.

* 1-10 scale where a "10" is I"m parked there 24/7, a "7" is on my playlist, and a "5" is average.

** With triple points and reduced comp transfer rates, the comp dollar rate is 60 basis points (0.60%) and is much higher than Colusa, and not to mention the 4-tier slot club, why is Colusa rated a "6" while TV is rated a "4". Two things: (1) It has to do with Colusa offering numerous video slot games with ev of 99%, which makes Colusa slightly above average and TV below average. (2) Without the reduced transfer rate, TV"s comp rate is only 30 basis points.

APR 2004

If you are a serious video poker or blackjack player focused on quality games, pass on by. There is nothing here of interest (that I can find, anyway).

I first visited Thunder Valley on their opening week (about a year ago, I believe). At that time, I discovered:

1. A stunningly lovely casino in a great, convenient location just a few miles off Interstate 80.
2. A packed to the gills property.
3. 30+ blackjack tables, some with six deck shoes and decent rules (but with terrible cut card placement).
4. Only the buffet and fast food court open.
5. No live poker room. Lots of Pai Gow poker and a smattering of 3 card poker and similar carnival games.

I thought that, after the first blush of excitement they might have loosened up the machines a bit to attract more sophisticated players. I was wrong . . . in fact, just the opposite.

1. I can now find no shoe games as all. As near as I can tell, they have gone to 100% continuous shuffle - location details unknown.
2. The place is still packed (they must be making a fortune).
3. All their restaurants are now open (and there are some very nice ones).
4. The video poker has improved not a whit from my first visit.

Their video poker inventory features such stunners as:

$1 Double Bonus 7/5 Progressives
.25 Bonus Poker Multipplays 6/5
$5 Bonus Poker 7/5
$5 Double Double Bonus 8/5
Deuces Wild Paytables so bad I calculate them at about 94%
$2 Bonus Poker 6/5

If you are willing to play $25 a hand, you may find paytables as good as an, oh, 98.5% return . . . but don"t count on it.

I can"t say I blame Station Casinos for not loosening up on paytables. If you could pack nearly every machine with customers willing to play 97% (or worse) paytables, why bother?

SEP 2003


JUN 2003

This is a gorgeous casino both outside and inside - as you might expect from a Station Casino"s designed property. The look and feeling reminds me a bit of the Las Vegas Suncoast, with colors in a soft, muted tan, brown and deep, RSS red. Chairs are very comfortable, have a leather-like look and feel and are mounted on some sort of piston/spring type base.

This property, as has been feared, will likely do quite a bit of damage to the Reno market. The feeling of the property is that the gaming floor is bigger than anything except the Reno Hilton. Of course, all the machines are brand new ticket-in, ticket-out. The place was jam-packed on a Wednesday afternoon.

Video Poker - No stars. Not a single full pay schedule anywhere to be found, and some of the worst paytables in existence even at the higher denominations. For fun, I evaluated the return on some of the representative machines that I found.

Triple/Five/Ten Play - location details unknown.
Double Bonus $1: 9/6
Deuces Wild $1: 25/15/10
Joker Poker Kings or Better $1: 50/15/7/5
Bonus Poker $1: 6/5

Single Line Progressive - location details unknown.
Double Bonus .25: 7/5
[94.5% base return]
Deuces Wild .25: 20/10/8
[91.4% base return]
Bonus Poker .25: 8/5 but only 1 for two pair
[86.3% base return]

Single Line Progressive - location details unknown.
Double Bonus $5: 8/5
Bonus Poker $5: 7/5
Double Double Bonus $5: 8/5/4/3/1/1

The machines were so busy that - at times - I had to circle a bank like a vulture to wait for somebody to get up and let me check the paytables. If this property stays busy they are going to make a fortune. Of course, even the dimmest of gamblers may realize that their money is not lasting very long - especially compared to games available in the Reno market - and tire of the newness and the rapid bankroll depletion. However, Station Casinos is also a very smart operator and could easily loosen the machines over time to prevent that from happening.

Food - They have a very nice food court with some excellent selections. Starbucks Coffee, Fatburger, Gordito Burrito, Villa Pizza and Panda Express. The Feast Buffet is $9.99 for lunch, so don"t expect this to be a big super-bargain buffet. Other restaurants that are not yet open but coming soon include Austin"s Steakhouse, Shanghai Fat, Thunder Cafe (their coming 24 hour coffee shop). Until the coffee shop is open they are keeping their buffet open 24 hours per day.

Other Games - They have about 60 blackjack tables, quite a few Pai Gow tables, and an assortment of Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, and a few other table games. There are no dice games. The vast majority of the blackjack tables are $15 minimum, $500 maximum. I spotted one $5 minimum table and a scattering of $10 minimum tables. Approximately 75% of the tables use continuous shuffle machines with the remaining games using a six-deck shoe with an automatic shuffler. There is no hand shuffling anywhere in the casino.

Rules are hit soft 17, double after split allowed. The six deck shoes are having their cut card placed half way down, cutting fully three decks from a six deck shoe (I"ve seen counter paranoid casinos before but I"ve never seen anything quite like this!). With a base house advantage of around .6% and cutting off fully half of a six deck shoe, this ranks as one of the worst games in the country, as near as I can tell. Of course, as you can probably already imagine, the tables were packed.

They have no live poker. There is an Asian gaming room and a High Roller gaming room, neither of which was yet open.

Accommodations - None, for now.

Conclusion - Although it"s possible that they loosen up the video poker paytables and improve the blackjack rules over time, as the newness of the facility wears off, they would have to go a long, long way before there is anything attractive to play here. And, let"s face it, why bother as long as the place is packed with people willing to play their existing, hugely profitable machines?

The world is not a zero-sum game . . . Thunder Valley"s gain does not have to lead to Nevada"s loss. However, in my opinion it likely will. I"m old enough to remember when the explosion in California poker rooms occurred, and when they were able to deal any form of poker and not just draw poker. It devastated the large poker rooms in Reno almost overnight, and they have never returned with the activity and variety of games that they once had.

Reno has much to sell besides gaming, but then California has some stunning areas of its own. It"s just hard to see, as large scale Indian gaming continues to explode, how this will not severely hurt the Northern Nevada gaming market.

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