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Third to First: Tom West Finds Redemption in HPT Thunder Valley to Win $154,590

Tom West
  • Tom West topped a field of 464 entrants to win the Heartland Poker Tour Thunder Valley Casino Resort for $154,590.

  • After finishing third in the same event back in January, Tom West won HPT Thunder Valley Casino Resort for $154K.

The big money in most poker tournaments is found in the top three spots. While making it that deep is an accomplishment in itself, coming so close and failing to win can be gut wrenching. That's something Tom West knows all too well after finishing third in the Heartland Poker Tour Thunder Valley Casino Resort back in January.

Fortunately for West, he didn't have to wait long for redemption. On Monday, West returned to the property and this time finished as the last man standing in the 464-entry field, a feat that earned him $154,590, the largest cash of his career. The stop marked the tour's fifth visit to Thunder Valley Casino Resort, which is located just outside of Sacramento.

"I feel incredible," West said after the win. "It's hard to express in words how it feels."

Prior to the win, West's had $418,935 in tournament winnings including $126,925 for a runner-up finish in the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic $330 No-Limit Hold'em; $64,676 for the aforementioned HPT Thunder Valley third-place finish; and $31,280 for 43rd in the 2008 World Poker Tour LAPC Main Event. West also finished 346th in this year's World Series of Poker Main Event for $29,329.

Final Table Results

1Tom WestMountain View, CA$154,590
2Nic VuSan Rafael, CA$94,500
3Randall SmithTracy, CA$62,642
4Minh NguyenModesto, CA$43,553
5Craig GoldBelmont, CA$32,598
6Adam GhattasReno, NV$25,205
7David CareyRohnert Park, CA$20,500
8Daniel HatchSanta Clara, CA$16,803
9Doron ShakoSan Jose, CA$13,442

West got off to a hot start at the final table by eliminating both Daniel Hatch and David Carey. Regarding the latter, West put him to the test preflop, and Carey called off with pocket sixes, which were racing against the ace-queen of West. Unfortunately for Carey, a queen spiked on the turn, which was followed by a blank on the river. With that, Carey, a self-employed consultant from Rohnert Park, California, was sent to the rail in seventh place for $20,500.

While West faced some stiff competition at the final table, none gave him more trouble than runner-up Nic Vu of San Rafael, California. In what would be the final hand of the tournament, Vu flopped a diamond flush draw and went with it when West, who held the best hand, shoved all in. The fifth diamond never materialized, and Vu had to settled for second place and a $94,500 consolation prize.

The HPT now travels to Daytona Beach, Florida for a series that kicks off on Thursday. Visit for a complete schedule and a list of all other upcoming tour stops.

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