Hafiz Khan Wins WSOP Thunder Valley Circuit Main Event for $188K
The $1,675 WSOP Circuit Main Event at Thunder Valley in Northern California attracted 599 runners across two starting days and local pro Hafiz Khan from nearby Stockton put together a dominant performance to reaffirm his return to poker. Khan also had to overcome a 10-1 chip deficit heads up to walk away with the $188,686 win in the first Circuit Main Event he has ever played.
According to the WSOP live updates, Khan finished Day 1 with the overall chip lead and continued that momentum into Day 2, doubling his stack early in the day. Amazingly, he then maintained his chip lead the entire day, losing it only after the final 10 came together. Khan entered the final day of play third in chips of the remaining nine.
Some familiar names to bust in the money on Day 2 included Charles “Woody” Moore (22nd place), Ben Keeline (27th), Sean Yu (30th), Kindah Sakkal (46th), Justo Avalos (51st), Tommy Chen (55th) and Tony Bracy (57th place).
Final Table Payouts
Final Table Action
The short stack going into the final nine was Josh Prager, and he was the first to go when he got his remaining seven big blinds all in with ace-ten but couldn’t get it to hold up against the jack-nine of Michael Scott, one of two players at the final table with a ring to their credit.
The other ring winner at the table, Greg Guth was responsible for the next elimination. Guth picked up ace-king to eliminate Vijay Ramani, who committed his short stack with ace-queen suited. A jack-high paired board run-out gave Guth the chip lead and sent Ramani home in eighth place.
Steven Michaelis raised from the hijack and called off his stack with ace-queen suited when Scott three-bet shoved from the big blind. Scott won the flip with his pocket sevens when Michaelis couldn’t connect with the board.
Out in sixth was the start of final table chip leader John Chase who took a one-two punch from Roland Shen. After Shen doubled through Chase early in the day with ace-ten against king-queen all in preflop, the two clashed again when Shen raised with ace-queen and Chase defended his big blind with queen-six. Both players made a pair of queens on the queen-high flop, but Shen’s was best. Chase check-raised the flop and shoved the turn, only to have Shen call on both streets and knock Chase out.
Scott, who won the Monster Stack for his first ring earlier in the series, fell in fifth place after losing two big hands to Khan. In the first hand, Scott tried unsuccessfully to bluff Khan off of kings, and then three-bet shoved for his remaining stack with ace-six suited, called by Khan with king-nine suited. Khan flopped two pair to take the lead and faded Scott’s turned straight and flush draws to get the field down to four.
After taking the chip lead, Shen eliminated Elisa Nakagawa in fourth when his ace-queen held up against Nakagawa’s ace-six suited, despite her picking up the nut flush draw on the turn.
Three-handed, Guth three-bet shoved with ace-ten after Shen’s open and Shen called with pocket fives to put Guth at risk. The board ran out queen-high and Shen took a more than 5-1 chip lead into heads-up with Khan.
In an epic heads-up battle, Shen looked like a massive favorite up nearly 10-1 in chips, only to have the scrappy Khan come clawing his way back. First, Khan doubled after flopping a flush with all in preflop. A little later, Khan backed into trip deuces with king-deuce against Shen’s after a queen-high flop, getting all the chips in on the river for another double up.
Khan Closes it Out
Khan continued to run hot to take over the lead, only to have Shen close the gap on multiple occasions. Shen eventually got chipped down to under 11 big blinds and got it in with queen-eight, only to be called by Khan with a dominating ace-queen. The flop gave Shen the lead, but he would need to fade an ace or a jack to stay alive. The turn was a blank, but the river gave Khan Broadway for the win, a fitting end to a fairytale run.
Khan told tournament reporters he had a feeling about this event and told friends he was going to win it. It’s one thing to feel like you are going to win a tournament, but to have other people telling you the same can make the vision seem like even more of a reality — which is what Khan experienced in this one.
"People have been telling me all week while I'm walking in the halls. They just grab me and tell me I'm gonna win."
Known as “hafizzle” online, Khan had ample online success before Black Friday and parlayed that into a successful live tournament career with his first cash being a runner-up finish to ElkY Grospellier in the $8,000 EPT PCA for over $1 million ten years ago in 2008.
His win at Thunder Valley brought his live tournament earnings up over $2.75 million and may translate to more Circuit stops for the pro, who recently took a couple years off of playing full-time but assured reporters, “I’m back.”
Photo courtesy of WSOP
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