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David Larson Wins, Joe McKeehen Third at WPT Rolling Thunder

David Larson
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  • David Larson joined the WPT Champions Club, denying Joe McKeehen once again.

Former World Series of Poker Main Event winner Joe McKeehen has established himself as one of the very best tournament players in the world today and had two near-misses in bids to add a World Poker Tour title to his two bracelets. His latest attempt fell just short again as he finished third in WPT Rolling Thunder for $131,081.

One man's near-miss is another man's title though, and David Larson pulled the upset to grab a lifetime ticket to the coveted WPT Champions Club. The local NorCal player claimed $295,128 in prize money, about 10-times what he had previously cashed in total.

Official Final Table Results

PlacePlayerHome CountryPrize
1David LarsonUSA$295,128*
2Ian SteinmanUSA$201,428
3Joe McKeehenUSA$131,081
4Ping LiuUSA$97,510
5Rayo KniepGermany$69,650
6DJ AlexanderUSA$56,417

*includes $15,000 Tournament of Champions seat

On the heels of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, what was once the final leg of the on-hold California Swing drew 440 entries for the $3,500 event.

The tournament paid out 55 places, and Anthony Zinno, Dylan Wilkerson, "East Coast" Mike Ross, Olivier Busquet, and Ari Engel were among those cashing but missing out on the final table. Two-time WPT champ Sam Panzica and 2016 WPT Legends of Poker winner "World Famous" Pat Lyons navigated into the final 10 but busted 10th and ninth, respectively to miss out on the TV final table.

Final Table Action

While McKeehen went in as the clear favorite and headliner, live cash player Ping Liu held the chip lead, according to the live updates, with 3.3 million at 20,000/40,000/5,000.

Larson had the shortest stack by far with under 20 big blinds but found a double on the second hand dealt when he picked up queens and shoved over a raise and a call. Flat-caller McKeehen held {a-Hearts}{j-Hearts} and looked Larson up but was flopped all but dead as a queen hit.

DJ Alexander, profiled here on PokerNews at his first WPT final table last year, would be first to go in sixth. He lost a flip and then stuck his last 12 big blinds in with {k-Spades}{9-Spades} and couldn't overcome the {10-Hearts}{10-Diamonds} of Larson.

Meanwhile, McKeehen swept up pot after pot and took command, moving into the lead over the course of the next 70 hands or so. One of the hands McKeehen won, will be talked about for quite some time as his opponent Ian Steinman laid down a set of kings to him. Read all about that hand in the article The Fold of the Century? Steinman Lays Down a Set of Kings to McKeehen!

Rayo Kniep decided the best way to slow him down was to flat with kings in the small blind, but his play backfired when Ian Steinman came along in the big blind and turned trip tens after everyone checked to a board of {j-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{5-Clubs}{10-Clubs}. Kniep check-raised all in and his best chance was a flush as he held the {k-Clubs} but the river missed him and Steinman's {10-Spades}{8-Clubs} took it.

Steinman then busted Liu when the latter jammed his last 14 big blinds with a dominated queen-ten and ran into Steinman's ace-queen.

McKeehen's downfall then began when he jammed from the small blind against a short-stacked Larson and couldn't overcome ace-king with queen-seven. He then tried bluff-shoving over a Larson lead on a {j-Hearts}{5-Spades}{4-Hearts} flop, but Larson wanted to gamble with {a-Hearts}{7-Hearts}. McKeehen could only muster {q-Clubs}{9-Clubs} and bricked out to bust third.

That left Steinman and Larson, with Steinman up about 2-1. Larson quickly turned that around and dominated early play to hammer Steinman down to about 15 big blinds. Steinman won some back but would go down in a three-bet pot when his kings were outdrawn Larson's ace-six in a three-bet pot. Larson turned aces full and Steinman couldn't find a fold when his river bet was shoved over, granting Larson the pot and title without having to sweat any outs.

Photo courtesy of WPT

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