Jaime Haletky Wins WSOP Circuit Thunder Valley Main Event ($147,706); David Valdez Casino Champ

Jaime Haletky

The World Series of Poker Circuit Thunder Valley wrapped up its stop Monday night with the conclusion of the $1,700 Main Event, a tournament that attracted 487 runners and offered up a prize pool of $737,805.

After just five hours of play, the final table was whittled down from nine to a winner when 42-year-old Jaime Haletky emerged victorious to capture the gold ring, a $147,706 top prize, and a seat into the 2020 Global Casino Championship.

“I feel amazing, really good,” Haletky said right after the win. “I’ll just save towards a house, really that’s about it. Maybe I can do a little bit bigger buy-ins now, we’ll see.

“I still had great luck, obviously you can’t win without great luck, but I’m really happy with how I played.”

Haletky, who lives near San Jose, works as a mathematician doing cryptography programming but enjoys playing poker, a game he picked up in grad school at UC Berkley, in his free time. That often includes trips to Thunder Valley where he’s actually put together an impressive résumé that now includes two wins and a runner-up finisher in three final table appearances.

In October 2017, he won the Ante Up Norcal Classic $1,100 Main Event for $49,865, and a year before that finisher runner-up in the Ante Up World Championship for a previous career-bet $87,636.

“The other tournaments I felt were a lot of luck, in this one I’ve really studied a lot the last two years, really tried to improve my game,” said Haletky, who originally hails from Massachusetts. “I still had great luck, obviously you can’t win without great luck, but I’m really happy with how I played.”

Final Table Results

1Jaime HaletkyWalnut Creek, California$147,706
2Dapo AjayiLittleton, Colorado$91,099
3Marko PantelicBellevue, Washington$66,663
4Scott StewartLakewood, California$49,418
5Marcus LaffenCupertino, California$37,117
6Dann TurnerCleveland, Ohio$28,251
7Peter PapSan Francisco, California$21,795
8Bin DuanCupertino, California$17,045
9Bryan PiccioloAllegany, New York$13,516

Others to cash the Main Event were Jonathan Ingalls (11th - $10,870), Paul Richardson (20th - $6,162), WSOP bracelet winner Scott Bohlman (24th - $5,252), Andreas Kniep (36th - $3,232), Jarod Minghini (50th - $2,789), Bicycle Casino poker manager Mo Fathipour (56th - $2,656), and Matt Livingston (70th - $2,572).

Final Table Action

The final table got off to a quick start with a trio of eliminations in the first hour of play. The two short stacks at the start of the day were the first to go with Bryan Picciolo’s deuces failing to hold against two players, while Bin Duan followed him out the door in eighth place when his Big Slick went down in flames to the queen-nine of Scott Stewart.

Peter Pap then busted in seventh place after check-raising all in on a six-high flop with top pair only to see Stewart snap-call with pocket nines. The overpair held and Pap headed to the payout desk.

Dann Turner would take his leave in sixth place after getting his short stack all in preflop against two players. Turner wound up making aces and eights but the Dead Man’s Hand was no good as Haletky, who began the final table as the chip leader, took it down with trip fives.

Marcus Laffen then lost a race holding pocket nines to Marko Pantelic’s ace-ten suited to exit in fifth place, and Stewart was next to go as a result of a bad beat. Stewart got his healthy stack all in with pocket aces and was in prime shape to double through Haletky, who held ace-queen. However, the board ran out in such a way that Haletky made Broadway on the turn to score the knockout.

Dapo Ajayi
Dapo Ajayi

Dapo Ajayi, who had nursed a short stack for a long time before hitting his stride to rebuild, then dispatched Pantelic in third place holding jacks to the latter’s queen-jack. That resulted in a heads-up match with the two players nearly even in chips, but it still didn’t take long for things to come to a head.

Haletky pulled out to a 2.5:1 lead before the two flipped for it. Ajayi was at risk with ace-jack while Heltky was looking to hold with pocket threes. The pocket pair held strong and Ajayi had to settle for second place and $91,099 in prize money.

Valdez Wins Casino Championship

David Valdez finished as the Thunder Valley Casino Champion after cashing in five events including wins in Event #3: $400 Pot-Limit Omaha and Event #13: $400 Last Call for a total of 117.5 points. As a result, he too receives a seat into the 2020 Global Casino Championship.

The second to last event of the Circuit stop turned in to a Casino Championship tiebreaker, with four players at the Final Table competing for the Casino Championship title.

"It was really tough, but I just kept playing my game and didn't change anything. Of course, I wanted to outlast [Jimmy Wester], but I was also going for the win so I had to keep playing aggressively," said Valdez.

David Valdez
Casino Champ David Valdez
TournamentEntriesPrize PoolWinnerPrize
Event #1: $400 Opener1,319$435,270Michael Lin$70,181
Event #2: $400 Knockout195$44,850Jesse Lonis$11,062
Event #3: $400 Pot-Limit Omaha67$22,110David Valdez$7,021
Event #4: $400 NLH Double Stack125$41,250Jimmy Wester$11,241
Event #5: $400 HORSE68$22,440David Diiorio$7,125
Event #6: $400 NLH 6-Handed129$42,570Josh Prager$11,440
Event #7: $400 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better97$32,010Chris Brandin$8,310
Event #8: $400 Monster Stack620$204,600Jorge Postigo$39,649
Event #9: $400 NLH214$70,620Jasthi Kumar$16,976
Event #10: $3,250 High Roller47$141,000JC Tran$49,035
Event #11: $250 Seniors179$36,200John Valadao$9,095
Event #12: $1,700 Main Event487$737,805Jaime Haletky$147,706
Event #13: $400 Last Call388$128,040David Valdez$26,787
Event #14: $250 Series Finale188$37,600James Colson$9,359

The next WSOP Circuit stop is already underway at Mississippi’s Horseshoe Tunica. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there this weekend to bring you updates from that stop’s $1,700 Main Event.

  • Jaime Haletky topped a 487-entry field to win @WSOP Circuit @TVPokerRoom Main Event for $147,706.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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