Wilson Tolon Wins Biggest-Ever AUPT World Championship Main Event

Wilson Tolon won the 2021 AUPT World Championship Main Event

One of northern California’s most important poker hubs realized a long-awaited return of major live tournament action.

The Ante Up World Championship revisited its familiar home at Thunder Valley Casino, as the Sacramento-area poker venue hosted a 17-event series Aug. 13-29. The live tournament festival marked the first series put forth by the Ante Up Poker Tour since November 2019.

The AUPT World Championship also marked a return to normalcy for Thunder Valley. Located in Lincoln, CA, the Thunder Valley poker room frequently hosts the WSOP Circuit, WPT, and many other major tournament series.

The August series brought a major tournament festival to Thunder Valley for the first time since a March 2020 WPT stop. Players from northern California and beyond descended on Thunder Valley in huge numbers, with a record-setting Main Event capping off the series.

AUPT Wraps Up Return Event at Thunder Valley

The AUPT World Championship commences at Thunder Valley every summer. The series began in 2014, and has run every year except 2020.

The return of the series resulted in the biggest Main Event in the history of the AUPT World Championship. The $1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event guaranteed $500,000, but the final prize pool nearly doubled that mark.

A total of 674 entries pushed the final prize pool to $985,388, the largest in the history of the tournament. Wilson Tolon emerged as the official champion per the terms of a four-way deal, going home with a $123,765 payday.

2021 AUPT World Championship $1,650 Main Event Final Table Results*

1Wilson Tolon$123,765
2Jasthi Kumar$111,820
3Greg Pincombe$110,199
4Dawson Dvorak$102,169
5Amir Lehavot$45,920
6Steve Dempsey$36,685
7Jason Hickey$30,390
8Shain Matthews$24,190
9Anne Bui$18,160

*Reflects the term of a four-way deal

The final four surviving players all went home with six-figure paydays, per the terms of a four-player deal at the final table. Northern California regular Wilson Tolon came away with the biggest share of the prize money, winning the Main Event for $123,765.

Other top finishers included four-time WSOP Circuit Ring winner Jasthi Kumar (2nd - $111,820), Greg Pincombe (3rd - $110,199) and Dawson Dvorak (4th - $102,169). The Main Event came ten entries away from eclipsing the $1 million prize pool mark.

Several other events on the AUPT World Championship schedule also saw massive attendance and guarantees far surpassed. Pat Lyons took down the $1,000 NorCal Classic, adding a $65,000 cash to his resume.

The NorCal Classic promised $100,000 in prize money, but the attendance of 392 entries resulted in a $352,800 final prize pool. The trend of smashed guarantees persisted across the board at the 2021 AUPT World Championship.

2021 AUPT World Championship Series Results

DateTournamentEntriesPrize PoolWinnerPrize
Aug. 13Event #1: $240 Season Opener328$65,600Vihane Inthavisak$10,512
Aug. 14-15Event #2: $1,000 NorCal Classic392$352,800Pat Lyons$65,000
Aug. 15Event #3: $300 30/30/30457$116,535Richard Fifield$18,990
Aug. 16Event #4: $200 Omaha 8186$30,690Emiliano Figueroa$7,775
Aug. 16Event #5: $200 Knockout224$25,760Eyyal Altar$5,720
Aug. 17Event #6: $200 PLO102$16,830Jeffrey Brock$3,963
Aug. 17Event #7: $240 Jacked Stack369$71,800Rommel Damasco$10,315
Aug. 18Event #8: $200 HORSE80$13,200Tom Tseng$4,450
August 18-22Event #9: $460 Monolith1,472$588,800Lang Vo$52,968
Aug. 19Event #10: $200 Big O54$8,910Joseph Brandenburg$2,960
Aug. 22Event #11: $200 20/20/20371$61,215Melvin Feder$10,179
August 23-25Event #12: $275 Action8858$201,620Rommel Damasco$23,494
Aug. 25Event #13: $300 Fast Cash Bankroll Builder103$16,995Owen Glenn$1,133
Aug. 26Event #14: $400 Head to Head Championship64$21,760Paul Brown$6,096
Aug. 26Event #15: $300 Knockout170$27,520Gary Neese$3,411
Aug. 27-29Event #16: $1,650 AUPT World Championship674$985,388Wilson Tolon$123,765
Aug. 29Event #17: $500 Last Call166$73,050Brian Waller$12,601

The AUPT and the Thunder Valley poker room reduced the number of events for this year’s World Championship in anticipation of record-setting attendance. The 2019 edition on the AUPT World Championship offered 30 events, with combined prize pools ending up at just under $1.85 million.

Not wanting to push the venue past its capacity limits, tournament officials cut down the number of events to 17 for the 2021 AUPT World Championship. Those 17 tournaments awarded $2.68 million in combined prize money, by far a new record for the series.

Joseph Brandenburg won the series Player of the Year race, winning Event #10: $200 Big O and making final table appearances in two other events. Brandenbug edged out Rommel Damasco, who won two events in the series.

  • The 2021 Ante Up World Championship drew record numbers to Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, CA.

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