Wilson Tolon Wins Biggest-Ever AUPT World Championship Main Event
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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*
*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
|Aug. 13||Event #1: $240 Season Opener||328||$65,600||Vihane Inthavisak||$10,512|
|Aug. 14-15||Event #2: $1,000 NorCal Classic||392||$352,800||Pat Lyons||$65,000|
|Aug. 15||Event #3: $300 30/30/30||457||$116,535||Richard Fifield||$18,990|
|Aug. 16||Event #4: $200 Omaha 8||186||$30,690||Emiliano Figueroa||$7,775|
|Aug. 16||Event #5: $200 Knockout||224||$25,760||Eyyal Altar||$5,720|
|Aug. 17||Event #6: $200 PLO||102||$16,830||Jeffrey Brock||$3,963|
|Aug. 17||Event #7: $240 Jacked Stack||369||$71,800||Rommel Damasco||$10,315|
|Aug. 18||Event #8: $200 HORSE||80||$13,200||Tom Tseng||$4,450|
|August 18-22||Event #9: $460 Monolith||1,472||$588,800||Lang Vo||$52,968|
|Aug. 19||Event #10: $200 Big O||54||$8,910||Joseph Brandenburg||$2,960|
|Aug. 22||Event #11: $200 20/20/20||371||$61,215||Melvin Feder||$10,179|
|August 23-25||Event #12: $275 Action8||858||$201,620||Rommel Damasco||$23,494|
|Aug. 25||Event #13: $300 Fast Cash Bankroll Builder||103||$16,995||Owen Glenn||$1,133|
|Aug. 26||Event #14: $400 Head to Head Championship||64||$21,760||Paul Brown||$6,096|
|Aug. 26||Event #15: $300 Knockout||170||$27,520||Gary Neese||$3,411|
|Aug. 27-29||Event #16: $1,650 AUPT World Championship||674||$985,388||Wilson Tolon||$123,765|
|Aug. 29||Event #17: $500 Last Call||166||$73,050||Brian 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.