The 2019 World Series of Poker Circuit Thunder Valley $1,700 Main Event marked the fifth time such an event had been played at the Thunder Valley Poker Room in Lincoln, CA. Paul Richardson had made three of the four previous final tables, with two fourth-place finishes and an eighth-place finish.
And in a casino where there are no number fours, it would prove to be Richardson’s magic number as his fourth final table appearance finally led to victory. Richardson outlasted a field of 414 entries to claim the top prize of $130,667 and shared his feelings on winning after the tournament.
“It’s fantastic,” said Richardson. “I’ve been playing poker for a long time, and (have) slowly but surely been getting better and better; grinding away, so to have a first big win feels great.” He said the final table had a lot of pressure and consisted of a lot of gambling across the entire table.
Richardson had his ups and downs throughout the day, though he said he felt good the whole time. “I kept saying to myself, ‘play your game. You know, play your strategy. I tried not to think about the tournament and where I was at; just purely play my game.”
Final Table Results
|1||Paul Richardson||United States||$130,667|
|2||Arish Nat||United States||$80,761|
|3||Travis Fujisaka||United States||$58,653|
|4||Paul Chai||United States||$43,198|
|5||Roman Shainiuk||United States||$32,271|
|6||Bobby Pham||United States||$24,458|
|7||Terence Reardon||United States||$18,810|
|8||Landen Lucas||United States||$14,682|
|9||Soumitra Nagar||United States||$11,634|
Final Table Action
After playing through the final 45 minutes of Level 24 at the end of Day 2, the final nine came back for a fresh start Monday for the beginning Level 25.
The first hour of play saw Paul Chai, who entered the day second in chips, double up Travis Fujisaka with pocket jacks to pocket queens. Chai lost a bit more from there, but then doubled back up from Fujisaka to claim the chip lead.
Soumitra Nagar was then the first to bow out at the final table, lasting nearly two hours into the day. Nagar hit the rail after exhausting the last of a ten big-blind stack, getting all in preflop with ace-three against Travis Fujisaka's ace-jack. with Fujisaka chipping up to nearly 50 big blinds after the win.
Landen Lucas had come into the final table as the shortest stack and hung around long enough become the eighth-place finisher just 10 minutes after Nagar's elimination. A few hands later, Terence Reardon was the next to go out, finishing a slew of eliminations that came in rapid fire.
Reardon was the victim of a bad beat laid on by Bobby Pham, as Reardon woke up with pocket jacks in the big blind and called off his stack when Pham shoved all in from middle position. Pham had two fives and found a third on the flop, sending Reardon to the rail as the first break of the day began.
About 45 minutes into the next level, Pham then made his exit as the sixth-place finisher. He shoved all in with pocket sixes and ran into Chai's pocket eights. Pham couldn’t find a miracle this time and sent the tournament into five-handed play.
The action began to slow down with five players remaining. Arish Nat took advantage of the pace, chipping up with a handful of pots. Meanwhile, Chai’s stack went up and down several times, riding the roller coaster that ensued from his big-pot style of poker.
Roman Shainiuk, who entered the day looking for a wire-to-wire victory, had a smooth start to the day. He continued to build, eclipsing the four million chip mark in Level 27. By Level 28, however, Shainiuk’s luck ran out, and his tournament run ended when Chai took the last of his 1.1 million after shoving all in with queen-ten and not getting there against Chai's pocket sevens.
Four-handed play began with Richardson as the short stack, but he found a double with ace-ten to Chai's ace-four. His trend went straight up from there, vaulting to the chip lead when he knocked out Chai in fourth place after his pocket tens held versus Chai's ace-jack when the two got stacks in preflop.
Having battled as a short stack for much of the day, Fujisaka's then got last 17 big blinds in preflop with ace-ten to Nat's pocket fives. The flop gave Nat a set of fives but Fujisaka picked up both a wheel and nut flush draw in the process. He was unable to fill up further and finished in third place as a result.
Richardson entered heads-up play with roughly a two-to-one chip lead, though Nat won a series of pots early in the match to pull even. Play continued for about an hour after that, with Richardson regaining the chip lead several times, only to see Nat climb back into contention.
From there, Richardson would pull away one last time before the final hand of the tournament ensued. The two got stacks in on the flop after a single-raised pot preflop. Richardson shoved over a bet from Nat and was immediately called, with Nat holding a pair of threes on a jack-eight-jack flop. Richardson had ten-nine, giving him a ton of outs. The board double-paired on the turn to counterfeit Nat's two pair, and Richardson faded chop outs on the river to emerge as the victor.
After the tournament, Richardson was asked if he felt like this was his event: "Clearly," he responded with a laugh, adding that this was not only now his favorite event, but also his favorite place to play poker. "My friends keep saying, you always finish fourth, so it's great to finish first."