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Hafiz Khan wins Main Event; Steven Tabb (pictured) wins the High Roller; Ron Brown is Casino Champion

January 23, 2018 (Sacramento, CA) - The second of two World Series of Poker Circuit stops at Thunder Valley in Northern California has wrapped up with 12 official ring events in 12 days. Rings were won, records were broken and fun was had by all.

Event #1 attracted 1,511 entries for a new record of 629 entries coming in on the final flight, and the Main Event brought in 599 entries for just shy of $900,000 in the prize pool, up from September’s 528 entries and $792,000 prize pool.

The $1,675 Main Event with $500,000 guaranteed wrapped up on Monday night with online poker phenom Hafiz Khan taking it down for his first ever Circuit ring. Khan was on a two-year hiatus prior to these last 12 months of making a return to the game he loves. This was his third major final table and he finally sealed the deal. It was also his first ever Circuit Main Event and he is now one for one. Khan earned himself $188,686 for the win, but was only a fraction of his biggest score of $1.4 million exactly 10 years ago in the Bahamas.

Runner-up in the Main Event was Roland Shen after coming back from being the shortest stack at one point. He earned himself $116,706 as a consolation prize, after relinquishing a 10-to-1 chip lead that he had over Khan at the start of heads-up play. Khan led the field for most of Day 2 and only let go of his lead when they were down to 10 players on the Day 3 bubble. He bagged the third-biggest stack and the real grind began with nine remaining.

Monster Stack champion Michael Scott finished in fifth place for $47,647, almost doubling his biggest career score after winning Event 6 earlier in the week for $24,812.

Final Table Results:
1st: Hafiz Khan - $188,686
2nd: Roland Shen - $116,686
3rd: Gregory Guth - $85,340
4th: Elisa Nakagawa - $63,326
5th: Michael Scott - $47,647
6th: John Chase - $36,344
7th: Steven Michaelis - $28,105
8th: Vijay Ramani - $22,031
9th: Josh Prager - $17,503

To kick things off early in the series, Devin Jackson took down the five-flight opening event for $78,199 for his second career ring. He defeated Germany’s Andreas Kniep, who only started playing poker a year ago, and also managed to dodge Hafiz Khan in 3rd place ($35,543). WSOP bracelet winner Haixia Zhang was also in the mix, busting in 4th place for a payday worth $27,021, falling just short of adding another piece of hardware to her collection.

Fast forward to the Knockout, and it was Circuit regular and fan-favorite Bob Mather who won the title. In the final hand, he walked away from the table in a flip with deuces against ace-high and came back to see if he won. He has been chasing a title and working hard on his game for a long time. It finally paid off. Mather earned $14,355 for his win, and pushed past the likes of Rafael Gonzalez (4th - $4,748) and Kindah Sakkal (5th - $3,561).

Ron Brown has earned himself the title of Casino Champion after winning two rings in Events 4 ($12,958) and 8 ($17,919), plus a deep run in Event 10. He collected a total of 110 points and navigated his way through tough players including Circuit champions Neil Scott, Valentin Vornicu and Sam Lee. The player who accumulates the most overall points during the 12 ring events at Thunder Valley earns the title of Casino Champion and receives automatic entry into the WSOP Global Casino Championship. Additionally, all players who cash in ring events earn points that apply toward the season-long race to claim one of the limited at-large bids. More information on the points system is available on WSOP.com. The National Leaderboard will have an up-to-date list of points now that the series is complete.

Retired professional snowboarder Jarod Minghini took down the Pot Limit Omaha ring event for $9,180 and his first title. The predominantly no-limit hold’em cash game player has started to dabble in tournaments here and there, and has only played in a few pot limit Omaha tournaments. It looks like this will be the start of a bright future of mixed games for Minghini. Allen Kessler, Andrew Barber, Ken Po, Jake Rosenstiel and Kevin O’Donnell all made deep runs in this event also.

The final event of the series was the $2,100 High Roller and attracted 56 entries for a prize pool worth $112,000 paying out six spots. In the end, professional high stakes cash game player Steven Tabb locked up his second Circuit ring and pocketed $42,000 in the process. He defeated start-of-day chip leader Todd Sladek after coming in to heads-up play with a four-to-one chip lead. Well-known poker pro Thomas Zanot finished 3rd ($17,024) and WSOP Colossus II champion Ben Keeline finished in 5th place for $8,624.

When all was said and done, the stop at Thunder Valley brought some of the toughest competitors on the Circuit. While Ron Brown captured the Casino Champion race with three cashes, Jed Hoffman cashed four times, the most of anyone during the series. Bob Mather cashed three times as well, along with Kindah Sakkal, Ben Keeline, Main Event Champion Hafiz Khan and Canada’s James Albion.

And finally, arguably the greatest story of the week was that Circuit regular Charles ‘Woody’ Moore booked 101 cashes on the Circuit alone. The three-time ring winner celebrated that with a final table appearance in the Monster Stack event with a 7th place finish for $3,729. Moore has also qualified for the Global Casino Championship for seven years in a row now and is the only player to do so.

The stop at Thunder Valley is now complete, and with all of the success here there is sure to be more to come in the future.

WSOP Circuit stops running at the moment are Horseshoe Tunica and at Casino De Marrakech. More information can be found on WSOP.com.


Casino Championship

Congratulations to Idaho's Ron Brown, winner of the Casino Championship race at Thunder Valley. Brown captured two rings this week, in Events 4 and 8, and finished in 12th place in Event 10. His combined results this week totaled $32,087. Two events are still running on Monday, however based on the standing there are no longer any players that can catch Brown with 110 points locked up.

Brown wins a free entry into the Global Championship later this year with a shot at a World Series of Poker bracelet and a six-figure payday.

Here is a look at his results for the week:

Event #8: $580 No-Limit Hold'em - 1st place: $17,919
Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold'em - 1st place: $12,958
Event #10: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed - 12th place: $1,210

Casino Championship Leaderboard

National Leaderboard


Completed Events

Event 1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em $300K - Devin Jackson tops 1,511 entries to win $78,199
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 2: $250 Senior Event - Andrew McKenzie tops 213 entries to win $10,650
Winner's Photo | Results

Event 3: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Knockout - Bob Mather tops 299 entries to win $14,355
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 4: $365 No-Limit Hold'em $25K - Ron Brown tops 160 entries to win $12,958
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 5: $365 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better - Brendon Thomson tops 137 entries to win $11,506
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 6: $365 Monster Stack - Michael Scott tops 376 entries to win $24,812
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 7: $365 H.O.R.S.E. - Steve Lustig tops 63 entries to win $6,515
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 8: $580 No-Limit Hold'em $50K - Ron Brown tops 128 entries to win $17,919
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 9: $365 Pot Limit Omaha - Jarod Minghini tops 102 entries to win $9,180
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 10: $365 NL 6-Handed - Larry Odegard tops 253 entries to win $20,116
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 11: $1,675 Main Event - Hafiz Khan tops 599 entries to win $188,686
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed - Adriano Wise tops 194 entries to win $15,132
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results

Event 13: $2,100 High Roller - Steven Tabb tops 56 entries to win $42,000
Official Report | Winner's Photo | Results



About the Winners

Event 1: Devin Jackson
Devin Jackson has taken down the opening event at Thunder Valley in the second ever Circuit stop. The Californian won his first ring in 2010 in the H.O.R.S.E. event and finally locked up another, taking home $78,199 for his biggest live cash.

“It feels great. I've worked so hard for this, there's been so much trials and tribulations. It feels so great to take it down without a chop" said an emotional Jackson. The 29-year-old San Francisco State student is studying finance, but still makes time for poker. “I don’t play as much, but I still travel to tournaments often.” Jackson explained that he came up in the game playing online back in the day and has put a lot of work into his game. He learned by talking with friends and from experience.

Event 3: Bob Mather
Bob Mather is a familiar face among the many players that pass through the poker room at Thunder Valley, clearly a fan favorite. He managed to win himself a ring and $14,355 for his biggest tournament win to date, bringing his overall earnings over $400,000. His biggest overall cash totals $28,000.

"It feels great. It is truly off the bucket list to get a ring. Bracelet's next, which would be a dream come true. And it's extra special in literally my favorite casino in North America with just the best staff” said a proud Mather.

When asked about his profession as a CEO and Private Investigator and applying his skills to poker he said, “This is a hobby. Everything helps, but it's hours on the table. I spend a lot of hours playing and then it comes down to 20 percent, 30 percent luck.” Mather explained that he got into poker during the “online craze” and has put a lot of work into his game. He is clearly relieved to book this win and move on to the next item on his poker bucket list.

Event 4: Ron Brown
Ron Brown traveled to Thunder Valley for the first time to chase a ring with his friend Patrick and his dream was realized in Event 4. Brown defeated his opponent quickly heads-up and locked up $12,958 along with his first ever Circuit ring.

When asked about how he got into poker Brown said, “I’ve been playing poker my whole life. When I retired I took it up as a hobby and I decided if I wanted to play, I have to get good enough so I don’t have to put in lots of money. So, there we go!” Brown said he plays a lot and has read a lot of books. “I’ve read maybe 20 poker books, and I play the World Series all the time.” Brown was going to leave town on Thursday, but has decided to stay to chase the Casino Champion race now that he has won an event.

Event 5: Brendon Thomson
After a long day, Brendon Thomson came out victorious in the first ever Omaha Hi-Lo ring event at Thunder Valley. The California native locked up his biggest score worth $11,506 along with his first ever Circuit ring.

The father of two is no stranger to mixed games though, as this is his fifth win overall and they all include a combination of Chinese Poker, Omaha Hi-Lo and H.O.R.S.E. titles. In fact, all of his live recorded cashes come from a range of mixed games.

Event 6: Michael Scott
The two-day Monster Stack ended with Michael Scott being the last player standing, earning his very first Circuit ring and career tournament win. Scott topped a field of 376 entries and won $24,812 along with the title.

The medical consultant from Elk Grove, California was surprised and happy. "It feels really good. I'm still in shock" laughed Scott. "I honestly felt like, I hate to say this, like this was meant to be. I had pocket aces like nine times throughout the tournament, I had pocket kings another eight."

The husband and father laughed and said, “My wife’s gonna be a little shocked. She knows I’m here playing but she didn’t think I was gonna win.”

Event 7: Steve Lustig
Steve Lustig made the final table of the Omaha Hi-Lo event on Monday night and finished as runner-up. He wasn’t satisfied, so he made the final table of the H.O.R.S.E. event on Tuesday night and made it to heads-up play again. This time, he got the job done.

Lustig definitely plays No-Limit Hold’em, having cashed the World Series of Poker Main Event, but is a mixed game specialist based on his results. He made the WSOP $10K Omaha Hi-Lo final table in 2014, finishing in 7th for $65,472. He has also final tabled the $3K Omaha Hi-Lo event in 2006, as well as Doyle Brunson’s Five Diamond Classic event in 2011. Lustig came back from being the shortest stack at the table to finishing at the top of the list, pocketing $6,515 and his first Circuit ring.

Event 8: Ron Brown
“I’m so enthused I don’t even know what to say” said the newly crowned two-time Circuit champion Ron Brown. He is the first two-time champion at Thunder Valley, taking down two events in just three days. Brown takes home $17,919 and his second Circuit ring along with his winnings and ring from Event #4. “I was supposed to be on my way home today, but I decided to stay because I wanted to go after the points.”

Brown is going to “go home and digest” and hop into some more Circuit events before heading to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this summer. The Idaho native retired and turned to poker as a hobby. He wanted to get better at the game and that has definitely shown with his two wins. He now sits comfortably at the top of the Casino Champion leaderboard.


Event 9: Jarod Minghini
Jarod Minghini retired from professional snowboarding in 2017 and has been getting into poker in the process. He was a member of the U.S. snowboard team and competed in Bordercross. The Tahoe native scooped the Pot Limit Omaha ring event for $9,180, earning his first Circuit ring in the process.

Minghini is predominantly a cash game player, and decided to give this mixed game tournament a try after having no luck playing No-Limit Hold’em that day. “I've mainly played no-limit tournaments. This is only my third PLO tournament ever. I was short the whole tournament. I've been wanting a ring, it feels so awesome.” The newly crowned champion is looking to get into more mixed games, but for now he’s going to play the rest of the events this week in hopes of being contention for Casino Champion.

Event 10: Larry Odegard
Larry Odegard made the final table in Event #8 just last night and decided to get the job done this time. The newly crowned champion pocketed $20,116 in Event #10 while earning his first ever tournament win and Circuit ring.

When asked how he got into poker, Odegard said, “I’ve loved poker all my life since I was a kid, but actually when I started to get into this kind of poker was about 10 years ago when I started working at the casino. I was a proposition player.” The San Jose native said he was short on chips before he reached the money, but managed to spin it up and turn it into a win.

Event 11 Main Event: Hafiz Khan
Winner's Story

Event 12: Adriano Wise
Adriano Wise took down the final $365 ring event at Thunder Valley for his first ever Circuit ring and overall tournament win. Wise also locked up his biggest cash, pocketing $15,132 for the victory. The newly crowned champion is a Political Science professor in the Bay Area at West Valley college and plays poker as a hobby.

"Of my circle of friends, we've all had good runs and cashes and final tables at different Circuit events. Tahoe and here (Sacramento). This'll be the first ring amongst the crew. Definitely bragging rights." The San Jose native says he is a recreational player, but came up playing poker with his friends and remains competitive with them. "I used to play agro and used to act like I knew everything" laughed Wise. "I think once I humbled myself I got a lot better."

Event 13 High Roller: Steven Tabb
Winner's Story