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25 September 2017 (Lincoln, Calif.) - The final day of the first ever World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort wrapped up with the final two rings of the series being awarded. Nicholas Pupillo won his first career WSOP Circuit ring in the Main Event, earning $170,286. And JC Tran added to his impressive trophy case by winning the High Roller event for $43,500. This is the second career Circuit ring for the former November Niner, to go along with his two WSOP bracelets

Completed Events

Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Multi-flight Re-entry - Darren Bortmas wins $72,754
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #2: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Justin Clark wins $9,989

| Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #3: $365 Senior Event - Todd Rich wins $8,802
Results | Winner's Photo

Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Bounty - Tracy Ott wins $11,906
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #5: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed - Brett Murray wins $9,817
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #6: $365 Pot Limit Omaha - Roger Bailey wins $9,360
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #7: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack - Daniel Evans wins $21,782
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #8: $365 H.O.R.S.E. - Dennis "D. Mike" Morrison wins $7,140
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #9: $580 No-Limit Hold'em - Al Sanchez wins $17,919
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #10: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed - Sean Yu wins $11,970
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Francis 'Andy' Witek wins $11,005
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #12: $1,675 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - Nicholas Pupillo wins $170,286
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #13: $2,200 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller - JC Tran wins $43,500
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Casino Champion Update

Brett Murray (pictured above) has locked up the Casino Champion race after a successful series at Thunder Valley. He has booked five cashes including one ring for 122.5 points. The next-closest player behind him was Randy Gil with 87.5 points but he was unable to make it deep in the Main Event or the High Roller. Just for good measure, Murray has made the final table of the High Roller at 1:00 p.m. and could book his sixth cash, but would be irrelevant in the points race. Murray has won himself a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship. Congratulations!

A full look at the leaderboard can be found via the link below.


About the Winners

Darren Bortmas: Winner of Event #1
The four-day opening event at the first ever World Series of Poker Circuit at Thunder Valley Casino Resort is in the books and Darren Bortmas is the champion after a long, 15-hour grind on Day 2. The Roseville, California arson investigator topped a whopping 1,406 entries across five starting flights to earn his first Circuit ring and $72,754.

Bortmas explained that this is his biggest win to date and had a good run of cards to go with his solid play to take this one down. “I was actually short-stacked coming in (to the final table) and got lucky. I mean, look at the cooler this guy got” smiled a humble Bortmas. The hand he is referring to is the final one where Bortmas flopped queens full of sevens, while his opponent and runner-up, Sasha Sabbaghian, flopped trip sevens.

The local recreational player says he has been playing for 17 years and his job as an arson investigator helps him while he’s playing poker. “I interview people all day long. I know when they’re lying and I know when they’re not” laughed Bortmas.

Justin Clark: Winner of Event #2
Justin Clark of Nevada City, California has come out on top of Event #2: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo for $9,989 in his first ever tournament win. This is also the very first ring awarded at the newest World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

The gymnast-turned-lawyer came in to the final table near the bottom of the pack and admittedly saw a good run of cards to take it down. “This is the first tournament that I came back from after a very, very long bad run of just not cashing and so everything just sort of evened itself out. I had about two months of bad and then all of the good rushed back in on this tournament.”

In a heads-up battle that lasted less than 20 minutes, Clark defeated Greg Pincombe after flopping bottom two pair against Pincombe’s top pair and backed into a flush for good measure. The newly-crowned champion soared past the likes of notable Circuit player Brett Murray and 2017 WSOP Seniors’ event runner-up Bill Murray to earn himself his first ring. Clark also bagged a stack for Day 2 of Event #1 and comes back on Sunday to “make a little noise” and try and go back-to-back.

Tracy Ott: Winner of Event #4
The fourth event in the newest World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort wrapped up late in the night with Tracy Oto getting the job done. The self-employed recreational player sits atop a field of 243 entries, taking home $11,906 for his biggest score.

Oto is a quiet and simple man, enjoying the competition that comes with poker. This doesn’t stop on the felt, however, as the 62-year-old Sacramento native also enjoys bass fishing and competitive paintballing. “This is my biggest win, but my second one” said a proud Oto. He took down a local tournament earlier in the year, but is enjoying his first gold ring.

Brett Murray: Winner of Event #5

It’s been a long time coming for World Series of Poker Circuit regular Brett Murray. The professional poker player from Santa Rosa, California came in to his tenth final table and booked his 26th Circuit cash to finally come out on top and win his first ring. In addition to the title, Murray pocketed $9,817.

When the final table started Murray jokingly said, “I never win anything. I come to donate.” The fun-spirited grinder has now crossed the $500,000 mark in live earnings and booked just his second career win, with his first one being three years ago right here at Thunder Valley.

Murray is known to be a quiet and humble guy. When asked how he feels about the win he responded, “It was nice. It feels great. I came in with an average stack and sort of just sailed.” This is Murray’s third cash this series, and a win today puts him at the top of the Casino Champion race so far in line for a seat into the Global Casino Championship at the end of the season.

Roger Bailey: Winner of Event #6

Business owner and father of two Roger Bailey took down Event #6 $365 Pot Limit Omaha at the halfway mark in the first ever World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley. Bailey topped a field of 104 entries and pocketed $9,360 along with his first gold ring.

The champion came in to the final table as the overwhelming chip leader with a quarter of the chips in play and took it all the way. Bailey defeated Chet Perrigo late on Monday night and when asked about his win he said, “I’m very happy. This is my first circuit ring. I play here most of the time.”

The Modesto, California native owns a business and plays recreationally but has an impressive six career wins. This is his third-biggest lifetime cash with his best being for $10,980.

Daniel Evans: Winner of Event #7
Daniel Evans found himself heads-up in the $365 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack, up against his friend and Circuit regular Brett Murray. Both players were up for their second ring, with Murray winning his first a few days ago. Evans won this exact event in Lake Tahoe two years ago and was on par to win again. In the final hand, Murray got it in with ace-king and Evans called with ace-queen. The flop came queen-high and Evans’ fate was sealed.

Evans earned himself $21,782 for the win, but the real prize was his second career gold Circuit ring and title.

The 32-year-old Chico, California native came in to the final table in the middle of the pack but quietly climbed his way to the top. His career earnings have now surpassed the $200,000 mark and he has booked his fourth live tournament win. Evans had a loud and supportive rail behind him as he clinched a ring in his home state in the very first Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Dennis "D. Mike" Morrison: Winner of Event #8

Dennis “D. Mike” Morrison of Castro Valley, California is the victor in the $365 H.O.R.S.E. event, taking home $7,140 after topping a field of 68 entries.

The proud poker veteran laughed and said “I first went to the World Series of Poker in 1994 and witnessed Phil Hellmuth look like he wanted to strangle Men Nguyen.” Morrison says he has been going to the WSOP for over 40 years and his favorite tournament is the 8-game mix.

Morrison has 29 cashes now and has added a Circuit ring to his list of accomplishments. His biggest win came right here in Lincoln, California where he came in 4th place for $20,000. He is a recreational player and clearly has a love for the game. “I’ve been playing this game forever and I’ve never gone bust!” he laughed. “I have to go and drive to work. I won’t call in. That’s not who I am” said a prideful Morrison.

Al Sanchez: Winner of Event #9
It’s been a busy week for Penryn, California’s Al Sanchez. He just sealed the deal and took down Event #9 $580 No-Limit Hold’em for $17,919 after making this second final table of the day and third of the week.
Sanchez had his supportive wife on the rail each time, and after making this third final table he felt as though he had to finally close one out. When asked how he felt about finally winning one he said it was “a relief. All of the pressure is left off.”
This is Sanchez’s best career cash after he finished in 6t h place in the opening event for $14,742. “This is the best finish I’ve had in anything of this magnitude” said a proud Sanchez.
The newly-crowned champion is a close second to current leader Brett Murray in the Casino Champion race and plans to play the Turbo tomorrow as well as the Main Event.

Sean Yu: Winner of Event #10
The $365 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed event concluded after a two-hour heads-up battle and Sean Yu was victorious. He won his third WSOP Circuit ring, denying Jose Esparza his second ring. Yu topped a field of 140 entries to pocket $11,970.

Yu is a professional poker player who travels the West Coast playing tournaments. His two previous Circuit rings came from Main Event wins for over six-figures, making this the first side event he has won. Following his Global Championship win in August for $296,941, he won The Commerce Poker Series Main Event for $209,030 just a week ago.

Francis 'Andy' Witek: Winner of Event #11
The final preliminary ring event is in the books with Francis ‘Andy’ Witek taking down Event #11 $365 No-Limit Hold’em for $11,005. He clawed his way into the lead to take down the start-of-final table chip leader Shawn Lawrence in a lengthy heads-up battle.

Witek has played a number of tournaments in his lifetime and boasts three cashes in the World Series of Poker Main Event. He had yet to win a tournament but today was his day. The Nevada City, California resident is a recreational player who got into poker playing five-card draw and lowball when he was younger. The newly crowned champion plans on playing the Main Event tomorrow to chase ring number two.


Nicholas Pupillo: Winner of Event #12 (Main Event)

The first ever World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort is officially in the books now that Nick Pupillo has taken down the Main Event. The professional poker player earned himself his second Circuit ring along with $170,286 and a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship.

Pupillo just came in second place in a major tournament in Atlantic City last week for his biggest career cash worth $217,535. He hopped on a plane to Northern California immediately and decided to close one out this week. When asked about finally booking a win after several close calls Pupillo said, “It feels great. It’s been a a while, I think 2016, since I won a tournament. So it feels awesome.”

JC Tran: Winner of Event #13 (High Roller)

After firing multiple bullets in the Thunder Valley $1,675 Main Event, JC Tran decided to hop in the $2,200 High Roller at the last minute and take one more shot at a ring at his come casino. Sure enough, about seven hours of play later, he locked up his second-career World Series of Poker Circuit ring, adding to his two WSOP bracelets.

Tran pocketed $43,500, tipping his overall live earnings over $12.8 million and making this his 18th career tournament win. Of those earnings, the pro booked his biggest career-cash coming in 5th place in the 2013 WSOP Main Event for $2,106,893 as part of the November Nine. He also won two bracelets in 2008 in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event for $631,170 and the next year in 2009 in the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for $235,685. Tran also earned himself a Circuit ring in 2005 in Las Vegas at the Rio, earning $97,470.