Fresh off a runner-up finish in a major tournament just last week, professional poker player Nick Pupillo takes down the first ever World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Thunder Valley for $170,286. The newly-crowned champion has also won himself a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship along with his second-career gold Circuit ring.
The 25-year-old native of Illinois is the oldest of seven children, now living in Gilbert, Arizona. A lot of his time is spent traveling the poker circuit but comes from a big family. “I try to get family time in Arizona, and I’ve got a girlfriend” he explained. Outside of poker, Pupillo enjoys playing basketball and playing video games with his brother.
Just last week, Pupillo finished as runner-up in a major tournament for his biggest-career cash worth $217,535. He also made a few Circuit final tables this year, including a runner-up finish early in the year. When asked about finally closing out Pupillo said, “It feels great. It’s been a a while, I think 2016, since I won a tournament. So it feels awesome.”
An impressive trait coming from Pupillo is that he displayed razor-sharp focus while on the final table. When talking about how he maintains this on a regular basis, Pupillo explained, “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career. I struggled with, like, money management and stuff like that, but things are turning around. Better now.”
The pro explained how he used to take Adderall but is sober now. When asked how he prepares for tournaments now he said, “Just getting good rest and staying sober and stuff like that is very important.”
Pupillo may have just flown in from Atlantic City, but he says this (Thunder Valley) is one of the better stops and he enjoys playing the WSOP Circuit Main Events. The pro plays cash games but focuses on tournaments since this is where he has had the most success.
The champion came in to the final table with 1,190,000 chips and quietly made his way to three-handed play while runner-up Dann Turner steamrolled his way to the chip lead. Pupillo eventually made a big call with pocket deuces following a shove from Casey McCarrel (3rd place), who ended up holding nine-high. The board was scary with several draws but Pupillo held on to go into heads-up play almost even.
Pupillo found himself on the ropes after Turner won several big pots, but he found some key spots to double-up and eventually finished the job with ace-six over Turner’s ace-five. Turner flopped a five, but the river was a miracle six and Pupillo locked up the win. The newly-crowned champion took the liberty of setting up his own impressive display of chips for his first tournament win in over a year and was all smiles.
This was the first ever WSOP Circuit stop at Thunder Valley Casino Resort and certainly won’t be the last. Another stop is scheduled in January 2018, and Pupillo is now the inaugural Main Event champion.
The $500,000 guaranteed Main Event attracted 528 entries across two starting flights and paid out 54 spots for a prize pool of $792,000. Some of the notable players to make the money included Jed Hoffman (5th), Steven Tabb (8th), Woody Moore (11th), Tony Bracy (16th), David Rosenbloom (26th), and Sean Yu (47th).
Final Table Results:
1st place: Nick Pupillo - $170,286
2nd place: Dann Turner - $105,281
3rd place: Casey McCarrel - $76,911
4th place: Paul Richardson - $57,016
5th place: Jed Hoffman - $42,879
6th place: Paul McCaffrey - $32,710
7th place: Glenn Larson - $25,304
8th place: Steven Tabb - $19,855
9th place: Roque Quiambao - $15,800
Live Updates from the Main Event
Full Results from the Main Event