17 September, 2018 (Lincoln, Calif.) – It's been two years running now that Brett Murray has won a Global Casino Championship seat at the World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Thunder Valley. Murray was the inaugural Casino Champion here at Thunder Valley's first circuit stop and now he's followed that up with his first Circuit Main Event title as well. His success at Thunder Valley is so impressive, in fact, that some of the staff around the casino have started to dub him, "The God of Thunder," a nod to Thor from the Marvel franchise comics.
And it's not really a surprise that Murray finds a lot of success here. It's a mixture of being a talented poker player and having his home and father just a stone throw away for him. Murray's father lives just a five minute drive away and for him, it's something that helps his game immensely.
"I don't like being at the casino all the time," Murray explained. "So I'll just go home and hang with him and relax. It's definitely nice for my off days."
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for Murray in this event. It took him four bullets to find some traction.
"It felt amazing," Murray said about his miraculous turn around. "I was on my fourth bullet with eight bigs and was feeling pretty shitty. But I went on a sick heater and started running good throughout the whole tournament."
According to Murray, he won a flip to double up, put a sick cooler on someone when he went running straight against running two pair and he never had to look back from there. Murray finished on Day 2 as the chip leader and he hung on to that for the majority of the final table, never letting up. During the final table bubble, Murray was playing extremely aggressively, opening almost every hand.
"I just thought that they would all be wanting to get into the top nine and nobody would want to get tenth," he explained. "I've played with most of them before and I knew that they would all be playing pretty tight and kind of let me abuse them unless they have a good hand."
During the final table Murray eliminated four of his eight opponents, using his chip lead to apply pressure and to put him in a good position to win the tournament.
The first to fall though was Tommy Chen who was eliminated by Adam Duong when Duong rivered a straight with king-queen to crack Chen's ace-king. Next to fall would be Jason Mayer, who lost a flip to Eyyal Altar to head to the rail. The first play Murray would actually eliminate was Marlon Nonales. Nonales defended from the big blind and shoved all in with a flush draw, but Murray flopped top pair and held up to notch the elimination and send Nonales to the rail.
Adam Duong would eliminate Eyyal Altar next when his nines flopped a set against Altar's ace-king after an all-in preflop. Viet Tran would send home Stuart Tuvey shortly after that. Tuvey moved all in with ace-king but ran into the pocket kings of Tran and hit the rail when he couldn't catch up. Paul Richardson fell victim to Murray after that when his king-jack wasn't able to best Murray's ace-ten.
This left players three handed and players remained relatively even for quite some time.
"It was a long battle, yeah," Murray said. "They both played really well and we were all trying to play small ball for the most part."
Eventually, Duong would become the shortest of the three and he tried a bluff with bottom pair, but Murray was holding top pair and didn't let go. Murray turned two pair and sent Duong to the rail leaving him heads up with Viet Tran for the title. Tran would end up getting short after losing several hands in a row then changed his strategy. He started moving all in in the dark.
"It definitely threw me off," Murray said about the strategy. "It was definitely different. I mean yeah, he was super short, but only two doubles away from being even. So it definitely made it tougher. I had to win some all ins."
And Murray would win those all ins. The short stacked Tran would bluff all in with a gutshot straight draw, but Murray was holding hte best of it with pocket kings. He would hold up and take down the tournament, earning the Main Event title, a circuit gold ring, a seat in the Global Casino Championship for the second year in a row and the $151,145 first place prize.
Full Final Table Results:
1st - $151,145 - Brett Murray
2nd - $93,444 - Viet Tran
3rd - $68,264 - Adam Duong
4th - $50,606 - Paul Richardson
5th - $38,058 - Stuart Tuvey
6th - $29,032 - Eyyal Altar
7th - $22,460 - Marlon Nonales
8th - $17,623 - Jason Mayer
9th - $14,024 - Tommy Chen
That wraps up the coverage of the 2018 Thunder Valley World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event. A full list of results for this event can be found here. To read all the hands that led up to Murray's victory you can click here.