57-year-old software engineer takes down first major title
January 21, 2019 (Thunder Valley) - The latest ring winner in the World Series of Poker Circuit is Thomas Kornechuk, who has taken down the Thunder Valley Main Event for $193,439. The victory gives Kornechuk his first WSOP Circuit ring, his biggest career cash -- by a wide margin -- and also locks up an entry into the 2019 Global Casino Championship.
From 608 entries, just 17 players remained as Day 3 began, with Kornechuk roughly in the middle of the pack. He started to heat up early in the day, doubling up while there were still 16 remaining, when Jeremy Joseph pushed all in from the small blind and Kornechuk woke up with queens, which held.
Kornechuk was only occasionally in danger thereafter, and by the time the later stages of Day 3 arrived, he was among the dominant stacks. A key hand for Kornechuk occurred against Paul Chai during 10-handed play. Chai had just lost a couple of hands in a row and moved all in, only to run into Kornechuk's aces. After that hand it seemed like the Auburn, WA, resident, a 57-year-old software engineer who took up the game only two years ago, couldn't be stopped. By the time the last card was dealt, Kornechuk had eliminated four of his final-table foes. The last and perhaps most feared was Brett Murray, who won this same event in the September Circuit Thunder Valley series.
It was a breakthrough effort for Kornechuk, who decided a couple of years back to dedicate himself to studying poker. "I think I have what it takes," he said, and this result offers proof of his hard work. "I started a year ago dedicating one trip somewhere a month, if I can." Kornechuk has played events on several tours and logged his first two cashes at the WSOP last summer.
Kornechuk credited his continued study for his win. "I've followed a few different coaches. I've studied a lot of scenarios with them. I've read books about mental preparedness, specifically poker. And I've tried to apply that."
Then there's how he applied those studies. "My game plan was to be conservative as much as possible, and apply pressure when I saw openings to do so. I was looking for a couple of tells that I saw. I attacked those. I think that's what changed for me," meaning his new-found skills and confidence in the game.
Kornechuk's life as a self-employed software engineer -- he's working on "sort of a startup" right now, allows him the freedom to pursue more poker success. And now, he's got the bankroll to chase that success as well. Kornechuk has already made plans to attend most of this summer's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, playing numerous events.
Kornechuk is also a native Canadian who moved to the United States in 2000, and he's had dual US and Canada citizenship since 2016. The family man and father of two daughters has some other plans for his windfall other than poker. "I'm going to get a generator for the RV," he said. However, the RV won't be making this summer's Vegas trip. "I switched my RV reservation to a hotel reservation."
The tournament started on Friday, pulling in 233 entries on Day 1A. Tommy Chen led that flight's 55 survivors, while. Day 1B attracted 375 runners, and Matt Affleck emerging on top of 1B's 114 returning players. The remaining 169 players came back on Day 2 to play ten 60-minute levels before bagging up and advancing to the final day of the tournament, where Jeremy Joseph would start as Day 3's chip leader. In just two and a half hours the final table was reached. The final table would play for just five more levels before Kornechuk claimed his breakthrough win.
1st - Thomas Kornechuk - $193,439
2nd - Brett Murray - $119,644
3rd - Jeremy Joseph - $87,488
4th - Yifu He - $64,921
5th - Tony Bracy - $48,847
6th - Chris Tham - $37,259
7th - Ryan Jaconetti - $28,813
8th - Paul Richardson - $22,586
9th - Paul Camby - $17,943
Live updates from the event.