September 16, 2019 (Sacramento Area)Paul Richardson just became the latest Main Event Champion of the 2019/2020 World Series of Poker Circuit season. Richardson outlasted a field of 414 players to walk away with the Thunder Valley Main Event title, $130,667, and his first Circuit ring.

“It feels great. I’ve been playing poker for a long time and I’m slowly but surely getting better and better. I’ve been working hard on my game so it’s time to pay.”

Richardson got extremely close to claiming the title of the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Thunder Valley multiple times in the previous seasons. In fact, out of a total of five Circuit Main Events at Thunder Valley, Richardson has now final tabled four of them. He finished 4th in September 2017, 4th in September 2018 and 8th in January 2019 before finally breaking through and claiming the title.

“Four out of five. It’s amazing. My friends keep saying you always finish fourth so it’s great to finish first!”

The final table was a roller coaster for Richardson. He came to the final table 6th in chips and things weren't going his way at the beginning of the day and he found himself with only ten big blinds left at some point. However with multiple final tables appearances under his belt, Richardson never lost composure and focused on his performance to turn things around.

“There was a lot of ups and downs, a lot of pressure, a lot of gambling. I got short at one point down to ten bigs and I doubled up with ace-ten against ace-four. That was crucial. But I felt pretty comfortable. I kept telling to myself play your game, play your strategy. I tried not to think about where I was at, and just purely play my game.”

When the heads-up portion of play started, Richardson had a 2 to 1 chip lead, but it wasn't an easy victory. Arish Nat put up a fight and managed to even up the field but that didn’t last long as Richardson took back the lead soon after. It all ended when on a jack-jack-eight flop, Arish Nat bet and Richardson moved all in. Nat called with his last chips turning over a pair of threes, and Richardson tabled ten-nine for an open-ended straight draw and over cards. The turn came an eight for Richardson to counterfeit Nat's two pair and the river was a seven, improving Richardson's hand to a straight for him to win the tournament.

“It was back and forth then he came back, he had a spur where he won quite a bit. We were both getting a little bit anxious to do something and he snap-called with threes there. Pretty good call but obviously I had a lot of outs. I got lucky to hit.”

Final Table Action

Soumitra Nagar was the first casualty of the final table. Nagar needed to find a spot to double and after Travis Fujisaka opened from the hijack, Nagar three-bet shoved with ace-three suited. Fujisaka called with ace-jack and the board was of no help to Nagar who headed to the rail in 9th place.

Landen Lucas was up next to exit the tournament. Lucas was down to 19 big blinds and he three-bet shoved with nines only to get snap-called by Arish Nat who had aces. Nat improved his hand to a set of aces and that was it for Lucas’ run in the Main Event.

Lucas was followed to the payout desk by Terence Reardon. Bobby Pham shoved from the hijack with fives and action folded to Terence Reardon who called for less with jacks. Reardon was ahead but Pham flopped a set of fives and Reardon was eliminated in 7th place.

Pham was sent to the rail in 6th place. Paul Chai opened from the cutoff with eights and Pham responded by moving all in for 13 big blinds with sixes. Chai made the call and turned a set of eights to win the pot and eliminate Pham.

Roman Shainiuk’s run ended in 5th place. He had 19 big blinds left and moved all in from the cutoff with queen-ten. Chai tank-called from the small blind with sevens. Shainiuk flopped a gutshot straight draw but couldn’t hit, and was eliminated.

The next casualty was Paul Chai. Chai opened from the cutoff with ace-jack and Richardson three-bet jammed from the big blind with tens. Chai made the call with his last chips, and couldn’t hit, heading to the rail instead in 4th place.

Travis Fujisaka headed to the payout desk in 3rd place. Atfer Richardson raised, Fujisaka moved all in from the small blind with ace-ten for about 17 big blinds and Arish Nat reshoved from the big blind with fives and Richardson let it go. The flop gave Nat a set and Fujisaka a flush draw and a gutshot. But the turn improved Nat’s hand to a full house and that was it for Fujisaka’s Main Event run.

Arish Nat fell one spot shy of winning the Main Event. In a raised pot preflop, the flop came jack-jack-eight and Nat bet with threes. Richardson responded by moving all in with ten-nine. Nat called with his last chips. The turn was an eight, for Richardson to counterfeit Nat's two pair and the river came a seven giving Richardson a straight for him to eliminate Nat as the runner-up. 

Final Table Results

1st place: - Paul Richardson - $130,667
2nd place: Arish Nat - $80,761
3rd place: Travis Fujisaka - $58,653
4th place: Paul Chai - $43,198
5th place: Roman Shainiuk - $32,271
6th place: Bobby Pham - $24,458
7th place: Terence Reardon - $18,810
8th place: Landen Lucas - $14,682)
9th place: Soumitra Nagar - $11,634

Other notables who cashed in the Main Event include David Brookshire (55th place - $2,532), Steven Grybas (38th place - $2,747), Allen Kessler (34th place - $2,940), Brett Murray (31st place - $3,203), and  Kelly Minkin (28th place - $3,552).

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