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2023/24 WSOP Circuit - Thunder Valley Casino (Northern California)

Friday, January 19, 2024 to Sunday, January 21, 2024

WSOPC Event #12: $1,700 MAIN EVENT

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  • Buy-in: $1,700
  • Prizepool: $1,124,130
  • Entries: 742
  • Remaining: 0


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Monday, January 22, 2024 8:10 PM Local Time

Thunder Valley WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion Denis Lee 

At last fall’s WSOP Circuit in Lake Tahoe, Denis Lee had himself quite the series. Three final tables, a WSOP Circuit ring, and roughly $20,000 in tournament earnings. Not a bad couple of weeks.

Monday at Thunder Valley, Lee crushed that total in winning his second ring in just a few months along with ten times his Tahoe earnings with the $207,020 first prize.

Along with doing it in impressive fashion Monday, coming in as the short stack, things could have turned out completely differently based on a Day 1 decision that had nothing to do with the cards in his hand.

Lee late-regged Day 1A, sitting with 80 big blinds to start his day. However he was seated at a table that had yet to fill its seats. In fact, he was the first at the table and he was having second thoughts about playing.

Lee asked the Tournament Director if he could unregister and come back to play Day 1B instead. The TD convinced him to stick around, telling him that 80 big blinds would be the chip lead at the final table of the WSOP Main Event. Lee liked that analogy and decided to stick around.

He then had a successful day finishing up with 322,000 chips, good enough for 14th best on the day.

Needless to say, Lee was glad he stuck it out.

“I had to wait because the table didn’t come…but they told me I should stick with it and I did. I had a lot of the chips (by the end of the day).”

Lee’s Day 2 went well. Well enough to make Day 3 anyway, but as mentioned, he came in short-stacked. The shortest stack actually, coming back 12th out of 12 with just 7 big blinds.

So how did he make his way from there to the title? The soft-spoken champion succinctly explained.

“I just grinded.”

That he did. He immediately went to work, doubling up his stack within the first few minutes of the day and then not looking back.

He quickly built his stack back into seven figures and then doubled through start of day chip leader Dann Turner, whose day saw the opposite fortune of Lee, as his stack trended downward throughout the day, until his eventual demise in 8th place.

As for Lee, after an hour of play, the final table had been reached and he was already fourth in chips.

From there, he doubled through Turner again, then picked up kings against Joseph Spanne’s nines to eliminate him, and then had aces when Dan Sarasin jammed with kings. That sent Lee’s stack over ten million and it was off to the title from there.

Lee’s win was not only his career-best score, but it capped a record-breaking series at Thunder Valley.

The popular Northern California casino saw records fall throughout the series, including a record $1,124,130 prizepool in this event, its largest ever for a WSOP Circuit Main Event.

This concludes our coverage of the Main Event, as well as what’s been a thrilling WSOP Circuit Series here at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. Keep us bookmarked at for continuing coverage of the WSOP Circuit all season long.

Monday, January 22, 2024 8:03 PM Local Time


In a limped pot to a flop of    , Denis Lee checked to Kaylen Lebaron who bet 500,000.

Lee quickly called and the turn brought the  . What looked like a harmless turn card proved to anything but.

Lee checked again and now faced a bet of 1,000,000 from Lebaron. Lee then check-raised to 4,200,000.

Lebaron took a peek at his stack and then moved all in for just under 8,000,000 total. 

Lee called and the hands were revealed.

Kaylen Lebaron:   
Denis Lee:   

Lee's two pair was ahead of the unfortunate inferior two pair that Lebaron had caught on the turn.

Needing a deuce to steal away the pot or a queen to chop, Lebaron instead saw the   fall on the river, ending his run in 2nd place, as Lee took the title.

Dennis Lee - 29,680,000
Kaylen Lebaron - eliminated in 2nd place

Monday, January 22, 2024 7:32 PM Local Time

With the blinds so high, Kaylen Lebaron has parlayed a series of small pots into closing the chip lead of Denis Lee.

The duo is nearly even after about 15 minutes of heads-up play

Denis Lee - 15,800,000
Kaylen Lebaron - 13,700,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 7:16 PM Local Time
Level: 33
Blinds: 200,000/400,000
Ante: 400,000
Monday, January 22, 2024 7:16 PM Local Time

After exchanging raises preflop, Vijay Ramani committed his final 4,800,000 against Denis Lee.

Vijay Ramani:   
Dennis Lee:   

Ramani had kicker trouble, and after the flop came    , pairing Lee's king, he would need runners to miraculously survive.

The   on the turn ended things before the   came on the river, sending Ramani home in third place, leaving Lee heads-up with Kaylen Lebaron for the title.

Denis Lee - 20,300,000
Kaylen Lebaron - 9,200,000
Vijay Ramani - eliminated in 3rd place

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Monday, January 22, 2024 7:09 PM Local Time

Aside from a couple of big pots, it's been a lot of passing chips back and forth this level.

Stacks currently sit as follows:

Denis Lee - 15,500,000
Kaylen Lebaron - 9,200,000
Vijay Ramani - 4,800,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 6:53 PM Local Time

After taking a pot from Kaylen Lebaron, Dennis Lee has just grabbed a good one from Vijay Ramani as well.

Ramani raised the button and Lee defended his big blind to see a flop of     which they each checked.

On the   turn, Lee check-called a bet of 425,000 from Ramani.

The river was the   and after another check by Lee, Ramani fired 1,900,000. Lee made the call.

Ramani showed    for a bluff, while Lee turned over    for a winning pair of aces.

Denis Lee - 13,500,000
Kaylen Lebaron - 8,500,000
Vijay Ramani - 7,500,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 6:28 PM Local Time

Denis Lee moved in for his last 1,800,000 and got called by Vijay Ramani in the small blind.

Denis Lee:   
Vijay Ramani:   

The flop came     giving Lee a gutshot straight draw. The turn [4c[ changed nothing, but the   came in on the river to fill Lee's straight and double him up.


Vijay Ramani -10,100,000
Denis Lee - 4,200,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 6:13 PM Local Time
Level: 32
Blinds: 150,000/300,000
Ante: 300,000
Monday, January 22, 2024 5:43 PM Local Time

The final three players have been sent on a 30-minute break, returning at approximately 6:10 p.m. PT.

Kaylen Lebaron holds over half the chips in play with Vijay Ramani second, and Denis Lee needing to spin up his stack.

1. Kaylen Lebaron - 15,175,000
2. Vijay Ramani - 10,125,000
3. Dennis Lee - 4,400,000

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Monday, January 22, 2024 5:24 PM Local Time

Following a button raise from Vijay Ramani, Kaylen Lebaron three-bet to 900,000.

Ramani came back with a four-bet to 2,250,000 and Lebaron moved all in for 7,625,000.

Ramani thought for a while, cut out calling chips, and then moved them in to put Lebaron at risk in the biggest pot of the tournament.

Kaylen Lebaron:   
Vijay Ramani:   

The board came       sending the massive pot across the table to Lebaron who now holds a sizable chip lead.

Kaylen Lebaron - 15,400,000
Vijay Ramani - 7,100,000
Dennis Lee - 7,000,000


Monday, January 22, 2024 5:19 PM Local Time


Mark Bekalu moved all in on the button for 2,800,000 and got called by Vijay Ramani in the small blind who had him covered.

Mark Bekalu:   
Vijay Ramani:   

After the flop came    , the   fell on the turn, bringing Bekalu a world of flush and straight outs.

Unfortunately for him, the   bricked the river, and Bekalu's third final table of the series came to an end.

Vijay Ramani - 10,700,000
Mark Bekalu - eliminated in 4th place

Monday, January 22, 2024 4:57 PM Local Time

With about 1,700,000 already in a three-way pot on the turn with the board reading     , Kaylen Lebaron bet 600,000 from the small blind and got called by Dennis Lee in the big blind before Vijay Ramani raised to 1,600,000, leaving himself a million behind.

Lebaron folded, but Lee moved all in. Ramani happily called off with the goods.

Vijay Ramani:   
Denis Lee:   

Ramani had coolered Lee's two pair with his set of queens, leaving the   river irrelevant as Ramani took a huge pot from the chip leader.

Denis Lee - 9,300,000
Vijay Ramani - 7,700,000
Kaylen Lebaron - 6,400,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 4:46 PM Local Time
Level: 31
Blinds: 125,000/250,000
Ante: 250,000
Monday, January 22, 2024 4:42 PM Local Time


Randy Gil raised to 450,000 on the button and got called by both Kaylen Lebaron in the small blind and Denis Lee in the big blind.

The trio checked the     flop to see the   on the turn and Lebaron now led out for 900,000.

Lee folded, but Gil called, leaving himself 1,800,000 behind.

On the   river, Lebaron now checked and Gil moved all in. Lebaron thought for a couple of minutes before making the call.

"Good call, great call," said Gil as he tapped the table, stood up, and revealed his    for a failed ace-high bluff, as Lebaron showed    for a winning pair of jacks to eliminate Gil in fifth place.

The well-liked seven-footer, who can easily be called a friendly giant, shook hands with each of his tablemates and then headed to the payout desk to collect his prize money.

 Kaylen Lebaron - 9,000,000
Randy Gil - eliminated in 5th place

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Monday, January 22, 2024 4:23 PM Local Time

Randy Gil moved all in for 1,625,000 on the button and was called by Kaylen Lebaron in the small blind.

Randy Gil:   
Kaylen Lebaron:   

Just like he did a couple of hours earlier, Gil hit his ten kicker on the flop to take the lead after the dealer spread a flop of    

Through the   turn and   river, his hand held up, making aces and tens to earn a healthy double up and get back into contention.

Kaylen Lebaron - 5,025,000
Randy Gil - 3,650,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 4:07 PM Local Time

Mark Bekalu limped his small blind and Vijay Ramani checked his big blind to see a flop of    .

They checked to the   turn before Bekalu bet 200,000 which Ramani called.

On the   river, Bekalu sized up to 700,000 and after a bit of thought, Ramani called.

Bekalu showed    for top two pair and Ramani mucked his hand to send a healthy pot to Bekalu.

Mark Bekalu: 4,700,000
Vijay Ramani: 3,800,000

Monday, January 22, 2024 3:51 PM Local Time


Adam Dunkle moved all in from under the gun for 925,000 and got called by Kaylen Lebaron to his immediate left. The rest of the table folded and Dunkle was at risk.

Adam Dunkle:   
Kaylen Lebaron:   

the board came       as Lebaron's kins held to thin the field to the final five.

Kaylen Lebaron - 9,550,000
Adam Dunkle - eliminated in 6th place

Monday, January 22, 2024 3:42 PM Local Time
Level: 30
Blinds: 100,000/200,000
Ante: 200,000
Monday, January 22, 2024 3:41 PM Local Time

1. Denis Lee - 10,875,000
2. Kaylen Lebaron - 8,125,000
3. Vijay Ramani - 4,900,000
4. Mark Bekalu - 3,575,000
5. Randy Gil - 1,175,000
6. Adam Dunkle - 925,000

Playtika - Jason Alexander