Recreational poker player David Larson closed out the World Poker Tour’s California swing with a win in the WPT Rolling Thunder event. Larson defeated a field of 440 entrants and walked away with $295,128 and a seat in the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions.
Larson followed up Dennis Blieden’s win at the L.A. Poker Classic by staring down a field of pros and walking out a winner.
The tournament at Thunder Valley is the WPT’s fifth trip to Lincoln, CA and coincided with the opening of the casino’s new poker room.
Final table lineup
Seat 1: Joe McKeehen – 2,755,000 (69 bb)
Seat 2: David Larson – 700,000 (18 bb)
Seat 3: Ping Liu – 3,330,000 (83 bb)
Seat 4: Rayo Kniep – 2,435,000 (61 bb)
Seat 5: D.J. Alexander – 1,425,000 (35 bb)
Seat 6: Ian Steinman – 2,480,000 (62 bb)
Larson catches some early heat
The short stack when the final table started, Larson worked hard to get himself out of the danger zone. In the second hand of the final table, Larson doubled up through Joe McKeehen. Larson was all-in with pocket queens against the ace-jack of hearts of McKeehen.
In Hand 43, Larson eliminated D.J. Alexander. With only 12 big blinds, Alexander shoved with king-nine of diamonds and ran into the pocket tens of Larson. No help came and Alexander exited from his second final table of WPT Season XVI.
The hand heard around the world
Chips changed hands for the middle portion of the final table with McKeehen accumulating most of them. McKeehen had a chance to take permanent control with five players left until Ian Steinman made one of the best folds in poker history.
With the blinds at 30,000/60,000, Steinman raised to 160,000 in the small blind with pocket kings and McKeehen called out of the big blind with queen-ten offsuit.
A flop of ace-seven-five with two hearts led Steinman to bet 150,000. McKeehen called and Steinman conceded the betting lead on the jack of clubs turn. McKeehen put in 370,000 and Steinman called to the king of clubs river.
Steinman bet 800,000 and McKeehen moved all-in to put most of Steinman’s stack at risk. After four minutes, Steinman folded his set of kings to McKeehen’s straight and kept himself alive.
Stalemate finally ends
Five-handed play lasted for three and a half hours before Rayo Kniep exited in fifth place. The San Francisco amateur hit the rail in Hand #104. McKeehen opened to 200,000 under the gun and Kniep called in the small blind with two kings. Steinman put in chips from the big blind with ten-eight offsuit.
The jack-ten-five flop checked around and Steinman bet 255,000 when another ten fell on the turn. Kniep pushed all-in for 1,100,000 and Steinman called with his trips. No help came for Kniep on the river and he departed with $69,650.
Start of final table chip leader Ping Liu was the next to go. Five hands after the departure of Kniep, Liu busted to Steinman. Liu moved all-in with queen-ten offsuit on the button for 14 big blinds and Steinman woke up with ace-queen in the small blind. Nothing materialized for Liu and he moved off the final table stage.
McKeehen falls hard
The 2015 WSOP Main Event champion had his best chance to win a World Poker Tour title but the deck failed to cooperate down the stretch. McKeehen lost a few showdowns during three-handed play and doubled up Larson before being felted by him.
In a blind-on-blind encounter, McKeehen shoved for 11 big blinds effective with queen-seven and Larson had the fortune of being dealt ace-king. The board gave Larson what he needed to hold on and double. McKeehen terminated a dozen hands later.
On the button, McKeehen opened to 250,000 with queen-nine of clubs and Larson came in from the small blind holding ace-seven of hearts. Larson bet the jack-five-four two heart flop for 400,000 and McKeehen went all-in for 1,320,000. Larson called right away.
A king on the turn opened straight outs for McKeehen but a dud on the river sent him out in third place. McKeehen improved on his fourth-place finish from the Borgata Winter Poker Open.
Larson takes heads up
Steinman opened heads up play with an edge on Larson but the man from San Jose, CA flipped the tide quick. In only five hands, Larson took the lead.
Larson ended things on the 171st hand of final table play. Larson opened to 375,000 on the button with ace-six offsuit and Steinman made it 1,100,000 on the button with pocket kings. In position, Larson called and the ace-jack-six flop gave him two pair. Steinman check-called for 400,000 and the ace turn was checked by both.
Steinman bet 500,000 on the queen of spades river and Larson raised all-in for one million more. The kings of Steinman were good enough to call but he saw the bad news when Larson turned over his full house. The Northern California local finishes with his best career score in a second-place effort.
Final table results
1st Place: David Larson – $295,128
2nd Place: Ian Steinman – $201,428
3rd Place: Joe McKeehen – $131,081
4th Place: Ping Liu – $97,510
5th Place: Rayo Kniep – $69,650
6th Place: D.J. Alexander – $56,417
WPT takes a breather
WPT Rolling Thunder is the end of a recent busy stretch for the tour. The next North American Main Tour stop takes place starting on April 13 in Hollywood, FL with the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
Lead image c/o WPT/Flickr