The first Poker World Tour main stage of the tour of the season XXI it’s now officially in the books. A total of 590 entries revealed at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California for 2023 WPT Thunder rumble No-limit hold’em main event with a $3,500 buy-in. After four days of tournament action, Scott Eskenazi emerged victorious with his first WPT title and the grand prize of $361,660.
This was the highest finish in a live tournament thus far for Washington resident Mercer Island, surpassing the $233,600 he earned as a runner-up in 2022 Wynn Fall Classic main event. He now has more than $1.2 million in recorded tournament earnings, with two titles and 64 in-the-money cashes on his resume.
Eskenazi made it to the final table of this event essentially tied for the shortest stack among the six remaining contenders. He was only one big blind ahead of Jeremy Joseph at 21 big blinds, while Alejandro Jauregui had 105 big blinds to start the day.
Winner of two bracelets, WPT champion and long-standing WPT On-air personality Tony Dunst was the first to bust out at the final table. He doubled up Eskenazi on the third hand of the day and lost part of his stack. He then called all-in on the river with top pair, only to have Eskenazi see a wheel on the flop. Dunst earned $73,400 as the sixth-place finisher, boosting his career earnings to more than $4.9 million.
Victor Paredes (5th – $97,000) then lost a preflop coin flip with pocket tens he couldn’t hold on to Jauregui’s AJ, who flopped an ace and held from there to narrow it down to four.
Eskenazi overtook the lead in four-handed action, then extended his lead to win a race with pocket nines against Albert Tapia’s AK (4th – $128,000). Jauregui was next to be eliminated. He moved all-in on the turn with an open-ended straight draw against Joseph’s top pair. The river was a brick and Jauregui was eliminated in third place ($172,000).
That said, Joseph entered heads-up with 18,225,000 to Eskenazi’s 11,175,000. However, it only took a few hands for Eskenazi to take the lead, winning a big pot with sets in which he basically swapped positions. The two continued to battle for a while, with Eskenazi getting away a couple of times only for Joseph to fight back. In the final hand of the tournament, Eskenazi raised from the button to 1,500,000 with Ak and Joseph raised all-in from the big blind for 12,800,000 with A2. Eskenazi called and the board ran out to 97743earning Eskenazi the pot and the title.
Joseph received $234,000 as a runner-up, the third highest finish of his career. He now has nearly $2.3 million in tournament earnings to his name.
Here’s a look at payments and POY extension points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Earnings||POY extension Points|
Photo credits: World Poker Tour / Joe Giron.