The final table of the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder stop was not hurting for storylines before play began on Tuesday afternoon.
Defending champion Erkut Yilmaz had a shot at going back-to-back. Jake Schwartz had another shot at his first WPT title at his sixth final table. Robert Heidorn, who bubbled the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table, was hoping for a small piece of redemption. Tony Tran was hoping to win his second WPT title in just over 18 months.
One of those came true, but it came with a twist that M. Night Shyamalan would have been proud of.
When Tran won his first WPT title at the bestbet Bounty Scramble in October 2018, he finished it off by beating Schwartz heads-up. Tuesday night he got heads-up with Schwartz again and once again he beat him. It was the first time in WPT history that the final two players in an event had already battled heads-up in another tournament.
Tran started the final table with the shortest stack, but Shankar Pillai was right there with him. Neither player was able to gain much traction until the two players clashed in an all-in preflop pot. Tran opened from the hijack to 65,000 and Yilmaz called from the cutoff. Down to just 19 big blinds, Pillai moved all-in for 565,000 before Tran moved all-in for 655,000 forcing Yilmaz to fold. Pillai turned over which put him well behind Tran’s . The board ran out to send Pillai out in sixth place and nearly double Tran’s stack.
Tran continued to build and doubled through Yilmaz. Another 19 hands after that, Tran sent the defending champion to the rail. Action folded to Tran in the small blind and he moved all in with before Yilmaz called off his last nine big blinds with . The board ran out to give Tran a pair of sevens to eliminate Yilmaz in fifth.
Four-handed play continued for 51 hands without an elimination before Tran found yet another victim. Kevin Rabichow moved all-in from the button for 1,175,000 and Tran called from the big blind. Rabichow showed before Tran turned over . The flop cut Rabichow’s chances down even further. The turn gave him an extra out but the river finished him off for good in fourth.
Just a few moments later, Tran once again ended another player’s run. Heirdon moved all-in for 1,625,000 and Tran called from the big blind. Heirdon showed but was behind Tran’s . Heirdon found no help through the runout and was eliminated in third.
Thanks to his work eliminating the other four opponentns, Tran began heads-up play with a nearly 4-1 chip lead over Schwartz. It took 30 hands for Tran to finish Schwartz off to win his second WPT title. On the final hand, Tran raised to 250,000 before Schwartz moved all-in for 1,350,000 and Tran called. Schwartz showed but found himself dominated by Tran’s . Tran made gin on the flop and Schwartz was unable to catch any of the three remaining queens to stay alive and was eliminated, giving Tran another WPT title and $279,270 including a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions in late May.
WPT Rolling Thunder Final Table Payouts
- Tony Tran – $279,270
- Jake Schwartz – $177,680
- Robert Heidorn – $122,105
- Kevin Rabichow – $85,800
- Erkut Yilmaz – $61,685
- Shankar Pillai – $45,390