World Poker Tour Northbound for $3,500 Rolling Thunder Event

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WPT Champion Mike Del Vecchio bested a field of 421 in Season XV at Rolling Thunder. (WPT photo/Joe Giron)

The World Poker Tour stays on the West Coast after the L.A. Poker Classic and travels north for WPT Rolling Thunder. Season XVI marks the fifth trip for the WPT to the Lincoln, CA outpost for a $3,500 buy-in event. From March 2-6, there is fierce poker competition to be had as one of the final WPT titles of the season is on the line.

Building on 2017 Success

Mike Del Vecchio battled through a field of 421 to claim his first WPT title in Season XV. The players who Del Vecchio defeated at the final table include Connor Drinan and Olivier Busquet. Del Vecchio joined an elite group of WPT Rolling Thunder winners led by J.C. Tran and Harrison Gimbel.

Tran took down 465 entrants to win his title in Season XII and Season XV’s field was the largest since that time.

Riding the LAPC Momentum

From the time it was added to the WPT calendar, Rolling Thunder follows Bay 101 Shooting Star Classic on the schedule. That is no more for at least this year with the hiatus of Bay 101 for at least Season XVI.

The L.A. Poker Classic wraps up on March 1 and the WPT train rides immediately for Rolling Thunder the next day. Expect to see dozens who played LAPC to catch a flight and make their way to Thunder Valley for the last California WPT event of the season. The LAPC field size should carry an indication of how many and who will play at Thunder Valley.

Player of the Year Battle Builds

Art Papazyan is 700 points in front of Eric Afriat for current Season XVI Player of the Year honors but that lead is on the fringe of changing. Afriat won the WPT Winter Poker Open at Borgata in January in his second final table appearance of the season. With one more WPT final table appearance this season, Afriat can tie or surpass Papazyan’s 2,400 points.

The Quebec business professional is uncertain of his upcoming WPT schedule but the opportunity to win the exclusive prize may bring him out to the West Coast.

New Room to Show Off

Thunder Valley recently opened their brand new poker room and the glamour element should add to what is already an event with high expectations. Locals are flocking in large numbers to play satellite qualifiers, leading to more buzz for an already prestigious event. The new room features an open playing space and nearby access to all the amenities Thunder Valley is known for.

Unique Format Features Six Max Action

The WPT Rolling Thunder adds the shorthanded element of poker deep in their event. Once the field reaches 36 players, the field condenses to six tables of six players each. It is at this stage where the tournament switches over to 90-minute levels until the final table.

Bay 101 is famous for this structure pivot and Rolling Thunder recently added it to their WPT showcase. Expect to see some fun hands and memorable moments that compare to Charlie Carrel’s elimination in a hand where Pat Lyons moved all-in blind.

Where to Watch

The final table streams live on WPT.com on March 6 starting at 12:30 pm PT. The six-figures in prize money, the prestige of winning a WPT, and predicted tough final table leads to what will be an exciting conclusion to what has become one of the most enjoyable stops on the WPT circuit.