Denis Lee fights back from short stack to win WSOPC Thunder Valley ME

Adam Hampton
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Posted on: January 23, 2024 8:40 am EST

Coming into the third and final day of the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) Thunder Valley Main Event, California’s Denis Lee found himself at the bottom of the chip counts with just seven big blinds. But it would prove to be enough.

12th of 12 players remaining, Lee found a quick double-up to steady the ship, then another against chip leader Dann Turner. Just one hour later he was sitting at the final table, fourth in chips.

The comeback king

Lee has form on the WSOP Circuit, having won a ring at the Lake Tahoe event in 2023, and was unphased as the tournament approached the sharp end.

After Hung Vo went out in 10th ($15,770) and Lee enjoyed another double-up against Dann Turner, who eventually went out in ninth ($19,690), Lee found pocket kings and used them to eliminate Joey Spanne. Spanne was one of the more experience players at the table, but couldn’t improve his 9-9 and was eliminated in eighth for $24,880.

Soon afterwards Lee picked up A-A when Dan Sarasin jammed with K-K, and sent his fellow Californian to the rail in seventh place with $31,810.

Kaylen Lebaron then went to work, knocking out Adam Dunkle in sixth ($41,130) and Randy Gil in fifth ($53,800), before Vijay Ramani’s ace-high eliminated Mark Bekalu in fourth ($71,160). That left Lee as the short stack once again, but experience and a little luck helped him regain the lead.

First he called a big bluff from Ramani before the pair clashed once more, Lee’s A-K seeing off Ramani’s A-J and knocking the latter out in third for a career-best $95,140.

Vijay Ramani plays poker at the WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event
Vijay Ramani’s $95k for third was his best live cash

Lebaron fought back to close the gap, before getting counterfeited in what would be the final hand of the event.

Lee: J❤️7♦️

Lebaron: J♦️2♠

In an unraised pot, Lee check-called his two pair on the flop of Q❤️J♠7♠, before the 2♣ turn brought Lebaron false hope with his smaller two pair. Lee check-raised, Lebaron shoved and Lee called. The K♠ on the river was no help for Lebaron and the Main Event was done and dusted.

Lee’s $207k win more than doubles his total live earnings, as does the $127k Lebaron won for second, and once again goes to show that just a handful of blinds can be enough to win it all.

Kaylen Lebaron plays his way to 2nd in the WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event
Kaylen Lebaron: close but no cigar

WSOPC Thunder Valley final table results

1Denis Lee$207,020
2Kaylen Lebaron$127,720
3Vijay Ramani$95,140
4Mark Bekalu$71,160
5Randy Gil $53,800
6Adam Dunkle$41,130
7Dan Sarasin$31,810
8Joseph Spanne$24,880
9Dann Turner$19,690
10Hung Vo$15,770

WSOPC Thunder Valley is in the books, and we’ve loved bringing you all the action as it happened on our PokerOrg Instant channel – your first choice for content from live events from the WSOPC and more. We’ll see you at the next one!