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

Denis Lee, winner of the WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event in 2024
Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: January 22, 2024 23:40 PST

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

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

WSOPC Thunder Valley final table results

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

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