Thunder Valley obliterates their record for a WPT event

WPT Mike Sexton Champions Cup at Thunder Valley Casino
Terrance Reid
Posted on: April 02, 2023 08:30 PDT

The room still booms at Thunder Valley Casino Resort as late registration wraps at the end of level 10 of the WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event. The tables are still full throughout the massive poker room. Their previous record turnout for a WPT event was 465 entries back in 2014 at this same event. It was clear early on that a new record would be made this year.

After registration close, the final tally came to 588 runners, building a massive prize pool of $1,888,000. That also marks the largest prize pool the Thunder Valley Poker Room has ever seen. Surpassing the previous Rolling Thunder event record by 125 entries is just another piece of evidence that poker is booming at thunderous levels. First place will go home with $361,660* and a spot on the coveted Mike Sexton trophy.

*Includes $10,400 WPT World Championship entry

WPT "Rolling Thunder" history

The event name "Rolling Thunder" is used exclusively here at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Northern California. The inaugural event was held in 2014, and none other than JC Tran took home $302,750 that year for his victory. Nine years later, Tran is here in the field again, along with the other 223 that still currently remain.


WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event through the years

Year Winner Buy-in Entries Total prize pool First place (In USD)
2014 JC Tran $3,500 465 $1,480,000 $302,750
2016 Harrison Gimble $3,500 409 $1,308,800 $275,112
2017 Mike Del Veccio $3,500 421 $1,347,200 $284,638
2018 David Larson $3,500 440 $1,408,000 $295,128
2019 Erkut Yilmaz $5,000 280 $1,302,000 $303,920
2020 Tony Tran $5,000 250 $1,162,500 $279,270
2023 TBD $3,500 590 $1,888,000* $361,660*

This year marks the largest field and prize pool by a large margin. Players showed up in droves to support the season opener of the WPT season XXI Main Tour.

WPT Rolling Thunder Season 2017-2018 Joe Giron/

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there's thunder, there's lightning. This year, where there's a WPT Rolling Thunder, there's a record-breaking field and a massive prize pool. If this season opener is any indication, it's going to be a great year to be a poker player.

Players will play 10 total levels today. Tomorrow, players will play down to the final table. Finally, Tuesday players will play to a winner on a live stream for the world to watch. Until then, the Thunder Rolls.

Feature photo credit: WPT/Joe Giron