Brett Murray Triumphs at 2018 WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event

Brett Murray Triumphs at 2018 WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event

Season 15 of the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) kicked-off in August at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina followed by Foxwoods in Connecticut. From September 6-17, the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in California then played host to the tour, with its 12 event schedule climaxing in a $1,700 buy-in Main Event.

A total of 464 players took part in the tournament, in the process creating a prize pool worth $202,960 in excess of its $500,000 guarantee. Four days later, and it was local man Brett Murray who would eventually triumph over his competitors, including Viet Tran heads-up, to claim a coveted gold ring, and a first place prize of $151,145. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Murray, though, and he had to fire four bullets before seeing his fortune turnaround.

“It felt amazing. I was on my fourth bullet with eight bigs and was feeling pretty shitty. But I went on a sick heater and started running good throughout the whole tournament,” explained the champion.

$1,700 Main Event

The 2018 WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event featured 54 money positions. Amongst the recognizable pros seeing a return on their buy-ins was Allen Kessler in 50th ($2,669), Ian Steinman in 45th ($2,945), JC Tran in 31st ($3,634), Amir Lehavot in 24th ($5,469), and Dylan Wilkerson in 12th ($11,311). As the final table approached, Brett Murray spotted a strategic opportunity and decided to take advantage of his remaining opponents’ worries about finishing on the bubble, and as he later explained:

“I just thought that they would all be wanting to get into the top nine and nobody would want to get tenth. I’ve played with most of them before and I knew that they would all be playing pretty tight and kind of let me abuse them unless they have a good hand.”

Murray’s aggressive strategy paid off nicely, too, and after reaching the final table in pole position, he eliminated three players on his way to facing Viet Tran heads-up.


Murray started the final battle holding a slight chip lead over Viet Tran, which he maintained by the time the final hand arose. Having been dealt Ks-Kd, Murray led out on a Js-8h-3s flop, only for Tran (10h-7h) to move all-in with a gutshot straight and backdoor flush draw. Making the call, a 5s and Qs fell on the turn and river to make Murray a flush and secure him the win, while Tran took home $93,444 for his strong performance in the tournament.

Murray collected $151,145 for his victory, and in the process bested his previous biggest score of $135,980 recorded after finishing runner-up at this year’s California State Poker Championship Main Event. As a result, Murray has now amassed $1,032,864 in lifetime earnings since 2011, of which $465,221 has been won in 2018 alone.

Final Table Payouts

1: Brett Murray $151,145
2: Viet Tran $93,444
3: Adam Duong $68,264
4: Paul Richardson $50,606
5: Stuart Tuvey $38,058
6: Eyyal Altar $29,032
7: Marlon Nonales $22,460
8: Jason Mayer $17,623
9: Tommy Chen $14,024

Global Casino Championship

The WSOP Circuit awards two Global Casino Championship tickets at each stop, providing its Main Event winner and Casino Champion a passage through to next year’s exclusive, invitation-only tournament which features minimum prize pool of $1 million. The Casino Champion honor is given to the player who amasses the most points during each of the WSOP Circuit’s 12 official ring event stops, and at the WSOP Circuit Thunder Valley that title belonged to female player Manju Gera who collected a total of 80 points from three cashes.

Gera started off by taking down Event #4: $400 H.O.R.S.E. for $8,303, before booking a 10th place finish in Event #5: $400 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better for $819, and a 7th place finish in Event #8: $400 Pot-Limit Omaha for $1,232. Interestingly, Manju Gera is the mother of Nikhil Gera, a Californian poker pro with $1,170,434 in live winnings and two WSOP Circuit gold rings to his name. This includes in 2016 taking down the WSOP Circuit Los Angeles for $246,295, which still represents his best score to date.

Next WSOPC Stop

Next stop on the WSOP Circuit is the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in Florida from September 13-24, after which the first-ever Online Circuit event will take place from September 18-30. Players physically located in Nevada and New Jersey will be able to participate in the series via the poker site

The live tour will subsequently roll into Horseshoe Southern Indiana from September 27 to October 8, followed by Horseshoe Hammond in the Chicago area from October 11-22, and then Harveys Lake Tahoe in Nevada from October 25 until November 5th.