Mike Del Vecchio is the champion of the 2017 WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California.
He won $284,638 and earned his way into the exclusive World Poker Tour Champions Club. Additionally, the winner will have a seat in the season-ending Tournament of Champions next month.
Del Vecchio, unlike a few of the players at the final table, had never in his career pulled off a score this massive.
His biggest tournament win came in 2012 for 1st place in the Grand Tournament Challenge Series Main Event in Las Vegas.
That paid $51,377. He’s been playing poker for more than a decade, so his win on Wednesday was, understandably, special.
“I’m just so overcome, ten years of blood, sweat, and tears. I always dreamed of something like this,” the champion said after the final hand.
And what a sick final hand it was. Del Vecchio moved all-in on the turn with trips and was insta-called by Sorel Mizzi with a gut shot straight flush draw. The river was a blank.
A Pathological Cheater?
Mizzi, a Canadian pro, added $190,105 to his career tournament earnings that exceed $11 million. There were most definitely some poker players who breathed a sigh of relief when he lost heads-up. Sorel has been accused of cheating at online poker games on multiple occasions.
Mizzi’s alleged cheating scandals date back to 2010. He’s been banned from PokerStars multiple times. And he’s been outed publicly on internet forums and social media for various wrongdoings including multi-accounting.
But he didn’t cheat his way to 2nd place at Thunder Valley. Heads-up play lasted 25 hands. Del Vecchio had a slight advantage when the final two squared off. Soon after, Mizzi evened things up but never grabbed the chip lead.
Star Power at the Final Table
Wednesday’s final table had as much star power as any WPT event in recent history. Mizzi was joined by Olivier Busquet (5th place) and Connor Drinan (6th place).
Busquet was the only previous WPT champion at the final table. He entered Wednesday’s play with the smallest stack and was never able to build up any traction. He was eliminated on the 76th hand of the day by 3rd place finisher Steve Tabb. Drinan’s day was cut short on the 27th hand when his straight draw couldn’t catch up to Olivier’s rivered full house.
John Hadley, a 57-year old California resident who had never before cashed in a WPT event, considered this the greatest performance of his poker career.
After three consecutive events in the Golden State, the World Poker Tour will travel across the country to Southern Florida for the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown beginning March 31. That is the final stop on the Season 15 schedule before the invite-only Tournament of Champions.