California - Thunder Valley Casino & Resort

Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Lincoln, CA
January 14 - 26, 2015
Total Prize Pool: $693,945
Congratulations to Nick Shkolnik for winning $159,599
and the HPT Championship Package!

Click HERE to see results from prelim events

California - Thunder Valley Casino & Resort Quick Summary

Please check out the full event write up below.

California - Thunder Valley Casino & Resort Top 9

First Place

Nick Shkolnik
Van Nuys, CA

Second Place

Hop Lay
Galt, CA

Third Place

Tom West
Los Altos, CA

Fourth Place

James Colson
Williams, CA

Fifth Place

Michael Hinde
Scotts Valley, CA

Sixth Place

Michael Riddle
Elk Grove, CA

Seventh Place

Mark Violetti
Red Bluff, CA

Eighth Place

Brett Murray
Santa Rosa, CA

Ninth Place

Jared Griener
Santa Ana, CA


California - Thunder Valley Casino & Resort Top 54 Finishers

1. Nick Shkolnik $159,599
2. Hop Lay $97,569
3. Tom West $64,676
4. James Colson $44,968
5. Michael Hinde $33,656
6. Michael Riddle $26,023
7. Mark Violetti $21,165
8. Brett Murray $17,349
9. Jared Griener $13,879
10. Gina Stagnitto $11,242
11. Erik Werner $11,242
12. Scott Ball $11,242
13. Jose Merino $8,397
14. James Hays $8,397
15. Dan Alspach $8,397
16. Taylor Tu $6,454
17. Thomas Tran $6,454
18. Loc Huang $6,454
19. Patricia Kniespeck $4,927
20. Stella Su $4,927
21. Craig Carrillo $4,927
22. Daniel Frumkin $4,927
23. Stephen Bai $4,927
24. Adam Nakonieczny $4,927
25. Mike Malkin $4,927
26. Sam Cruz $4,927
27. Brian Park $4,025
28. Francis Nguyen $4,025
29. Dangkhoa Doan $4,025
30. Daniel Evans $4,025
31. Angelo Kratsas $4,025
32. Craig Casino $4,025
33. Don Deeds $4,025
34. Ryan Matsuura $4,025
35. David Forrestal $4,025
36. Eddie Barna $4,025
37. Glenn Miller $3,262
38. Craig Gold $3,262
39. Sam Nim $3,262
40. Mike Ruter $3,262
41. Makara Nuon $3,262
42. Ron Larsen $3,262
43. Dale Fink $3,262
44. Lee Tabidze $3,262
45. Thanh Nguyen $3,262
46. Albert Sanchez $2,984
47. Kao Saechao $2,984
48. Thien Tran $2,984
49. William Frieson $2,984
50. Neil Blumenfield $2,984
51. Chung Ho $2,984
52. Cash Carpenter $2,984
53. Tri Huynh $2,984
54. Mike Jacob $2,984

California - Thunder Valley Casino & Resort Recap

Nick Shkolnik Wins HPT at Thunder Valley 

By Paul Oresteen

Nick Shkolnik matched his career earnings with his win at the Heartland Poker Tour’s Thunder Valley Main Event outside Sacramento. Shkolnik notched four of the final table’s eight eliminations en route to earning $159,599.

“I was telling my friends I was going to win this and they didn’t believe me,” Shkolnik said. “It means a lot to win a big event, I’ve been working very hard and it finally paid off. In the beginning I was very card dead but then it worked itself out.”

Shkolnik began the final table with the chip lead Michael Riddle as the only player over 2 million chips. Mark Violetti, Tom West, Brett Murray and Hop (Ricky) Lay were grouped closely together and Micheal Hinde, James Colson and Jared Griener rounding out the table.

Griener was the first casualty of the final table. He open-shoved holding pocket sixes and Kay called with A K. The board ran A J 7 4 T and Griener’s final table run was a short one.

A bit later Murray was the short stack and he moved in preflop with pocket eights and Shkolnik called with A K. An ace hit on the flop, Murray never improved and he was eliminated in eighth place.

From the small blind Shkolnik set Violetti all in – and he called holding A 2. Shkolnik flipped over J 5 but spiked top pair on the flop of J T 3. Violettie never improved and was sent to the rail.

An hour later Kay opened the action and Riddle moved all in holding pocket deuces. Kay held AQ and hit the flop when the board ran Q 4 3 K 6. Riddle’s deuces were no good and he was sent home in sixth place.

Five-handed play stretched over three levels and Hinde was grinding a sub-ten big blind stack. He made a stand with J T, Shkolnik called with A 6, Hinde never improved and was eliminated.

Ten minutes after that Shkolnik opened, Colson three-bet from the big blind and Shkolnik moved all in. Colson called with A 9, Shkolnik was out-kicked holding A 8. The board ran 8 7 3 J 2 and Colson’s day was done.

Three-handed play didn’t last long – just several hands. West open-shipped on the button and Kay called from the small blind. West tabled pocket threes and Kay held two over cards with A J. The flop brought a jack, West didn’t improve and was eliminated short of the title.

Heads up play began with Shkolnik and Kay virtually tied – 7.335 million to 7.015 million respectively. Kay drew first blood with the first big pot of heads up but then Shkolnik won a 3 million chip pot on a board of T 8 2 K Q with a large river bet to pull out in front.

The final hand saw Lay ship with pocket sevens and Shkolnik snap-called with pocket eights. The board ran K Q 5 4 K, Lay didn’t improve and Shkolnik won the tournament and his first HPT title.


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