Rep Porter, a long-established and highly respected poker pro from Woodinville, Washington won the latest “Poker Night: The Final Table” tournament series, which was held at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Porter collected $88,705 in prize money, which was something of a bonus since Porter’s primary intent in coming to the Greater Sacramento area to play was to appear in the high-stakes “Poker Night in America” cash game, which took place over the previous weekend.  Porter decided to enter the No-Limit Hold’em tournament during the second of two starting sessions.  A few days later, he was raking in the final pot of the tournament and collecting his biggest cash win in the last 18 months.

Porter, 44, already has numerous tournament titles to his name, including two World Series of Poker gold bracelets and multiple deep runs in championship events on the World Poker Tour.  He’s also won several regional events that were played in the Pacific Northwest.  Aside from playing for a living full-time, Porter is also heavily involved as a writer and instructor at a training website called ThePokerAcademy.com.  He also writes regularly for Card Player magazine.

“For me, it’s all about the cash,” Porter said afterward.  “Sure, I always want to win anytime I play, but the cash is the main thing for me.  Still — it’s nice to get win title like this because it helps to get your name out there in the public and we’re really pushing the video component at ThePokerAcademy.com, so this win should help with that.”

Porter topped a nice field size of 276 players.  Each entrant paid a $1,650 entry fee to compete in the four-day competition which ran Jan. 30 through Feb. 2.  The prize pool totaled $401,580.  The top 36 finishers collected prize money.

The runner up spot went to Duke Lee, from San Francisco, who also put on an impressive performance.  He arrived at the final table as chip leader, but couldn’t overcome Porter’s surge during the later stages of the tournament.  Dan Ross, who was covering the action hand-for-hand as part of Thunder Valley’s website coverage estimated that Porter won about 80 percent of the hands that were played heads-up against Lee.  “When that happens, there’s really nothing you can do,” Ross said.  “Rep was unstoppable today.”

Lee agreed with the assessment.  “Well, if I’m going to lose like that and run cold, I’m glad it was against someone like Rep (Porter),” Lee said.  “At least I know if I’m going to go card dead, it was against a strong player.”

The final hand took place after about an hour of heads-up play.  Porter’s A-9 ended up busting Lee, who held K-2, to a final board that read:  Q-J-4-10-3.  Porter’s ace-high was good enough to scoop the last pot of the tourney.

As consolation prize, Lee collected a nice sum amounting to $6,225.  Given the circumstances of what occurred the previous day, Lee has to take some satisfaction, even though he didn’t win.  With 15 players left and just prior to the dinner break, Lee was down to just a few blinds.  He seemed destined for a quick exit.  However, after the break, Lee roared back into contention and actually seized the chip lead when play got down to just five players.  He continued to do well, but couldn’t overcome Porter in the final hour.

As for Porter, he’s now appeared on PNiA multiple occasions.  He’s one of select few who has thoroughly mastered both cash games and tournaments, with just as much to show for success in both arenas.  Porter’s two WSOP wins took place in 2008 and 2011, respectively.  He also finished 13th in the 2013 WSOP Main Event Championship, which earned him his biggest cash win, in excess of $500,000.

The final table played at Thunder Valley was also unique for at least one additional reason.  Given the controversy in tournament poker regarding so-called “tanking” and inordinate delays in many high-profile events, there have been increasing cries for some kind of device to speed up play.  A shot clock, like is used in basketball has been floating around for some time.  Thunder Valley’s management, led by Ben Erwin decided to implement the shot clock procedure in this event, which seemed to work out quite well.  There were no issues to speak of, and play did seep to play at a brisk pace.  Only once during the entire final table was the 60-second countdown employed in full, during which the player decided to call at the last minute and ended up winning the pot.  Players were also given two special “time out” cards which could be used in order to request a bit more additional time for tough decisions.  As for seeing the clock, it was displayed on one of the screens near table side and never appeared to be a distraction.  The system used at Thunder Valley did prove that such a rule can be effective in helping to speed up play.

The final standings from Thunder Valley’s Poker Championship were as follows:






Rep Porter

Woodinville, WA



Duke Lee

San Francisco, CA



Robert Pacleb

Vallejo, CA



Kathy Stahl

manteca, CA



Phuoc Nguyen

San Jose, CA



Mario Lopez

Cloverdale, CA



Chuck Nguyen

San Lorenzo, CA



Gina Stagnitto

Brentwood, CA



Theresa Cummings

Nevada City, CA



Mike Harvey

San Francisco, CA



Tom West

Mountain View, CA



James Ohlweiler

San Francisco, CA



Joseph Christman

Pacifica, CA



Taylor Paur

San Diego, CA



Jae Pak

El Dorado Hills, CA



Paul McCaffrey

San Ramon, CA



Richard Troendley

Napa, CA



Daniel McGee

Sacramento, CA



Ray Henson

Spring, TX



Greg Pincombe

Redwood, City, CA



Steve Kujubu

Sacramento, CA



William Chao

El Sobrante, CA



Chris Le

San Leandro, CA



Sinh Nguyen

RIpon, CA



Mark Kroon

Madison, WI



Dalton Still

Rocklin, CA



Lucas Fridriksson

Forestville, CA



James Thomason

Las Vegas, NV



Hop Lay

Galt, CA



Lorrie Colvin

San Francisco, CA



Jaime Ronas

San Leandro, CA



Paul Lantz

San Francisco, CA



Douglas Lorgeree

Chicago, IL



Kao Vang

Pleasant Grove, CA



Henry Kim

Lafayette, CA



Andrew Barber

Santa Cruz, CA


Read more about Thunder Valley and the poker scene at the official site and blog, which can be found HERE.

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