A few days ago Scott Eskenazi joined the World Poker Tour Champions Club by winning the 2023 WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event and earning the biggest prize of his career: $361,660.
2023 WPT Rolling Thunder Recap
The festival’s $3,500 buy-in main event was played from April 1-4 at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln City, California, and attracted 590 entries. It thus became the largest edition of this tournament, surpassing the 465 entries from back in 2014. Just like last year, the World Poker Tour continues to break records, and is at the forefront of the current live poker boom.
The prize pool for the main event totaled $1,888,000 and was distributed among the top 74 players. Among them were notable names such as Allen Kessler (73rd), Angela Jordison (67th), Steven Buckner (65th), Eric Afriat (60th), Giuseppe Pantaleo (51st), Aaron Mermelstein (48th), Matas Cimbolas (35th), David Baker (14th) and James Turner (11th).
The big name at the final table was the World Poker Tour’s own Tony Dunst, who was looking to add to his already stellar career resume. Alas, it was not be due to a tough board runout that benefitted the tournament’s eventual winner. Scott Eskenazi started the final table with the second smallest stack among the final 6, but began winning smaller pots and grew in chip count. Hands later, he eliminated Dunst in sixth place after hitting a flopped straight. You can watch the hand here:
In this hand, Tony faces the absolute worst possible river card against Scott Eskenazi — can he make the… pic.twitter.com/Pnqq6xPJbf
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) April 4, 2023
With only 4 players left Scott became the new chip-leader and then eliminated Alberto Tapia when his 9-9 beat Tapia’s A-K. He held the lead until Jeremy Joseph eliminated Alejandro Jauregui in third place.
The heads-up began with these stacks: 11.1M for Scott and 18.2M for Jeremy. Scott won several pots and went on to lead the count. The tournament came to an end when Jeremy went all-in with A-2s and Scott paid with a better hand: A-Ks. The board brought no surprises and Scott Eskenazi became the 2023 WPT Rolling Thunder champion.
Here are the full final table results:
- Scott Eskenazi 🇺🇸 – $361,660 + WPT World Championship entry + 🏆
- Jeremy Joseph 🇺🇸 – $234,000
- Alejandro Jauregui Reynoso 🇺🇸 – $172,000
- Alberto Tapia 🇺🇸 – $128,000
- Victor Paredes 🇺🇸 – $97,000
- Tony Dunst 🇺🇸 – $73,400
Congratulations to Scott Eskenazi our new #WPTRollingThunder Champion! 🌩️🏆
After navigating the 590 entry field @TVPokerRoom, Eskenazi showed up as one of the short stacks going into the Final Table before battling Jeremy Joseph heads-up to take home the title, $361,660 and the… pic.twitter.com/94Px20434l
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) April 5, 2023
2023 WPT Rolling Thunder Champion Scott Eskenazi Speaks
We got in touch with the brand new champion and asked him what it felt like to win his first WPT title at his first final table on the circuit: “It feels great but still a little surreal. It’s a poker dream come true.”
When we asked with whom Scott celebrated his the victory, he said “I was very lucky that my wife was there railing me. She’s my biggest fan and my soulmate. We didn’t get to celebrate that night but we’ve been celebrating ever since – we actually had to rush to the airport right after the tourney as we were hosting a big family dinner the next night. I’ve gotten so many congratulatory calls and texts from friends and family which means so much to me.”
What does it mean for Scott to join the WPT Champions Club and have his name on the Mike Sexton Trophy? “It’s humbling. My last dinner at a restaurant before COVID was a group dinner where I met and sat next to Mike Sexton. He was telling these great poker stories and it was such an honor to meet him. He was a wonderful ambassador for poker.”
In addition to Scott’s best result, he also won an entry to the 2023 WPT World Championship at Wynn, Las Vegas. Naturally, he hopes to parlay this success to even bigger success at that event later in the year.
Scott has been collecting cashes on the live circuit for 15 years, with his first result being a win in a Las Vegas event. While he doesn’t remember too much from that specific event, Scott remembers that “after winning it, I was definitely hooked.”
We asked Scott what he enjoys most about playing World Poker Tour tournaments in particular and he responded that he “loves the competitiveness. I’m also a numbers guy so poker allows me to use my math skills.”
Beyond hopefully winning the 2023 WPT World Championship, Scott told us that he also has ambitions to “win a WSOP bracelet and to have fun doing it.”