tony dunst wpt poker

On Tuesday, the first Main Tour champion of the 2023 World Poker Tour (WPT) season will be crowned at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Northern California, and it could be WPT announcer Tony Dunst, who bagged a big stack at the conclusion of Day 3 on Monday.

Only six of the original 590 entrants at $3,500 buy-in WPT Rolling Thunder — most in the tournament’s history — still have a shot at the $361,660 first-place prize. Alejandro Jauregui, a 2021 Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) champion, holds the chip lead in his first ever WPT cash.

Day 3, which began with 44 players, saw some heavy hitters finish in the money but fall short of the final table. That list included Jesse Lonis (43rd for $8,350), Bryan Piccioli (39th for $9,470), Dan O’Brien (30th for $10,900), and David “ODB” Baker (14th for $22,080).

in March 2014, the WPT Rolling Thunder had an impressive 465 entrants. J.C. Tran, a long-time World Poker Tour crusher, won it for $302,750. Until this week, that was one of the largest payouts for a champion in the event and also the biggest field.

Demand was up this month as the WPT’s Main Tour hadn’t been up to Northern California’s most popular poker room since 2018 when the field size was at 280 entrants.

Down to the Final Table

jeremy joseph poker wpt
Jeremy Joseph

Each of the six remaining players has a guaranteed minimum payday of $73,400. But of course they’re all more focused on the top prize of $361,660 and joining the exclusive WPT Champions Club.

When Sabir Rasulov busted in 10th place ($34,400), the tournament condensed down to just one table. Philip Shing would then go out in ninth place ($34,400), and was followed by Ankit Ahuja in eighth place ($43,800). Everyone left was then waiting for one more player to bust so they all could claim to have reached a WPT final table.

Dunst, who co-hosts WPT events on Bally Sports with Vince Van Patten, spun up a small stack late in the session. A big chunk of his current stack was earned late in the day when he picked up pocket kings and found a double against the pocket queens of Jeremy Joseph. The 6,400,000-chip pot changed the complexion of the tournament.

Moments later Dunst would flop top pair and spin it up to over 7 million chips with the blinds at 50,000/100,000. Dann Turner, who was down to just 13 big blinds, moved all in on the next hand with {k-Hearts}{10-Hearts} but was behind the {a-Spades}{j-Diamonds} of Alejandro Jauregui. The board ran out {q-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{4-Spades}{10-Diamonds}{j-Clubs} to send Turner home on the final table bubble in seventh place ($56,400).

Losing the cooler to Dunst, the only past WPT champion left, was costly to Joseph. But although he’s in last place (2,050,000), he still has 20 big blinds to work with. No one at the final table will begin play on Day 4 with crumbs. Jauregui leads the way with 10,450,000 and is the only player to crack the eight-figure mark and have 100-plus big blinds.

Dunst finds himself in second place (7,125,000), followed by Albert Tapia (4,500,000), Victor Paredes (3,125,000), Scott Eskenazi (2,125,000), and then Joseph. Except for Dunst, who had a $700,000 score in 2016, none of the players at the final table has cashed for more than the $361,000 first place prize in a live poker tournament.

The live-streamed final table begins at noon PT on Tuesday and the session won’t conclude until a champion is crowned. After that occurs, the World Poker Tour will then begin preparing for its next stop — April 28 in South Florida — the $3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

View the Full 2023 First Half WPT Schedule

WPT Rolling Thunder Final Table Chip Counts

Place Player Stack
1 Alejandro Jauregui 10,450,000
2 Tony Dunst 7,125,000
3 Albert Tapia 4,500,000
4 Victor Paredes 3,125,000
5 Scott Eskanazi 2,150,000
6 Jeremy Joseph 2,050,000

*Blinds will resume at 50,000/100,000 (100,000 big blind ante).

*Images courtesy of WPT/Joe Giron.

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Tony Dunst Among Chip Leaders at Final Table in Record-Setting WPT Rolling Thunder