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Erkut Yilmaz Claims Second WPT Title at Thunder Valley, Leads POY Race

Erkut Yilmaz won the 2019 WPT Thunder Valley Main Event in his hometown of Sacramento.

On Tuesday, Erkut Yilmaz clinched his second WPT title in his hometown of Sacramento, California, in front of his friends and family. The $303,920 win came in the same season as his first WPT victory — he took down the $3,500 WPT Borgata Poker Open last September.

The win over the 280-entry field also earned Yilmaz 1,000 points to put him first in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with 2,300 and brought his total live tournament winnings up over $1.8 million.

"I can’t believe it happened again, and so soon.”

“I feel like I’m in a dream right now, it feels great. I can’t believe it happened again, and so soon,” Yilmaz told WPT reporters. He was overjoyed to do so in his former stomping grounds.

“I only have friends in Sacramento," he said. "I’m so glad I got this title in Sacramento.”

WPT Thunder Valley Official Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize Money
1stErkut Yilmaz$303,920*
2ndJim Collopy$200,780
3rdAjay Chabra$130,345
4thDylan Linde$95,530
5thAnthony Zinno$68,860
6thJerry Robinson$50,720

*Includes $15,000 entry to Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions

Road to Final Table

Yilmaz started the penultimate day of play 15th of 40 remaining players, five of whom would leave empty-handed. Big names to fall short of the money on Day 3 were Byron Kaverman and Dan Heimiller, the latter exiting at the hands of Yilmaz after losing a flip.

Some notables eliminated in the money on Day 3 included Matt Affleck (35th - $9,305), Jeff Fielder (32nd - $9,305), Tyler Patterson (28th - $10,155), Upeshka De Silva (27th - $10,155), Pat Lyons (24th - $11,385), Jasthi Kumar (23rd - $11,385), Maxwell Young (18th - $13,100), Elio Fox (16th - $15,460), Casey McCarrel (15th - $15,460), Jake Schwartz (14th - $18,700), Steven Tabb (13th - $18,700) and Shankar Pillai (9th - $29,410).

A couple of more big names in the game battled for a final table bid but fell just short. Joseph Cheong got his remaining short stack in with pocket fours but ran into Ajay Chabra’s fives to fall in eighth place.

Down to the unofficial final table, Bryan Piccioli lost most of his stack paying off Jerry Robinson’s rivered flush, and the rest went to Yilmaz, who woke up with aces when Piccioli shoved a short stack with queen-ten. Piccioli had to settle for seventh and he and Cheong both earned $38,190 for their deep runs.

WPT Thunder Valley Final Table Action

Jim Collopy entered the final table of six with a massive chip lead, holding more than half of the chips in play. The first few eliminations would happen relatively quickly. On the 13th hand of play, Robinson’s aces were cracked by Chabra’s ace-three suited after the latter flopped the nut-flush draw and gutshot and went runner-runner for a different straight.

Next to go was three-time WPT champion Anthony Zinno, whose kings were no good after Collopy turned a flush holding seven-nine of diamonds and all the chips went in. Yilmaz then caught fire, doubling up twice before the red-hot Dylan Linde was sent to the rail by Collopy.

It happened when Linde shoved with queen-nine suited in the small blind and Collopy put him at risk with ace-three suited in the big blind. A nine on the flop gave Linde the lead, but an ace river meant the end of Linde’s bid for a second WPT title in just a few months as he took down the $10K Five Diamond World Poker Classic event for over $1.6 million back in December.

The 600 points Linde received for fourth brought him past Ping Liu in the POY race, and he now sits 300 points behind Yilmaz with 2,000.

Erkut Yilmaz Claims Second WPT Title at Thunder Valley, Leads POY Race 101
Dylan Linde now sits second on the WPT POY standings.

Three-handed play dragged on as the three tough players battled, and Chabra held his own. Eventually though, a flip would decide his fate and his pocket fives failed to hold versus Collopy’s ace-ten suited.

Heads-Up Battle

Yilmaz started heads-up with a marginal lead, 6.3 million to 4.9 million, but Collopy proved a worthy opponent. The two went back and forth for a long while, lasting 70 hands with plenty of dramatic double-ups along the way.

“It was a very tough final table, all the players played great,” said Yilmaz after the battle. “The heads-up match was long, and [Collopy] was playing great. I got lucky in a couple of spots and I won the tournament so I’m very happy.”

One such lucky hand for Yilmaz was a defining one. With stacks getting under 30 big blinds, the two got all the chips in preflop, Yilmaz needing help with ace-seven suited against Collopy’s pocket jacks. Yilmaz spiked the ace and held to get Collopy on the ropes with three big blinds and then immediately woke up with ace-king versus queen-jack to finish the job.

Collopy had to settle for just over $200K as Yilmaz celebrated with his hometown rail.

Erkut Yilmaz Claims Second WPT Title at Thunder Valley, Leads POY Race 102
Erkut Yilmaz wins the WPT Thunder Valley Main Event for his second title.

Images courtesy of WPT.

  • It's the second WPT win in 6 months for Erkut Yilmaz, who shipped in his hometown this time around.

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