By Matt Clark
WPT Champions Club member Mike Del Vecchio (pictured) came into the Season XVI WPT Five Diamond final table third in chips and a few hours later, exited in third place. The $752,196 prize for third was bittersweet for Del Vecchio, who was looking forward to potentially adding his name to the WPT Champions Cup for a second time.
The money for third is nearly three times what Del Vecchio earned for winning WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley in Season XV, but immediately after busting, Del Vecchio felt disappointed about coming up shy of his ultimate goal.
“Thunder Valley was so much sweeter because of the win,” Del Vecchio told WPT.com following his elimination Sunday at Bellagio. “What really drove it home was winning first place. Nothing better could have happened that day. I feel a little short today. The money is really nice, but it still feels like I fell short.”
Not much went Del Vecchio’s way at the final table, as the aggressive 21-year-old Sean Perry on his left along with few hands to play handcuffed him. Del Vecchio expected Perry to be driving the action and would have liked to have picked up a few more chips from Perry before Perry was eliminated in fourth place.
“I sort of played my hands and didn’t feel like I had many opportunities there,” Del Vecchio said. “Especially with Sean playing super crazy on my left. I was hoping to be the benefactor of a lot of those chips, but I just never really had anything to play with. I needed to let my cards play and speak, and they weren’t able to do that. I liked how I played my hands for the most part and am pretty happy with the result.”
With the new influx to his bankroll, Del Vecchio can take the next step in his journey toward moving away from poker. Del Vecchio still expects to keep World Poker Tour events marked on his calendar with the next one already written down.
“Even if I took first place, I was going to keep on playing these,” Del Vecchio said of WPT events. “I love the World Poker Tour, especially since it’s given me so much. You’ll probably see me at LAPC and in California. Figure I have to defend my title at Thunder Valley.”
Del Vecchio finished by collecting the highest payout of his career and is balanced on the emotion of weighing the outcome versus his overall expectation coming into today.
“The money hasn’t really clicked yet,” Del Vecchio said. “When you’re playing something like this, you want to get first place so bad. There’s things that you’re doing to maximize the amount of money you’re going to make rather than win the tournament. I just had one goal in my mind and I was totally focused on that. I came up short, it happens.”
In addition to the $752,196 prize Del Vecchio won, he also earned a trip for two on a private jet thanks to winning the JetSmarter Outlast Promotion in the WPT Five Diamond Main Event.
The two upcoming events on Season XVI of the World Poker Tour that Del Vecchio mentioned are back-to-back events at the end of February and early March. First up is the WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Main Event at Commerce Casino in Southern California starting on February 24, 2018. The second is the WPT Rolling Thunder $3,500 Main Event at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Northern California starting on March 2.
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive.com
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