LA Poker Classic starts


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Biggest names in the game among 791 players who bought in at $10 000 each

The L.A. Poker Classic started over the weekend at the classy Commerce Casino near Los Angeles, attracting 791 players who each bought in for a $10 000 shot at the hotly contested $2.4 million first place prize. Players who survive to the final table are guaranteed to win at least $250 000.

By way of comparison, the 2005 event pulled in 538 players and was won by Michael Mizrachi and in 2006, when Alan Goehring was the victor the field had grown to 692 players.

The top 54 players this year will be in a 'money bubble' of a prize pool worth over $7.9 million, which makes the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic the largest $10 000 buy-in event in the history of the World Poker Tour. Initial reports indicate that the crush of players necessitated special extension arrangements to fit everyone in.

Once play got underway the pace was fast and furious, with only 368 players qualifying for Day 2 of the six day event. Play is limited to 12 hours a day, with each level lasting 90 minutes. The first day started mid-afternoon, with each player holding a chip stack worth $20 000.

Last year's World Series of Poker champion Jamie Gold was among the first to exit, followed by top ace Daniel Negreanu. He was not the only big name to fall early by the wayside - last year's winner Alan Goehring did not make it to Day 2 either, and other notable players who busted out included Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo, Mark Seif, Chip Jett, Layne Flack, Tuan Le, Vanessa Rousso, Joe Hachem, Evelyn Ng, Gus Hansen, Clonie Gowen, Huck Seed, Antonio Esfandiari, Cyndy Violette, Dan Harrington, Allen Cunningham, Scott Fischman, John Juanda, Davidson Matthew, Lee Watkinson, Tony Cousineau, David Williams, Jim Bechtel, Padraig Parkinson, Amir Vahedi, Chris Grigorian, Farzad Bonyadi, Eric Froelich, Jerry Buss, James Van Alstyne, Kevin O'Donnell, Hasan Habib, Sammy Farha, John Gale, JJ Liu, John Phan, Alex Jacob, Mike Gracz, Bill Gazes, and Jennifer Tilly.

When play ended in the early hours of the morning Joe Sebok looked to be in the strongest chip position, although the official count was still awaited. But the field is still chock-a-block with seriously good professional players, and plenty of exciting action is surely still in store. Play resumes today.
Day 2


And Gavin Smith becomes the 'butt' of a friendly bet

Day 2 of the L.A. Poker Classic, currently being contested at the Commerce Casino near Los Angeles had a somewhat shorter run than day one, with play commencing at 3.30 Sunday afternoon and the action over by midnight on the same day. Nevertheless it was sufficient time to see more top players hitting the rail, and in one case a side bet involving a rear end tattoo being won.

Although Joe Sebok entered the fray as chip leader, he fell on hard times and at one time looked as if he might lose his side bet with pro Gavin Smith...that whichever exited first would have the other's initials tattooed on his butt. In the event, it was Smith who will face the needle after he moved all in with A 10 at the 3 hour point, and his challenger's pocket kings held.

But there wasn't a lot of levity in the squad of poker pros who were out of the tournament by the dinner call - Mike Matusow, Mark Newhouse, Kathy Liebert, Young Phan, Robert Mizrachi, Paul Darden, Tony Ma, Shane Schleger, Phil Laak, and Chad Brown all hit the rail.

23 year old young gun from Bodog Ari Engel strood out with aggressive and skilful play throughout, but the action went up a gear or two late in the evening when Sebok and J.C. Tran contested one of the biggest hands of the day with over $80 000 in the pot. Sebok bet $50 000 which Tran reraised all in, and Sebok called, only to be beaten by Tran and bundled out of the competition.

By play's end at midnight Tran was clearly leading with an (unofficial) stack of around $540 000, comfortably ahead of other survivors who included Ari Engel, Sean McCabe, Lee Markholt, Joe Tehan, Can Kim Hua, Scott Clements, Strasser, Nam Le, Paul Wasicka, Chris Bell, Bill Edler, Giang, Gene Todd, Kristy Gazes, Isaac Haxton, Prahlad Friedman, Steve Dannenmann, Ted Forrest, Nenad Medic, Greg Mueller, Steve Brecher, Shannon Shorr, Joe Awada, Michael Mizrachi, and Barry Greenstein.

Among the better known casualties of Day 2 were Tex Barch, Erick Lindgren, Eric Lynch, Chris McCormack, John Cernuto, David Chiu, Todd Brunson, David Levi, David Plastik, Kevin Saul, David Oppenheim, Joe Pelton, Kido Pham, Mark Gregorich, Isabelle Mercier, Patrik Antonius, and Freddy Deeb.

The World Poker Tour L.A. Classic started Saturday with a record field of 791 players, each of whom anted up the $10 000 buy-in to take part. By the end of Day 1 play, there remained 368 players with their eyes on the winner's prize of $2.4 million. The top 54 players this year will be in a 'money bubble' of a total prize pool worth over $7.9 million, which makes the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic the largest $10 000 buy-in event in the history of the World Poker Tour.
Day 3 and the money bubble bursts


152 players try to make the money cut and the final table

Day 3 of the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino near Los Angeles saw 152 survivors from a starting field of 791 taking their seats with ambitions to win the main prize of $2.4 million or at the very least make the money bubble cut by finishing in the top 54 spots.

With such an impressive roster of big name players, making the final table will be a major achievement in terms of reputation and the monetary rewards for doing that will be significant - every player on that final table will leave with at least a quarter million dollars, and the second place finisher will collect over a million.

JC Tran's Day 2 chip lead was seriously eroded early on in a $400 000 pot clash with Jacobo Fernandes, who later on took another big pot from Ari Goott to build a formidable stack.

Meanwhile, the 2006 WSOP runner-up Paul Wasicka was building a strong position too, making the half million mark after busting Joe Tehan.

Following the dinner break the remaining players took up positions at nine tables and the air of caution was apparent in careful and slow play with few action-packed incidents - the objective was clearly to make the money on the way to that final table. The attrition rate was correspondingly slow, with ten players falling in just over two hours. Paul Wasicka had maintained his steady build-up which reached $800 000 and the chiplead following a clash with Parimal Parmar, and he went up past the million only to fall back later as the fortunes of the game turned against him.

When the cash cut was finally reached it was Australian player Jimmy Sachindis who just missed it as the Bubble Boy, heading for the door in 55th place and losing his chance at a minimum payout of $22 780.

There are now 54 survivors both in the money and heading for Day 4, including Bill Edler, Jason Strasser, JC Tran, Paul Wasicka, CK Hua, Greg Mueller, Chris Bell, Joe Awada, Ed Moncada, Vincent Procopio, Ari Engel, Nam Le, Chau Giang, Isaac Haxton, Kristy Gazes, Nick Schulman, and Lee Markholt.

Bill Edler has the chip lead with a $696 000 stack, followed closely by Jason Strasser on $677 000 and at least another nine players in the half million dollar region.

The inclusion of Isaac Haxton in the middle of the field is an especially heartening note, given the misfortune that has seen his last tournament winnings of over $800 000 frozen in the Neteller debacle (see previous InfoPowa reports)

It was farewell to another slew of top players that included Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel, Minh Ly, Ted Forrest, Crispin Leyser, Toto Leonidas, Daniel Alaei, Steve Brecher, Brian Haveson, Ali Eslami, Anthony Mak, Jesse Jones, Quinn Do, Dan Schmeich, Joe Tehan, Nenad Medic, Steve Dannenmann, Lori Conn, Eugene Todd, Parhlad Friedman, Tim Phan, and Matthew Szymaszek.

Tran the chip leader as the final table crunch comes closer

The final table awaits only six of the 18 survivors still remaining in the WPT LA Poker Classic currently nearing its climax at the Commerce Casino near Los Angeles.

As Day 4 drew to a close J.C. Tran was the man, with a significant three-to-one chip lead over his nearest rivals Jacob Fernandez and Jason Strasser - both with stacks worth over a million.

Greg Mueller, Joe Awada, Ted Lawson, Lee Markholt, Jeff Cabanillas, Nick Schulman and Nam Le were all on the Day 4 casualty list, whilst the 18 players remaining include Kristy Gazes, Bill Edler, Paul Wasicka, and Chau Giang.

The next session will continue until the final table six have been decided, and the epic battle to win the $2.4 million main prize will then play itself out. Every player in that final confrontation will earn big money....the final TV table's combined cut is almost two-thirds of the total $7.9 million prize pool. But they all want the biggest pot!
Hershler wins!


LA lawyer tackles some of the world's hardest players....and wins!

The LA Poker Classic held at the Commerce Casino near Los Angeles has been taken by an LA lawyer, along with the massive $2.4 million grand prize.

Eric Hershler, a lawyer who was playing in his first big tournament, emigrated to the USA from South Africa and now lives and works in Los Angeles.

He had to beat some of the toughest international players in the game to do it, catching up and finally beating the highly respected JC Tran in an epic final. In doing so, Hershler ensured his name went on the roll of previous winners of the event, alongside Gus Hansen (2003), Antonio Esfandiari (2004), Michael Mizrachi (2005), and Alan Goehring (2006).

With a starting field of 791 players, this year's LA Poker Classic set a new record for this exciting tournament's prizepools, built by the $10,000 buy-in for the event. It took Hershler six tough days of poker against some of the best in the business to make the final table, and the relatively tournament-inexperienced player was not the favourite to win.

He faced WSOP runner-up Paul Wasicka, veteran JC Tran and big money winner Chau Giang, together with Jacobo Fernandez and David Bach at the final table, yet played with confidence, skill and calm self-control even when facing major pressure and big money action.

American player David Bach was the first man to hit the rail from the final table, taking a well earned purse of $257 425 for 6th place. Then JC Tran took out Chau Giang, who won $341 710 for 5th place.

It was Tran again at hand 88 when he sent Paul Wasicka packing in 4th position for $455 615, leaving him the undisputed chip leader with well over 50 percent of the total chips in play - millions ahead of both Fernandez and Hershler. But all that changed at hand 96 and 98 when Hershler went on the attack, punishing Tran's chip stack heavily. By hand 102 it was Fernandez in trouble and the low man in terms of chips with 1.7 million in hand, and shortly thereafter a tussle with Hershler sent him to the exit in position 3 with $607 490.

The heads up between Tran and Hershler was then on - with Hershler holding the chip lead by over a million, and it was settled at the next hand - Hershler had taken the LA Poker Classic and the $2 429 970 grand prize, and a disappointed JC Tran was headed home with the runner-up prize of $1 177 010.


Aussie pro loses the LA Poker Classic, but wins the NBC Heads Up

Australian runner-up in last year's World Series of Poker, Paul Wasicka may have been disappointed with his $455 615 fourth place exit from the LA Poker Classic, but he balanced the books with a convincing win in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship at Caesar's Palace in Vegas that paid him an impressive $500 000 - not bad income from two major tournaments in less than a week.

The Aussie beat Chad Brown to claim the 2007 title, leaving Brown holding the still desirable second prize of $250 000 for finishing second. Brown, the 2006 Bluff Magazine Player of the Year, has earlier defeated Kristy Gazes in the quarterfinals and Gavin Smith in the semifinals before facing Wasicka.

Wasicka defeated Nam Le to advance to the semifinal round, then beat actress Shannon Elizabeth to advance to the best-of-three championship match. He then needed two matches to defeat Brown and join Phil Hellmuth and Ted Forrest as prior winners of the made-for-television tournament.

Elizabeth defeated Costa Rican pro Humberto Brenes to advance to the semifinals, while Smith beat Andy Bloch. Both semifinalists won $125 000.

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