The 2008 L.A. Poker Classic began on Saturday, February 23rd with 665 players buying in to the $10,000 World Poker Tour main event. When the numbers were calculated, the prize pool was $6,374,400. The days of play leading up to the final table were discussed here.
When all was said and done, the final table of six returned on Thursday, February 28th to compete for the title and appeared with chip counts as follows:
Action began with chip leader Phil Ivey playing the first five of six hands, winning two small pots but losing three larger ones. Within the first round, he lost his chip lead and found the need to settle down and be more patient. The importance of winning the WPT title, one that had eluded him in seven final tables prior to this, seemed to take over and cause the slowdown.
Phil Hellmuth had been running well during most of the tournament and also came to the final table with a deep desire to add a WPT title to his resume. But in the second round of play, he came face-to-face with Nam Le. In a limped pot, the two players saw a flop of . Le bet and Hellmuth called. After the turn of , Le bet, and Hellmuth raised all-in. Le called and showed K-3 for two pair, and Hellmuth showed J-8 for middle pair. Le doubled up, and Hellmuth went on semi-tilt.
A little while later, Hellmuth moved all-in with A-9, and Charles Moore called with A-Q. The board produced A-J-2-7-Q to eliminate Hellmuth in sixth place. While he did not earn his WPT title to go with his 11 World Series of Poker bracelets, he did go to the cashier’s cage for $229,820 and the knowledge that this cash put him over the $10 million in tournament earnings mark for his career.
Scott Montgomery had a roller coaster ride of an evening at the table, at one point sitting atop the leader board, and then seeing the chips go away. Quinn Do doubled up to more than 3.1 million chips through Montgomery at one point, which put the new short stack below 400,000.
Though Montgomery came back to double up through Le, the next hand would be a key one. Le raised it up pre-flop, and Montgomery shoved from the big blind for all of his chips. Le quickly called with , and Montgomery reluctantly showed J-8 offsuit. The board came 7-5-5-3-3, and Le eliminated Montgomery in fifth place. The 26-year old Canadian online player – and former English teacher – who entered the tournament through a $500 satellite cashed for $296,860.
The all-too-quiet Ivey waited until more than 50 hands had been dealt to wage his comeback. He proceeded to take a 3.14 million chip pot from Le, then a nearly 2 million chip pot from Do. Little by little, without any exceptionally monstrous pots, Ivey chipped up continually to regain the chip lead.
It wasn’t until the tournament’s final table approached 100 hands that there was another casualty. Le raised from the small blind, and Ivey pushed all-in from the big blind. Le quickly called with pocket A’s, and Ivey showed pocket 3’s. The board produced 10-6-2-3-Q, and Ivey won the pot with his set of 3’s, sending Nam Le to the rail in the process. The former WPT Bay 101 champion was given $411,770 for his efforts.
Only one hand later, Ivey got into action again, this time only limping from the small blind while Moore checked in the big blind. Upon seeing the flop of 8-5-2 with two hearts, Ivey bet and Moore called. The turn was a 7 of spades, Ivey bet 400,000, Moore came over the top to be all-in, and Ivey quickly called with 8-7 for two pair. Moore turned over 6-2 for bottom pair and a straight draw. The river was a J, and Moore was sent away. The 59-year old oil industry retiree was eliminated from his second ever final table – Aruba in 2002 – and given $625,630.
Heads-up action began with a wide gap between the two players:
Phil Ivey – 10.82 million
Quinn Do – 2.48 million
The first hand between the duo began with a 20,000 ante and blinds at the 80,000 and 160,000 level. Ivey took the small pot uncontested.
On the second hand of heads-up action, Do limped into the pot, Ivey raised to 560,000, and Do called. Upon a flop of A-8-6, all of spades, Ivey bet out for 700,000. Relatively quickly, Do called. The turn was the A of clubs, and Ivey moved all-in. Do thought for several minutes before calling.
Ivey showed the A-8 for a full house, and Do produced the 9-8 of hearts for two pair. The irrelevant river card was a 4, and Quinn Do was forced to take second place for $909,400. The 2005 WSOP limit hold’em bracelet winner has long fought for his chance to win a WPT title, and he did everything he could to battle the chip leaders and survive to take second place.
Phil Ivey finally achieved his goal of winning a World Poker Tour event, especially upon his eighth appearance at a WPT final table. The immensely respected high-limit pro player is widely considered to be one of the best in the world, and making eight final tables in only six seasons of the show is one feat; winning the title is another. He takes home $1,596,100 for his performance, along with a trophy and the title of WPT champion.