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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

2009 LAPC Preliminary Events Find Nguyen and Madsen Among Winners

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It’s one of the most anticipated tournament series of the year. While it’s not the World Series of Poker or European Poker Tour, the L.A. Poker Classic does culminate in a World Poker Tour main event. Not only is Los Angeles a pleasant destination, but the tournaments are many and the cash game action in the Commerce Casino card room gives options to players of all bankrolls.

The 2009 LAPC had added benefits. Tournament director Matt Savage was pegged to run the series, meaning that structures would be ideal, all poker media would be free to cover the events, and players would be well taken care of. Savage also announced the addition of some high buy-in events new to the series, like the $10K buy-in HORSE and the $10K heads-up championship. Put it all together, and players travel from far and wide to participate in the month-long tournament series in the hopes of grabbing some LAPC fame and fortune.

It was evident that this year’s events would be, or at least come close to being, the most well-attended in years. Walking in to the upstairs tournament area, one was immediately confronted with players everywhere, not only in their seats but in long lines of alternates and along the rail to watch their friends or favorite poker pros. The Commerce was abuzz with excitement and poker action.

With that said, let’s take a look at the some of the preliminary event winners, beginning on Thursday, January 22:

Event 1:  $335 NLHE - 1,592 entries - Eugene Tito ($124,985)
Event 2:  $545 NLHE - 473 entries - David Plastik ($59,640)
Event 3:  $545 LHE - 223 entries - Gebrehiwet Goitom ($31,367)
Event 4:  $335 NLHE - 800 entries - Alan Sugano ($58,200)
Event 5:  $335 Seven-card stud - 161 entries - Bob Golick ($14,077)
Event 6:  $335 Omaha/8 - 266 entries - Russell Cockrell ($22,449)
Event 7:  $545 NLHE shootout - 260 entries - Matthew George ($34,232)
Event 8:  $335 LHE - 240 entries - Tyson Marks ($20,259)
Event 9:  $545 NLHE - 209 entries - Matthew Lapossie ($53,560)
Event 10:  $335 NLHE w/rebuys - 623 entries, 1,298 rebuys - Jake Solis ($140,467)
Event 11:  $335 NLHE deepstack - 760 entries - Maksim Karandeyev ($55,285)
Event 12:  $545 LHE - 138 entries - Eva Neumann ($21,419)
Event 13:  $545 NLHE six-handed - 308 entries - Brian Bumpas ($46,306)
Event 14:  $545 Omama/8 & Seven-card stud - 188 entries - Nubuo Hamamato ($27,397)
Event 15:  $545 NLHE - 419 entries - Khang Pham ($54,864)
Event 16:  $545 Seven-card stud - 101 entries - Fabrice Soulier ($14,718)
Event 17:  $1,065 NLHE w/1 rebuy - 404 entries, 342 rebuys - Nikhil Gera ($195,373)
Event 18:  $545 NLHE - 485 entries - Tyson Marks ($57,217)
Event 19:  $1,585 PLO - 71 entries - Jason Mercier ($35,577)
Event 20:  $2,095 NLHE - 188 entries - Thung Huynh ($116,711)
Event 21:  $1,065 NLHE - 239 entries - Randy Ohel ($67,235)
Event 22:  $1,065 HORSE - 212 entries - Frankie O’Dell ($56,036)
Event 23:  $1,065 NLHE - 332 entries - Kenny Cruz ($88,087)
Event 24:  $1,585 NLHE - 255 entries - Jeff Madsen ($107,593)
Event 25:  $545 NLHE - 511 entries - Neil Ho ($64,437)
Event 26:  $1,585 NLHE - 195 entries - Luis Sanchez ($90,793)
Event 27:  $5,000 PLO w/1 rebuy - 50 entries, 36 rebuys - Frank Kassela ($185,445)
Event 28:  $335 NLHE w/1 rebuy - 1,362 entries - Andy D Le ($92,746)
Event 30:  $1,065 NLHE - 304 entries - Raz Mael ($80,652)
Event 31:  $545 NLHE - 502 entries - Nancy Todd Tyner ($63,301)
Event 33:  $545 NLHE shootout - 290 entries - Phong Huynh ($36,941)

Event 29:  $10,000 HORSE Championship

Two events were left out of the above listings because of their championship nature and the media coverage they received. The first was Event 29, a three-day event with a $10K buy-in that began on February 16. The HORSE championship tournament found 96 runners, most of whom were well-known players and familiar faces.

It wasn’t until more than two hours into the first day that a player was eliminated, and Cory Zeidman took that honor, followed by Ben Lin and Marco Johnson. Most players were somewhat cautious, knowing that the prize pool of $921,600 was reserved only for the top nine finishers. In fact, play was so slow that the original intent of playing down to the final 24 was thrown out in the evening hours when it was clear that would take too long. Finally, with the elimination of Brett Richey, play was stopped with 70 remaining in the field. David “Chino” Rheem held the chip lead with 95,100 chips, followed by David Oppenheim, Jeff Madsen, and David Chiu.

Day 2 began with short-stacked Lonnie Heimowitz departing early and ended with Jean-Robert Bellande taking his leave of the tournament in 17th place, leaving 16 to return for the final day of play. Jeff Madsen was in the lead when all chips were counted, bagging up a stack of 360,500, and the closest competitor at that point was Matt Graham with 237,500. No one else even topped the 200K mark.

The final day of action began with Howard Lederer and Kenny Tran missing in action, though Lederer finally arrived to play his short stack and become the first elimination of the day. Nick Schulman followed, as did Chris Amaral, Gavin Griffin, Randall Skaggs, Ralph Perry, and Steve Billirakis, at which point the final nine money-finishers were seated at the same table.

Kenny Tran was the first to go, only receiving his $10,000 buy-in back. John Monnette left in eighth place with $29,491, and Amnon Filippi, who had made a run for the chip lead earlier in the tournament, took $40,550 for seventh place, courtesy of Matt Graham. Jeff Madsen did the honors of eliminating Bob Golick in sixth place, which was worth $52,531.

At that point, the tension built at the table. As Scotty Nguyen became louder and kept the drinking to a maximum, he began to taunt other players. When he eliminated Matt Graham in fifth place for $66,355, Nguyen laughed boldly, at which point the tournament director stepped in and asked for decency. With that, Chino Rheem eliminated Chris Tsiprailidis in fourth place with $86,630 and proceeded to do the same to Jeff Madsen, who finished in third place with $122,573.

Heads-up began with chip stacks relatively even - Chino Rheem with 1,011,000 and Scotty Nguyen with 1,010,000. With that, the two chatted and decided to chop the prize money with an extra tidbit going to Rheem in exchange for Nguyen accepting the first place title. However, the results as posted showed Rheem taking $182,477 in prize money and Nguyen taking $340,993. Regardless of the details, Scotty Nguyen added another HORSE championship to his resume.

Event 32:  $10,000 NLHE Heads-Up Championship

This was no regular heads-up tournament. The event began on February 18 as a double-elimination event, and though it was scheduled to cap at 64 players, the demand was high enough to double that and open it to 128 players. Ultimately, there were 111 entrants, which created a $1,065,600 prize pool. With a bracket-style format set up for players to lose their first match and continue playing, only sitting out once they accumulate two losses, it was sure to be an action-packed tournament.

And that it was. The first day was a bit complicated, as losing didn’t necessarily mean losing. There was one player, however, who took the worst of it. Adam Weinraub took his first defeat in Round 1 but came back to defeat Clonie Gowen to move on. Then he came up against Alex Bolotin. On the first hand, Weinraub’s flopped straight lost to Bolotin’s flopped flush. The second hand saw Weinraub’s flopped two pair lose to Bolotin’s rivered straight. Finally, Weinraub flopped quad nines, but Bolotin won the match with quad tens on the river. Ouch!

Day 2 began with Round 4 ready to go and ended with two rounds of the Elite Eight. Four players finally tied for 13th place finishes - Michael Pesek, John Conkright, Peter Feldman, and Scott Seiver - setting up the final twelve players to fight for the big money on the final day.

Day 3 was set to be a long one, though it started at noon. The first round of the day saw Owen Crowe, David Paredes, Ryan Hughes, and John Racener tie for ninth place money of $25,150. Next up was the Final Four winner’s bracket that found Amit Makhija and Steve Sung tie for the $35K seventh place money. Finally, Vivek Rajkumar went on a streak and eliminated Evan Roberts in fifth place with $50K, David Oppenheim in fourth place with $75K, and James Mackey in third place with $100K.

Rajkumar was ready to face the yet-undefeated Chris Moore for the title. The first match went to Rajkumar, handing Moore his first loss when Rajkumar rivered a flush. The second match saw Rajkumar jump out to the lead and the final hand come about with Moore all-in holding pocket sevens on a 9-high board, but Rajkumar holding 10-9 for top pair. Nothing came to save Chris Moore, who took second place in the tournament for $190,000.

Vivek Rajkumar won the Heads-Up Championship, the massive trophy, and the $350,000 that went with it.

With that, the World Poker Tour moved in for the $10K L.A. Poker Classic main event to kick off on Saturday, February 21.

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