The L.A. Poker Classic is held each year at Commerce Casino, and with Tournament Director Matt Savage at the helm, the entire series of tournaments has seen a spike in attendance in recent years. Players come from all over the world to compete in the games that range from Chinese poker to $10K heads-up, and more than a month of poker tournaments, not to mention cash games of all shapes and sizes, that keep players on the West Coast for the entire month of February. But the big draw each year is the Main Event with the World Poker Tour.
In 2009, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic defied the trend of decreased attendance at $10K buy-in events by drawing 696 players to the tables. The eventual winner of that event was Cornel Cimpan, who took home nearly $1.7 million for the victory. But 2010 would prove to be even more successful.
Day 1 of the LAPC brought a whopping 745 players to the tables, which filled the tournament room and outdoor areas set up to accommodate. The size of the field in the $10K buy-in event created a prize pool of $7,152,000, which allowed for the top 72 players to be paid and the top two finishers to become millionaires; first place was set at $1,788,001 and second at $1,002,710. The notables in the field were too many to mention, as it drew most of the top players in the world. But when all was said and done, only 477 survived. The chip leader was Masa Kagawa with 124,575 chips, followed by Mark Seif and his 122,025 chips. Others in the top five included Charles Dolan, Benjamin Zamani, and Naoya Kihara.
Day 2 saw the field thin from 477 all the way down to 186. Along the way, players like Joe Hachem, Faraz Jaka, Mike Sowers, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, and Gavin Smith were eliminated. But when all of the chips were bagged at the end of the evening, it was Taylor Paur in the lead with 318,400, closely followed by Daniel Negreanu and his 316,500-chip stack. The rest of the top five were all recognizable players - Eugene Katchalov, Michael Woo, and Vanessa Rousso.
Day 3 players spent the afternoon and evening playing toward the money, and though the action started with 186, it wasn’t until the very end of the night that the money bubble burst, but not before players like Howard Lederer, Gavin Griffin, Todd Brunson, Paul Wasicka, John Cernuto, Allen Cunningham, and Jennifer Tilly left the tournament. Finally, during hand-for-hand play, it was Thomas Fuller all-in holding and an unknown player with . The board fell , and the full house eliminated Fuller in 73rd place. The last 72 players bagged their chips, all knowing they were guaranteed a minimum payout of $18,595. And in the chip lead was Mark Newhouse with 498,000 chips, followed by Chris Moore and his stack of 489,000 chips. Masa Kagawa, John Cautela, and Shawn Pilot rounded out the remainder of the top five.
Day 4 promised everyone a payout, and the process began with David Baker busting in 72nd place. Others who cashed included Robert Mizrachi in 70th place, Jon Turner in 67th, Daniel Negreanu in 66th, Hoyt Corkins in 60th, Vanessa Rousso in 59th, Bart Hanson in 51st, Prahlad Friedman in 49th, Erica Schoenberg in 42nd, Surinder Sunar in 33rd, Vivek Rajkumar in 32nd, Brett Richey in 26th, and Michael Woo in 23rd. That completed the day with 22 players remaining and Carlos Mortensen held a healthy chip lead with 1,669,000. Next in line on the leaderboard was Mark Newhouse with 1,308,000, and the rest of the top five were Raymond Dolan, Masa Kagawa, and Andras Koroknai.
The goal of Day 5 was to play down to the final table of six, and they were in for a long evening. The first to be eliminated in the afternoon was Dylan Linde, who took home $45,773 for the 22nd place finish. Others who followed included Annie Duke in 19th place, Mark Newhouse in 13th, Johnny Chan in 12th, and Mari Lou Morelli in 11th place. When the field reached nine players, it stayed that way for nearly five hours until the eventual elimination of Carlos Mortensen in ninth place. Then Steve Sung left in eighth place, and with one more player left to go, it was several more hours of action before the last bustout happened at nearly 3am. Jim Casement pushed all-in for his last 845K with , and Andras Koroknai called from the big blind with . The board brought to send Casement out in seventh place with $185,952.
And with that, the final table was set as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Jean-Claude Moussa ||1,360,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Gevork Kasabyan ||2,000,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Tri Huynh ||2,565,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Raymond Dolan ||3,300,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Michael Kamran ||680,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Andras Koroknai ||4,995,000 |
After a day off to film the final table of the WPT Invitational, the final table action began in the late afternoon of March 4. And it didn’t take long for chip movement to occur.
On the tenth hand of the action, short-stacked Kamran pushed his last 490K all-in with , but it was going to need some help against the of Kasabyan. The flop brought a straight draw for Kamran when it showed , and he even got a pair of sevens when the came on the turn, but the on the river gave Kasabyan top pair and the pot. Michael Kamran was the first to go from the table, taking with him $246,740 for the sixth place finish.
Only four hands later, it was Moussa on the short stack after having dwindled to less than 1 million chips. When Moussa raised from the button, Huynh reraised from the big blind, which prompted Moussa to push all-in with . Huynh called and showed for the advantage. And not only did that hand hold up, but the board gave Huynh the flush. J.C. Moussa was ousted in fifth place with $321,840 for the finish.
The last four players played some serious pots over the next 40 or so hands. The first two involved players taking millions of chips from Koroknai, first when Dolan grabbed a 2.6 million-chip pot, and second when Huynh took a pot worth just over 4 million chips. Still, Koroknai remained in the chip lead. But the short stacks looked for places to move, and Kasabyan found the ability to double through Huynh, and three hands later, a shorter stacked Koroknai did the same. With only 775K left, Huynh moved all-in and score a double-up through Koroknai to stay alive, though still the shortest stack at the table.
But it was Kasabyan who was the next to risk his tournament life, but the hand started innocently enough with Huynh and Kasabyan going to see a flop of . When Huynh bet the flop, Kasabyan check-raised, at which point Huynh pushed all-in with . Kasabyan called with with only one pair as compared to the two pair of his opponent. The turn brought a , but the river was a , giving Huynh the full house. Gevork Kasabyan was eliminated in fourth place with $450,580.
On the 79th hand of the night, Koroknai was able to double through Dolan, leaving the latter as the short stack but still with 1,660,000 chips.
However, Huynh was the player on the move. On the 93rd hand of the night, Koroknai moved all-in from the big blind after a raise from Huynh, and Huynh called with . Koroknai turned over , and the two players watched the flop come down for Koroknai with . The on the turn and on the river ended the tournament for Tri Huynh, who took home $665,140 for the third place finish.
Heads-up action began a short time later, after the money presentation, with the following counts:
|Andras Koroknai ||13,450,000 |
|Raymond Dolan ||1,450,000 |
It took only one hand to finish the tournament.
Koroknai pushed all-in with , and Dolan called with , in need of a great deal of help. That help came on the flop when it brought Dolan the pair of fours. The on the turn only gave Koroknai more outs on his draws, and the gave him that flush. That left Raymond Dolan, brother of pro poker player Tim Phan, with a second place finish and $1,002,710 in cash.
Andras Koroknai won the 2010 WPT L.A. Poker Classic, becoming the first Hungarian to ever win an open and televised WPT tournament. Along with the $1,788,040 in prize money, Koroknai took home a WPT bracelet, watch, L.A.P.C. trophy, and entry into the $25K WPT World Championship in April.