A Look at the Storied History of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Championship – World Poker Tour

A Look at the Storied History of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Championship – World Poker Tour

Season XV of the World Poker Tour continues Saturday, February 25, 2017, with the start of the legendary L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino. One of only three events to be a charter member of the WPT and remain on the schedule all 15 seasons, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic is as marquee of a…

Matt Clark Feb 25, 2017 Commerce Casino Remington Trophy and WPT Champions Cup

Season XV of the World Poker Tour continues Saturday, February 25, 2017, with the start of the legendary L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino. One of only three events to be a charter member of the WPT and remain on the schedule all 15 seasons, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic is as marquee of a poker tournament that one is going to get on the circuit.

The WPT L.A. Poker Classic is one of a select few events from around the world to maintain a $10,000 buy-in since its inception. With such a large buy-in, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic has generated some of the world’s biggest prize pools and first-place prizes, and it continues to attract the biggest names in the game.

Let’s take a look back at the first 14 seasons of the event.

Season I: Gus Hansen Takes First L.A. Poker Classic Title

Gus Hansen is a legend of the World Poker Tour, with three WPT titles and more than $4 million in earnings on the tour. Season I was particularly great for Hansen, as he stormed onto the scene with two WPT victories. One of those was the inaugural WPT L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino.

Hansen navigated his way through the 136-player field to find himself at the televised final table with Daniel Rentzer, Andy Bloch, David Pham, Steven Shkolnik, and Bob Stupak. They were all chasing the $507,190 first-place prize, but in the end it came down to Hansen and Rentzer.

Hansen emerged victorious in the heads-up battle to claim the lion’s share of the $1.36 million prize pool and etch his name on the WPT Champions Cup for the second time.

Season II: The Magician Dazzles All

In Season II, the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic increased in numbers, attracting 382 entries for the $10,000 Championship. A prize pool of $3.782 million was generated, and the top 27 spots were set to reach the money.

Finishing atop them all and vaulting himself into poker stardom was Antonio Esfandiari. Esfandiari defeated Vinny Vinh in heads-up play to take the $1.4 million first-place prize and his first WPT title.

Not only was the victory Esfandiari’s first WPT title, but it was his first major poker tournament title. Since then, he’s added a second WPT title to his trophy case and racked up more than $27 million in live tournament earnings heading into the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic Championship.

Also at the final table was WPT Champions Club member David Benyamine, placing sixth, and fellow WPT Champions Club member JC Tran finished seventh.

Season III: The Grinder Wins Nearly $2 Million

Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi had begun to make a name for himself during Season III of the World Poker Tour, but it was the WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship that truly put him on the map.

Mizrachi was one of 538 entries in the Season III WPT L.A. Poker Classic, but when the dust settled he was the only one who was left standing. Mizrachi topped the field to take home a first-place prize of $1.86 million. He defeated Haralabos Voulgaris in heads-up play at a final table that also included Ted Forrest (4th place) and Erick Lindgren (5th place).

Mizrachi has since gone on to win a second WPT title during a career that has seen him earn more than $15 million in live poker tournaments ahead of the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic Championship.

Other notables to finish in the money were WPT Champions Club members Erik Seidel (9th place), Freddy Deeb (12th place), and Dan Harrington (17th place).

Season IV: Alan Goehring Scores Huge in Los Angeles

Numbers stayed increasing for Season IV of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, with the field shooting up to 692 entries. A prize pool of $6.643 million was generated, with $2.392 million awaiting the winner.

Emerging victorious to claim that massive first-place payout was none other than Alan Goehring, who topped Daniel Quach in heads-up play. Goehring was no stranger to the WPT winner’s circle, as he famously won the Season I WPT $25,000 World Championship for more than $1 million in prize money.

In addition to winning the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in Season IV, Goehring has finished 14th, 27th, and 39th in the event.

JC Tran, who finished seventh two years ago, made the official WPT final table this time around, taking fifth place for $265,728.

Season V: Eric Hershler Wins Largest WPT L.A. Poker Classic Ever

If you can believe it, the field size for the L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship grew again for Season V, with an enormous field of 791 runners turning up for their shot at World Poker Tour glory.

The field generated a prize pool of $7.594 million — the largest in WPT L.A. Poker Classic history — with a first-place prize of $2.43 million to be awarded to the champion.

JC Tran reached the final table for the second year in a row, but his run was put to a stop by Eric Hershler in heads-up play. Tran scored $1.177 million for his second-place finish, but it was Hershler walking away with the mammoth winner’s prize of $2.43 million and the WPT Champions Cup.

For Hershler, it was his first live tournament cash on record, according to his profile on HendonMob.com.

Season VI: The Year of Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey is arguably the most recognized poker player in the game, but he went the first five seasons of the World Poker Tour unable to etch his name on the prestigious WPT Champions Cup. That all changed in Season VI when Ivey won the WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1.596 million.

Ivey topped a field of 665 entrants in the $10,000 Championship, defeating Quinn Do in heads-up play at a final table that included Charles “Woody” Moore (3rd place), Nam Le (4th place), Scott Montgomery (5th place), and Konstantin Puchkov (6th place).

The win marked another feather in the cap for the legendary player, who at time of writing ahead of the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic boasts nearly $24 million in live tournament earnings.

The event paid 64 spots that year, with WPT Champions Club members Kai Chang (9th place), Mike Watson (12th place), and Noah Schwartz (38th place) all making deep runs. Defending champion Eric Hershler tried his best for back-to-back performances, but his run ended in 28th place.

Season VII: Cornel Cimpan Takes the Title

The WPT L.A. Poker Classic returned to Commerce Casino in Season VII of the World Poker Tour with another spectacular showing. A field of 696 entries generated a prize pool of $6.682 million, with $1.687 million going to the winner. That winner was Cornel Cimpan, who defeated Binh Nguyen in heads-up play.

The win marked the first major tournament victory for Cimpan, and the first of his two WPT titles. Also at the final table was Mike Sowers (3rd place), Chris Karagulleyan (4th place), Pat Walsh (5th place), and Chris Ferguson (6th place).

The top 63 places were paid in the event, and WPT Champions Club members Nick Schulman (17th place), Hoyt Corkins (26th place), and Betrand “ElkY” Grospellier (32nd place) all had deep runs.

Season VIII: Hungarian Andras Koroknai Tops 745 Entries

Hungary’s Andras Koroknai was one of 745 entries in the Season VIII WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship, and he turned about to be the most important one when it was all said and done. Koroknai topped the field and earned the $1.788 million first-place prize.

Koroknai faced Raymond Dolan in heads-up play, and Dolan also earned a seven-figure payday for his runner-up result.

The win was Koroknai’s second live tournament result, according to his HendonMob.com profile, but it remains the largest live score of his career heading into the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic.

Just missing out on the final table was Steve Sung, who placed eighth for $135,888, and three-time WPT champion Carlos Mortensen placed ninth in the event. Mortensen’s fellow WPT Champions Club members Mark Newhouse (13th place) and Shawn Buchanan (24th place) also ran deep.

Season IX: Gregory Brooks Makes His Only WPT Count

Gregory Brooks has only one World Poker Tour cash on his résumé, but he made it count. Brooks won the Season IX WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1.654 million when he topped an extremely tough final table in one of poker’s most prestigious events.

At the final table, Brooks had to contend with three-time WPT champion Carlos Mortensen, Amir Lehavot, Stephen Gross, and Darryll Fish. In heads-up play, it was Brooks against Vivek Rajkumar for all the marbles, and Brooks came out on top.

The event paid the top 63 finishers, with WPT Champions Club members Richard Both (55th place) and Scott Seiver (57th place) squeaking into the money. Outside of the final table, WPT Champions Club member James Carroll made the deepest run with a 10th-place finish, and former WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi notably placed 48th.

Season X: Sean Jazayeri Rides WPT Boot Camp Lessons to Victory

Sean Jazayeri attended WPT Boot Camp to better his poker game. Not only did he improve, but Jazayeri went on to win the Season X WPT L.A. Poker Classic to the tune of $1.37 million.

Jazayeri topped a field of 549 entries, including a world-class final table. In heads-up play, Jazayeri was pitted against the formidable David “Doc” Sands, but he came out on top. Also at the official WPT final table were Dan Kelly (3rd place), Noah Schwartz (4th place), Jason Burt (5th place), and Jason Somerville (6th place).

If you think that’s tough competition, let’s not forget that the road to the final table wasn’t a breeze. Allen Carter and Joe Hachem, both WPT Champions Club members, finished in seventh and 12th places, respectively, and notables David Pham, Stephen Chidwick, Sorel Mizzi, and Jason DeWitt fill in the spots between Carter and Hachem.

Season XI: Paul Klann Scores Seven Figures

The Season XI WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship event came down to Paul Klann and Paul Volpe. Although Volpe entered both the final table and heads-up play as the chip leader, it was Klann who emerged victorious to score the $1.004 million first-place prize.

For Klann, a Canadian, the win marked the largest live score of his tournament career, according to his HendonMob.com profile. It remained as such ahead of the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic.

The event attracted a field of 517 entries and generated a prize pool of $4.963 million. In addition to Volpe, Klann had to contend with the likes of Jesse Yaginuma (3rd place), Danny Fish (4th place), David Fong (5th place), and Toby Lewis (6th place) at the final table.

Garrett Greer, a tough competitor on the World Poker Tour, who has knocked on the WPT Champions Club door time and time again, just missed out on the official final table with a seventh-place result.

The top 63 places reached the money, and Noah Schwartz best represented the WPT Champions Club with a 19th-place finish.

Season XII: Chris Moorman Finally Gets a Major Live Victory

Chris Moorman is widely known for having the most money won in online poker. Ahead of the Season XII WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship, which attracted a field of 534 players and generated $5.126 million in prize money, Moorman had yet to score a major live tournament victory. That all changed with his win at Commerce Casino, though, as Moorman walked away with the $1.015 million top prize.

Entering the final table, Moorman was second in chips behind Michael Rocco. Rocco would end up going out in third place, leaving Moorman to battle with Glenn Lafaye for the title. Lafaye had the lead to start the heads-up match, but Moorman stormed to the front on the very first hand the two played. He never looked back after that.

For Moorman, the win was the second largest score of his live tournament career, according to HendonMob.com, in a career that sees the British player with nearly $4.6 million in live tournament earnings at time of writing.

Outside of the final table, WPT Champions Club members Ravi Raghavan placed 19th and Matthew Waxman finished 26th. Eric Hershler, a former WPT L.A. Poker Classic winner as discussed above, placed 29th.

Season XIII: Anthony Zinno Wins Third WPT Title in Back-To-Back Performance

Anthony Zinno pulled off an amazing feat in the Season XIII WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship. A two-time WPT champion heading into the event, one of which he won at WPT Fallsview right before, Zinno scored back-to-back victories to earn his third World Poker Tour title and $1.016 million in first-place prize money.

Zinno topped a field of 538 entries in the $10,000 Championship event to take home the lion’s share of the $5.165 million prize pool.

Zinno had quite the battle at the final table, having to go up against the likes of Mike Leah (2nd place), Chris Klodnicki (3rd place), and Igor Yaroshevskyy (4th place).

The win helped propel Zinno to become the Hublot WPT Player of the Year for Season XIII.

Season XIV: Germany’s Dietrich Fast Takes It Home

Germany rising star Dietrich Fast emerged victorious atop the 515-player field in the Season XIV WPT L.A. Poker Classic. Fast defeated Mike Shariati in heads-up play and earned a first-place score of $1 million.

Joining Fast and Shariati at the final table were Alex Keating (3rd place), Sam Soverel (4th place), Farid Jattin (5th place), and Anthony Spinella (6th place).

For Fast, the win was the largest of his live tournament career, according to his HendonMob.com profile.

The top 63 places reached the money in the $10,000 buy-in event, with WPT Champions Club member John Henningan placing seventh and just missing out on the official WPT final table.

Other notables to go deep were two former WPT L.A. Poker Classic runner-ups Binh Nguyen (8th place) and David “Doc” Sands (11th place), WPT Champions Club member Seth Davies (13th place), and Ryan Riess (14th place).

As you can see, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic has a long and storied history. That history will only grow with the 15th edition of the event, and it all kicks off Saturday, February 25, 2017, at Commerce Casino in Southern California.

Click here for coverage of the Season XV WPT L.A. Poker Classic.

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