WPT L. A. Poker Classic Underway, Chance Kornuth Leading The Way

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Kicking off their 3rd Annual “California Swing,” the World Poker Tour has landed in sunny Southern California – the Commerce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA, to be precise – for their perennial stop at the L. A. Poker Classic. The first stop of a trio of tournaments in California (the Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose and the WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento make up the other legs of the “Swing”), the L. A. Poker Classic is one of the longest tenured tournaments on the WPT schedule, dating back to its inaugural season (only the Legends of Poker and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic can also say that). It is also one of the few tournaments left on the WPT schedule that is “old school” – one starting day and a $10,000 buy in.

Perhaps because of this – or maybe it was the American Poker Awards that were held on Thursday night – the Commerce Casino’s tournament arena was packed to the gills with prominent professionals. With eight levels to play on Saturday, nobody wanted to miss out on any of the action, so players such as Darren Elias, Anthony Gregg, Stephen Chidwick, Mike Leah, Freddy Deeb, Mohsin Charania, Fedor Holz, Jonathan Little, Tom Marchese, Carlos Mortensen and Barry Greenstein had already taken their chairs when the cards hit the air on Saturday afternoon. With the late registration period going on until the start of play on Sunday, however, there were a few stragglers to the event.

Level 2 would bring three strong players to the mix, including a former LAPC champion. Former WPT champions Phil Laak, Marvin Rettenmaier and Season XII L. A. Poker Classic champion Chris Moorman dropped $10K into the kitty for their right to play just as three others were making their way to the exit. Because of the “no rebuy” format of the LAPC, players such as Erik Seidel, Tyler Patterson and Cord Garcia had the afternoon to sightsee in Los Angeles.

One of the early movers that would prove to be around by the end of the day would be Chance Kornuth. During the afternoon, he proved the power of perseverance when, on a flop of J-9-2, his flop bet of 1700 was called. After a King peeled on the turn, Kornuth would check-call a 3000 chip bet from his opponent and, when a Queen hit the river to put a difficult board up, Kornuth again woke up for 5100 chips. His opponent didn’t believe the story, making the call and, after Kornuth showed pocket Queens for the rivered set, all his opponent could do was kiss the chips goodbye as his cards headed to the muck and Kornuth moved to 53,000 in chips.

Kornuth would use that boost to roll through Day 1 of the L. A. Poker Classic. By the time Level 8 had concluded, Kornuth had added slightly more than 100K to that stack, good enough to hold onto the chip lead for Day 2 on Sunday:

1. Chance Kornuth, 153,600
2. Barry Hutter, 142,200
3. Grayson Ramage, 118,000
4. Jesse Yaginuma, 116,000
5. Jason Les, 115,400
6. Alexander Lakhov, 112,100
7. Max Altergott, 109,500
8. Mark Newhouse, 108,500
9. Matthew Lapossie, 107,600
10. Phil Laak, 105,000

There will be 305 players returning from the 488 that put their money up on Saturday for action. Unfortunately, such players as Samantha Abernathy, Ari Engel, Mike Sexton, Christian Harder, Keven Stammen and Loni Harwood will not be part of the festivities.

After the cards hit the air officially for the start of Day 2 on Sunday, the window will close as to any new entries for the tournament. At that point, the players will learn just what they are playing for (right now, taking off the ‘juice,’ it is around $4.5 million) and will settle in to determine the next champion of the World Poker Tour’s L. A. Poker Classic.

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