2017 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day Five: Daniel Strelitz In Charge at Final Table with Mike Sexton Lurking
For the third consecutive day and in dominant fashion, Daniel Strelitz has set himself as the man to beat at the 2017 World Poker Tour L. A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA. He will be leading the final table this afternoon when play reconvenes and faces a daunting challenge in a group of men that includes 2017 WPT champion and commentator Mike Sexton.
16 players came back to the tables on Wednesday, looking to whittle the contenders down to the official WPT final table of six. Strelitz was carrying the chip lead, as he did after Day Three of the tournament, and was the only player left with better than a two million chip stack (2.02 million, to be exact). There was a litany of contenders looking to derail Strelitz’s run, however, including Matt Berkey (1.118 million), former WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock (1.157 million), Rainer Kempe (798K), Sexton (908K), Simeon Naydenov (478K) and a short stacked Dzmitry Urbanovich (288K).
With a million-dollar payday awaiting the eventual champion, the players were deliberate in the actions and looking for the best opportunity to move up the pay ladder. Naydenov found an early double up through Donald Maloney in a classic race situation – Maloney’s pocket Queens against Naydenov’s Big Slick – that saw Naydenov flop a King to take the hand. Meanwhile, Sexton was the beneficiary of some of Kempe’s chips when he eliminated the German but tripled up Visnja Leutic when she caught Queens up against Sexton’s pocket Kings.
Strelitz wasn’t sitting back on his laurels, however. He knocked off Dean Baranowski in 17th place and, within a couple of hours of the opening bell, was sitting on a stack of 2.6 million. Strelitz continued to dominate the field and, after Naydenov eliminated Urbanovich (who survived much longer than many thought) in 11th place, headed to the unofficial final table of ten men with 3.45 million in chips.
He could have just sat back and cruised into the final table with the chips that he had, but Strelitz kept getting strong cards. He knocked off John Cynn in tenth place, adding Cynn’s roughly 500K in chips to his stack, and approached the four million mark in forcing Serock off a hand only seven hands into play at the unofficial final table. He didn’t slow down over the next rotation around the table either, putting together some more moves to bring his stack to 4.42 million. About the only player who could slow down Strelitz was Sexton, who chipped a couple small pots out of Strelitz to stay viable in the tournament.
After a break in the tournament to move to Level 25, Strelitz exploded on the remaining field. On Hand 55, Strelitz was able to eliminate Serock in eighth place after sparring with him over several hands and, only twelve hands later, showed Berkey the door in seventh place after rivering a miraculous nut flush against Berkey’s flopped Broadway straight. In knocking off three of the four players at the unofficial final table, Strelitz’s chip stack soared over six million to set him up as the dominant force at the official WPT final table:
1. Daniel Strelitz, 6.485 million
2. Simeon Naydenov, 2.86 million
3. Jesse Martin, 2.54 million
4. Jared Griener, 1.895 million
5. Mike Sexton, 1.165 million
6. Richard Tuhrim, 680,000
While Strelitz’s run has been quite impressive, the eyes of the poker world are set firmly on Sexton. After being barred from playing on the circuit for much of its fifteen-year history, Sexton would win his first WPT championship at the WPT partypoker.net Montreal tournament in November 2016, Sexton has catapulted himself into the race for the Season XV Player of the Year competition. With a victory here at the LAPC, Sexton will be barely behind the current leader Benjamin Zamani, with plenty of time to pass him before the season’s conclusion.
Don’t leave anyone else out of pulling a surprise, however. Naydenov is particularly dangerous and, as the player closest to Strelitz in the chip count and on Strelitz’s immediate left, only needs a couple of breaks to catch up. It might be a task for Martin, Griener or especially Tuhrim (as the short stack) to make any big moves, but there’s plenty of chips out there that can easily switch hands should the fortunes change.
The final table of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic will begin at 4PM (Pacific Time) and is set to be recorded for broadcast on the Season XV schedule of the WPT on Fox Sports 1 (there is no live stream of the tournament). At stake for the remaining six men is the lion’s share of the $5 million prize pool, including the top prize of $1,001,110 for the eventual champion.
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