With the World Series of Poker coming up, talk at some point will inevitably turn to the meaning of a gold bracelet. There are dozens upon dozens of events now, leading some people to consider the value of a bracelet to be watered down. Many of the younger generation of players are more concerned with the money they win than the prestige of a tournament victory (and that’s cool, lest you think I’m some fogey – I would cry if I won the money these players are winning). But for some, like WPT L.A. Poker Classic champ David ODB Baker, the crown matters.
A veteran of the poker world and a regular at the Commerce Casino, home of the L.A. Poker Classic, this tournament was a very big deal to Baker.
“It kind of sounds corny, but it really means so much to me,” Baker told WPT.com after he won the tournament. “I’ve battled my whole life in this business, I care about this business, I care about the prestige of these things and I know some of the guys are a little too cool for school. But I’ve had a glaring omission on my resumé. I get to check off all those boxes today and I’m overjoyed.”
It was a lot of boxes to check. Baker was missing a World Poker Tour title. He was missing a win for more than a million dollars (aren’t we all). And as a mixed games specialist, he didn’t have a major No-Limit Hold’em championship. Three birds with one stone or something like that.
Though Baker ended two days in a row as the chip leader, it was four-time WPT champ Darren Elias that held the lead going into the six-handed final table. And it wasn’t a small lead. Elias had had 9.070 million chips, while Baker was in second place with 4.760 million. With Matas Cimbolas at 4.675 million chips and nobody else above 1.3 million, it looked like it would be a three-horse race for the title.
Lo and behold, that’s what happened, with the field narrowing to the three of them after just 41 hands at the final table. Compare that to three-handed play, which lasted more than 100 hands before Elias was eliminated by Cimbolas in third place.
Going into heads-up, Baker had a sizeable advantage, 15.375 million chips to 6.475 million. Baker kept that chip gap largely the same throughout heads-up play, which took close to 40 hands to complete. Just before the final hand, Baker stretched his lead a bit, sending Cimbolas down to close to 4 million chips.
And then it was over. After an uneventful pre-flop round, the flop was 3-A-T rainbow. Baker check-called a 300,000 chip bet to bring on a turn of 6. Baker checked again and Cimbolas bet 600,000. Baker called after some thought. When a 2 was dealt on the river, Baker switched gears and bet 10 million chips, putting Cimbolas all-in. Cimbolas called and Baker quickly showed that he had 4-5 for a straight, while Cimbolas only had T-5 for a pair.
For the win, Baker banked $1,015,000, which includes an entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
2019 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Final Table Results
1. David ODB Baker – $1,015,000
2. Matas Cimbolas – $646,930
3. Darren Elias – $473,280
4. Jean-Claude Moussa – $346,550
5. John Smith – $267,400
6. Steve Yea – $201,650
*The final table was held at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas.