Paul Klann Comes From Behind To Win WPT L. A. Poker Classic Championship

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After an extended battle during heads up play, Paul Klann was able to come back to defeat Paul Volpe to win one of the most prestigious events the tournament circuit has to offer, the World Poker Tour’s L. A. Poker Classic.

The six men vying for the title were ready for action when the cards went into the air on Thursday afternoon. Leading the way was Volpe, with his 4.195 million stack, while Klann was ensconced in second place over 800K chips behind him. The remainder of the table was replete with challenges, including veteran player Danny Fuhs, talented “newcomers” in David Fong and Jesse Yaginuma, and a champion from the European Poker Tour in the United Kingdom’s Toby Lewis. Whoever was going to take the title at the Commerce Casino would have a tough fight to earn the championship.

Only thirteen hands into the final table, the first casualty came about with the short-stacked Lewis. After coming to the final table with slightly more than a million in chips, Lewis found a spot to get some action after Fuhs made a minimum raise to 100K and Klann made the call. After Fuhs took some time to deliberate his action, he made the call and Klann quickly got out of the way. Lewis got his money in good, holding an A-10 against the A-9 of Fuhs, but the nine on the flop changed the course of the hand. The turn and river wouldn’t bring a ten to the rescue, sending Lewis out of the tournament in sixth place.

Volpe and Klann would dominate the action after Lewis’ elimination, pushing them further out in front of the trailing pack. At one point, the duo held almost ten million of the chips in play between them, while the other three players could only muster slightly over five million. That would change – as would the chip lead – when Fuhs was able to double up through Volpe to grab the top slot.

It would take over eighty hands of play before the next departure would take place. Fong, who swapped double ups with Yaginuma during that time (on back to back hands, even), moved all in after Fuhs made a min-raise. Fuhs quickly called, only to find himself in a classic race with his Big Slick against Fong’s pocket Queens. The 8-4-2 flop kept Fong in the lead momentarily, but a King on the turn sealed his fate. When one of the other two ladies in the deck failed to materialize on the river, Fong would hit the exits at the Commerce Casino in the fifth place position.

That hand would extend Fuhs’ lead, but he would quickly come back to the pack. Four hands following his elimination of Fong, Fuhs doubled up Yaginuma (ironically, it was the same situation – Fuhs’ A-K against Yaginuma’s pocket Queens) when the board failed to bring an Ace or King. After that double up, Klann once again moved into the lead, but the field was tightly bunched together as the remaining four men passed the 100-hand mark of final table play.

Volpe would get back into the game by doubling up through Yaginuma, but Klann would be the table captain. He would eventually work his way out to over 6.6 million in chips, with Volpe his closest competitor with slightly less than four million. Yaginuma would get some revenge on Volpe by doubling back through him as the late evening hours descended on the Pacific Coast.

Almost 70 hands after the last elimination, the action would move from a slow simmer to a full blown explosion. Fuhs lost a key hand that saw Volpe double up, putting Fuhs on the short stack. Although he would double up on the next hand, Fuhs would eventually get the remainder of his once-mighty stack in against Volpe, but it would be for naught. Fuhs’ Q-9 was behind Volpe’s K-J from the start and it didn’t improve on the 7-6-4-A-7 board, sending the veteran pro from the final table in the fourth place slot.

Down to three players, the action heated up even more. Only seven hands later, Yaginuma would push his stack to the center with a Q-J and found a customer in Volpe, who sat on an A-10. The nine-high board failed to change the situation, eliminating Yaginuma in third and setting the showdown for the L. A. Poker Classic title.

Volpe was sitting on a 2:1 lead at this point, but Klann would prove to be a formidable opponent. Klann would take eight of the first ten heads up hands to pull to within a million chips of Volpe, but Volpe repelled the attack for a bit. As the players took a break shortly after midnight, Volpe clung to a 500K chip lead over Klann.

After the break, there was a turn of events that could have brought about the end of the tournament. Volpe had fallen behind Klann (who had won 16 of the 20 heads up hands to this point), but would double up when his 3-2 was able to catch trips on the turn against Klann’s A-Q for Aces up. At this point, Volpe held a 6:1 lead and seemed to be on the way to the title.

Klann, however, would double back on the next hand to cut the Volpe advantage to 2:1, then slowly began to grind his way back into the tournament. Only six hands after what could have been the end, Klann was back in the lead with a 500K chip advantage over Volpe. When the end came, it occurred in a stunning fashion.

With the duo nearly equal in chips, Klann made a min-raise to 600K and Volpe over bet the pot by moving all in. Surprisingly, Klann made the call and tabled only a K-10 for battle. Volpe, however, was in even worse shape; his J-9 was live, but it needed a great deal of help to pass Klann. Once the board came with no Jack or nine, the chips were counted down. It was found that Klann was the player at stake and the double up pushed him over the 14 million chip mark. Left with only 600K, Volpe would bow out on the very next hand to crown Paul Klann the champion.

1. Paul Klann, $1,004,090
2. Paul Volpe, $651,170
3. Jesse Yaginuma, $429,810
4. Danny Fuhs, $316,650
5. David Fong, $236,250
6. Toby Lewis, $193,560

There’s no rest for the players (or tournament director Matt Savage) with the completion of the L. A. Poker Classic. The next event on the WPT schedule, the Bay 101 Shooting Star at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, begins on Monday. Always one of the more popular stops on the WPT because of its bounty format (a player who eliminates one of the bounty pros earns a $2500 payout and a t-shirt to commemorate the elimination), the Bay 101 Shooting Star should provide its usual level of excitement. For now, however, the excitement rests with Paul Klann, the champion of the L. A. Poker Classic.

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