There are a few things that you can count on in life – death, taxes, some segment of the New England Patriots pissing you off. You can perhaps add the yearly stop by the World Poker Tour at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles for the L. A. Poker Classic and its Main Event, which begins this afternoon at noon Pacific Time. Now the only tournament that has been a featured part of the WPT schedule in each season of its existence, the LAPC is one of the venerable events in the game and a throwback to the way it used to be in the tournament poker world.
Old School Freezeout, Big Buy In…Some Things Never Change
The L. A. Poker Classic has been the same since it was first a part of the WPT schedule back in 2003. With its $10,000 buy-in and its freezeout format – you know, buy in once and, if you blow through it, you’re out of the tournament? – it is very much the way that poker used to be played before the greed of casinos, tours and even the players took over. The LAPC has kept this format since it was a part of the Season I schedule on the WPT and, now into Season XVII, WPT Tournament Director (and Commerce tournament director) Matt Savage has seen no reason to change.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of modifications to the WPT LAPC Main Event. There will be late registration allowed to the start of Level 11 on Day 2 (expected to be approximately 3:30PM Pacific Time on Sunday afternoon), giving players the chance to survey the field before deciding to jump into the tournament. And, for better or for worse, the WPT has designated that this tournament will be one that is suspended for filming at the HyperX Esports Arena; that’s right, the conclusion of the LOS ANGELES Poker Classic will be in Las Vegas on March 11 (at least they won’t have to wait two months to play it out like other WPT events).
One of the most popular things about the WPT LAPC Main Event is that there is plenty of play in the tournament structure. Starting with 40,000 in chips, Day 1 features eight 60-minute levels that ramps up to five 90-minute levels for Days 2 and 3. On Day 4 and 5, four 120-minute levels are set (of course, Day 5 will play down to the final table of six), with the final table then testing its combatants with 60-minute levels down to heads up play, which then ushers in 30-minute levels.
Former Champions – A Who’s Who of the Poker World
From the first time the WPT L. A. Poker Classic was held, the pros have been the dominant force at the tables. In the very first LAPC, Gus Hansen stormed to the championship over a final table that included Andy Bloch, David ‘The Dragon’ Pham and the late Bob Stupak. The second stop by the WPT at the Commerce Casino saw the field nearly triple in size as Antonio Esfandiari used the LAPC as his “coming out” party in winning the title over Vinnie Vinh.
In the 2005 (Season 3) stop, it was Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi’s time for his debut. Defeating a final table that included Harley Hall, Erick Lindgren, Ted Forrest, Hung La and Haralabos Voulgaris, Mizrachi stormed to his first major title and breakout success. While the nearly $2 million that Mizrachi won that year was pretty impressive, the best two seasons of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic were yet to come.
In 2006, Alan Goehring made his second trip to the WPT Winner’s Circle (he won the WPT World Championship in 2003) and scooped up what was, at that time, the biggest prize ever on the WPT of $2,391,550. The next year, Eric Hershler beat that in winning $2,429,970 after defeating J. C. Tran heads up to take the title and the “Bronco Buster” Remington statuette awarded to all winners during the LAPC. Phil Ivey, Cornel Cimpan, Sean Jazayeri, Chris Moorman, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Strelitz have all laid claim to the title of “L. A. Poker Classic champion,” which Dennis Blieden will try to defend this year.
The final table of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic will be delayed until March 11 (a Monday), but the final table itself will be determined on March 6. It promises to be an exciting run as one of the most respected tournament schedules in the poker world finishes off over the next week.