The final table of the World Poker Tour stop at the Commerce Casino for the L. A. Poker Classic Main Event has been determined and it could be historic. Four-time WPT champion Darren Elias is looking to break into rarefied air and perhaps become the first five-time champion in the history of the circuit. His chances? Pretty good, as he will hold the chip lead as the players head to Las Vegas (more on this in a bit).
The Crème of the Crop
The final 12 players in the LAPC Main Event came together on Wednesday, looking to determine the six handed WPT final table. At the top of the standings was veteran poker professional David ‘ODB’ Baker, whose 4.61 million chips was leading the way. Right on his heels, however, was Elias, who sat with 3.365 million in chips. There were other WPT champions in the mix, including James Carrol, Andy Frankenberger and Tony Tran, as well as other pros including John Smith (at 72, looking to become the oldest ever champion on the WPT).
With only six eliminations to the final table, there were two routes the action could take. It would either be a rapidly paced process that would have quick carnage, or the players would fight for every chip and drag out the proceedings. It turned out to be the latter as it would take over eight hours of play for the final six players to be determined.
First was the task of eliminating down to an unofficial final table, which turned out to be the quickest act of the day. Frankenberger, who came into the battle as the short stack, was the first to go, and he was quickly followed by Tran (at the hands of Elias, who took over the lead) and Jeffrey Colpitts. Only an hour into the day’s play, the final nine players were set and the table was redrawn with the leaderboard looking as such:
Seat 1: Jean-Claude Moussa, 1.95 million
Seat 2: Mike Meskin, 450,000
Seat 3: Matas Cimbolas, 1.825 million
Seat 4: Paul Fontan, 1.1 million
Seat 5: John Smith, 880,000
Seat 6: Darren Elias, 5.485 million
Seat 7: James Carroll, 3.8 million
Seat 8: David ‘ODB’ Baker, 4.7 million
Seat 9: Steve Yea, 1.65 million
And then…the wall was hit.
Outstanding Play, But Few Eliminations
Now only needing to eliminate three players, the players demonstrated their skills and, in some cases, their good fortunes. Fontan would get a key double up, then turn around and double up Smith when Smith caught a miracle ten on the river to give him a set over Fontan’s pocket Aces. Baker would cut some chips from Elias when his K♥ four flushed a board for a big pot. But Elias wouldn’t be slowed down by his loss to Baker, knocking out Mike Meskin in ninth place when his K♠ 3♠ turned a flush against Meskin’s Q-J off suit.
After that knockout, it would be over two hours before the next combatant would leave. Fontan was active through the afternoon but, after losing several hands (including three in a row), he found himself on the short stack. He put his final hopes on an A♥ J♥ and found a dance partner in Baker and his pocket fours. Although the K-9-2 all-diamond flop had some options, the five on the turn and the ten on the river weren’t a part of the plan as Fontan was eliminated in eighth place.
Elias continued to batter the unofficial final table, cracking the nine million mark in chips as darkness fell on the Commerce. He would solidify his position at the top of the standings by administering the coup de gras to Carroll, with his K-Q holding strong over Carroll’s K-J on an eight-high board, to send the players to final table action.
Darren Elias, 9.07 million
David ‘ODB’ Baker, 4.76 million
Matas Cimbolas, 4.675 million
Jean-Claude Moussa, 1.25 million
Steve Yea, 1.205 million
John Smith, 895,000
For Better or Worse, a Delayed Final Table
Unfortunately, this is one of the “delayed” final tables that the WPT has determined is a FANTASTIC idea. Instead of watching Elias possibly march to his fifth championship in a timely fashion, the players now have to wait until March 11 to play at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas. Along with the final tables of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship (finished on January 16; play date March 12) and the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open (finished on January 31; play date March 13), the WPT L. A. Poker Classic will also have to contend with the WPT Rolling Thunder tournament, which starts tomorrow up the California coast and will play through the start of next week. The delay will be worth it for somebody, as the eventual champion of the LAPC will take home a $1,015,000 payday and a shot at the 2019 WPT Tournament of Champions.