Daniel Strelitz Wins the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in Dominant Fashion on his Home Turf in Southern California

Mar 3, 2017

Champion Daniel Strelitz

By Ryan Lucchesi
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive.com

Destiny definitely seemed to be in play tonight at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table, for the last few days of the tournament in fact. Daniel Strelitz didn’t quite lead the final table wire-to-wire, but he certainly dominated the final few days of this prestigious event. Strelitz was the chip leader at the end of Day 3, 4, and 5 leading into the final table tonight, and his constant aggression won him many pots uncontested as he played the role of perennial table captain.

Strelitz topped a field of 521 players to win the first million dollar cash of his career at Commerce Casino, and he topped an impressive final table that included poker professionals Jesse Martin, Jared Griener, Richard Tuhrim, Simeon Naydenov, and WPT Commentator Mike Sexton. “It’s incredible, I’m so happy to have the opportunity and the incredible run that got me here, it’s unbelievable,” said Strelitz in his interview with WPT Commentator Vince Van Patten right after the conclusion of play.

Strelitz had his father on hand to watch most of his tournament run, and his family and friends were on his final-table rail tonight. The 27-year-old poker professional currently lives in nearby Orange, California, and his hometown of Torrance is also down here in Southern California. “It’s great, I’m so happy that my entire family and my in-laws were here. It’s unbelievable, my Dad starting at the beginning of Day 2 he was there, and he saw every single hand that I played until now when I won. From Day 2! It’s a six-day tournament! His dedication is unbelievable. I can’t believe it, he’s a crazy person, but I appreciate it so much,” said Strelitz.

Here is a look at the chip counts at the start of play at the final table.

Seat 1.  Mike Sexton  –  1,165,000  (39 bb)
Seat 2.  Jesse Martin  –  2,540,000  (85 bb)
Seat 3.  Jared Griener  –  1,895,000  (63 bb)
Seat 4.  Daniel Strelitz  –  6,485,000  (216 bb)
Seat 5.  Simeon Naydenov  –  2,860,000  (95 bb)
Seat 6.  Richard Tuhrim  –  680,000  (23 bb)

It didn’t take too long for short stack Richard Tuhrim to get all of his chips into the middle after the start of play tonight. He shoved with ace-seven on the seventh hand of play, but Daniel Strelitz called with king-queen and he spiked a king on the river. Tuhrim was eliminated in sixth place, good for $191,490. “It’s been a great run, and you know I’m thankful for the opportunity. Obviously had to win some big pots and get lucky to even be here. This one didn’t go my way, but I was shortest in chips anyway. But there’s always other tournaments and cash games,” said Tuhrim during his exit interview.

Play continued past the first break before Jared Griener scored the first double of the evening, and Mike Sexton survived in a dramatic chopped pot to keep the final table five-handed until Hand 65. That was when Jesse Martin moved all in with queen-six, but Jared Griener had him covered with pocket eights in the hole and they held to eliminate Martin in fifth place, good for $230,380.

The next elimination was the one that many in the room did not want to see. On the 78th hand of play, Sexton moved all in with pocket kings, but Strelitz held ace-seven, and the hand improved to make a full house. Sexton was out in fourth place, good for $300,690. The finish did move Sexton into second place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings. “It was very nice, and it’s thrilling to get to a final table. And as you said, I could have gone out in fifth place, I could have gone out in sixth. Ironically, I had two kings twice against [Strelitz], he had ace-seven offsuit both times, and he beat me both times. That’s pretty unusual, just shows you I think destiny is on his side,” said Sexton after the hand. When asked if he was going to jump back into the WPT Commentator Booth, Sexton added, “No, I’m not going back to work. Tony [Dunst] can do it! I’m taking the night off, I’m going to the bar!”

Naydenov then doubled thru Strelitz, and the two players took turns stealing the chip count from each other during an extended period of three-handed play. It wasn’t until the 143rd hand of play that Griener put the last of his chips at risk. He shoved with ace-queen, but Naydenov called with pocket eights that improved to make a set. Griener hit the rail in third place, good for $431,340. “It’s unbelievable, I’ve lived here in Southern California for seven or eight years, so I’ve made a lot of good friends. A couple of my best friends and business partners are here, so it’s really great to have them here, and have their support. I’m supper happy,” said Griener, who had a large rail supporting him at the final table.

That set up a heads-up match between Naydenov (8,475,000) and Strelitz (7,150,000). Strelitz quickly took the lead and started to pull away with his continued aggression. On the final hand, Strelitz raised to 260,000, and Naydenov called. The flop came Qs7c6s, Naydenov checked, Strelitz bet 325,000, and Naydenov check-raised to 975,000. Strelitz thought for about 20 seconds before he called.

The turn card was the 8h, Naydenov checked, Strelitz bet 1,350,000, and Naydenov thought for about 30 seconds before he moved all in for 3,860,000. Strelitz snap-called with 5h4s for an eight-high straight, and Naydenov turned over KcQd for a pair of queens. Naydenov is drawing dead. The meaningless river card was the 4d, and Strelitz won the pot — and the WPT title — with an eight-high straight. Naydenov finisheed as the runner-up, earning $672,190.

Strelitz won the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, earning $1,001,110, which includes his $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Strelitz also received a WPT Champions Trophy, an L.A. Poker Classic Remington trophy, a Hublot King Power Unico Carbon and Red watch, and a pair of Rose Gold Wireless Over-Ear Element Headphones from Monster. Strelitz’s name will be inscribed on the one-and-only WPT Champions Cup, alongside every WPT champion from all 15 seasons.

Final Table Results

1st:  Daniel Strelitz – $1,001,110*
2nd: Simeon Naydenov – $672,190
3rd:  Jared Griener – $431,340
4th:  Mike Sexton – $300,690
5th:  Jesse Martin – $230,380
6th:  Richard Tuhrim – $191,490

* First-prize amount includes the winner’s $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

Interview with WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion Daniel Strelitz

On his feelings after winning the tournament: “I feel amazing, it’s really unbelievable, this is crazy. Me making this run just feels so good, especially since I’ve been living in SoCal my whole life. This is the biggest tournament you can win in SoCal, and to just win it is unbelievable.”

On playing with the chip lead for so many days: “It was really intense. On Day 1 I was fourth in chips, and Day 2 I was like fourth in chips. And then I think on Day 3, 4, 5, and 6 I was chip leader. It was pretty crazy, and it put a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I needed to win because I had so many chips.”

On feeling any pressure: “Actually I was really calm, actually my Mom was freaking out more and it was kind of annoying me. I had my friend Niall Farrell, who’s a WPT champion tell me, ‘You’re doing fine, you’re playing great, don’t worry about it.’ And that calmed me down so like whenever I even started to question things he was like, ‘No you’re doing good.”

On opening the action in a high percentage of pots: “All the factors led to me being able to open all of the pots. If everyone was even-stacked, I would probably open more than most of them, but I wouldn’t be opening nearly as wide. But everyone was short-stacked, the pay jumps and everything, they just led me to open almost every pot, so I did.”

On winning a traditional freeze-out event: “I think freez-outs are the best. I actually dislike re-entries, and so this being a freezeout where everyone is just in their once, it’s great. That’s the way poker was, and that’s the way it should be.”

With the 2017 WPT L.A. Poker Classic now in the history books, the World Poker Tour heads north to San Jose, California to continue the WPT California Swing with the Bay 101 Shooting Star main event, a $7,500 buy-in event which runs March 6-10. Return to WPT.com for live coverage of this and all main tour WPT events.

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