By Sean Chaffin
Poker players will be saying “Hooray for Hollywood” when the $10,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic kicks off on February 29 with the final table playing out on April 2 at HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor. The annual mega-poker festival at Commerce Casino also offers plenty of other action beyond just the championship event.
“It’s the only charter member casino on the World Poker Tour along with Bellagio [and the Bicycle Casino],” WPT executive tournament director Matt Savage says. “Some of the greatest winners in WPT history have come from the LAPC including Antonio Esfandiari, Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey, Alan Goehring, Chris Moorman, and David Baker.”
Freezeout Format with a Big Payday
Many rounders will be looking to add their names to that illustrious list. Players looking for a high-stakes freezeout event are in luck at the LAPC. It’s the only one on the WPT schedule. There are no re-entries, but a stacked schedule of events is also available for players looking for action.
Last season, it was Baker taking the WPT title for just over $1 million after topping a field of 546 players. A Commerce regular, he was thrilled to win the event at the casino where he spends much of the year playing poker.
“It kind of sounds corny, but it really means so much to me,” he said after his win. “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.”
That became one of the first events to feature a final table played out at HyperX in Las Vegas. The process will repeat again this year with the action in Sin City filmed for broadcast, and Savage believes it has added something extra to the event.
“I think the first year went amazingly well and this year will be even better,” Savage says. “It’s impossible for those that made it last year not to feel special with the surroundings and the theatrics the WPT provided.”
Another memorable moment at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic came in Season VI when Ivey notched his first WPT title at the LAPC. He topped a field of 665 players to win $1.6 million and came through with a win after seven other final table appearances.
“[The monkey on my back] has lifted finally,” he said after the win. “It was just really frustrating. Seven other times I made it. The first couple times I didn’t play very well just because of my inexperience.
“I just decided I was going to really bear down and give myself the maximum chance of winning. I just took my time and chopped out a little – a little finagling, a little luck.”
Those in the field will be hoping to grab their own Hollywood spotlight this season.
What to Expect from the Series
The LAPC is already underway and actually kicked off in mid-January. The series features numerous buy-in levels and poker variants. Organizers try to offer new and unique events each year.
Savage was quick to highlight this year’s David Baker Game of THROES as an example of that. Mixed game fans will want to get in on this $2,140 event, set for March 3. The L.A. Poker Classic will also feature two $25,000 events, which are eligible for the Poker Central High Roller Player of the Year standings.
A new $570 buy-in 40/40/40 event is also an interesting addition to the schedule and features 40-minute levels and a 40,000 starting stack. The event promises, fittingly, a guarantee of $404,040. The LAPC also packs in satellite winners for the WPT Championship event. That should continue this season with numerous opportunities to get in the main event for a bargain price.
“Players can expect the biggest amount of satellite and promotional winners in any field on the WPT,” Savage says, “and also one of most prestigious events in poker.”
A few other highlights on the schedule include:
$1,100 NLHE $1 Million – This event is set for February 19 and features a guarantee of a cool million bucks.
$1,600 NLHE Bounty Championship – Jump in the bounty fun February 23 with a $100,000 guarantee.
$1,100 NLHE – Another big event with a $100,000 guarantee. Action gets underway on February 25.
It should be another great trip to the Commerce with so many events and another shot at seven figures for the WPT champion.
“In my 10th year at LAPC I’m happy to call the Commerce and the world’s largest poker casino home once again,” Savage says. “I look to having another millionaire crowned in our WPT main event.”
For more information on the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, click here. For a complete LAPC schedule of events, click here.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.