WPT West Coast: Tour Heads to Commerce for LAPC; Series Features Schedule for All Levels

By Sean Chaffin The World Poker Tour returns to the city of angels with the $10,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic set for March 2-6 at Commerce Casino. The event is one of the oldest events on the WPT schedule and one of the most prestigious on the tour, with players coming from not only all…

Matt Clark
Feb 6, 2019

By Sean Chaffin

Cards & Branding
The World Poker Tour returns to the city of angels with the $10,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic set for March 2-6 at Commerce Casino. The event is one of the oldest events on the WPT schedule and one of the most prestigious on the tour, with players coming from not only all over Califonia, but also around the country.

This year’s final table players will play to a winner a in Las Vegas on March 11 at HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel and Casino.

A part of the WPT since Season I, the championship event has featured some of the biggest names in poker. Gus Hansen won that first event in 2003 for $507,000 and the payout ballooned a year later, when Antonio Esfandiari took the title for $1.4 million. Other winners through the years include Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey, Chris Moorman, and Anthony Zinno. Last year in Season XVI, Dennis Blieden took home the $1 million top prize – his first cash ever on the WPT.

The LAPC has become one of the biggest festivals in poker and preliminary events in the two-month series began January 16. The series is the longest running, most successful tournament series in the Los Angeles area. What makes the LAPC such a successful event and stand out?

Justin Hammer

“Some players keep coming back every year because it’s like a tradition, but the continued growth and success of the event comes from having a staff dedicated to creating great events, great structures, and the type of experience you won’t get anywhere else,” says Justin Hammer, Commerce tournament coordinator. “We take a lot of pride in our product, and I think players appreciate that.”

Players heading out for the West Coast action can expect plenty of fun during the series with something for every bankroll. That includes low buy-ins with huge guarantees, tournaments that were actually invented at the property and thrive there, more cash tables than any casino in the world, and plenty of attention to detail in quality and customer service.

Executive Tour Director Matt Savage
Along with serving as WPT Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage also works as Tournament Director at the Commerce and he and Hammer take a special interest in putting together the schedule each year to bring players something fresh and different.

“Matt and I have been working together long enough that we can build off of each other’s ideas with fairly small effort,” Hammer says. “Building the schedule entails sitting down for hours at a time and trying to figure out what might work, and what won’t. New tournament ideas usually start with, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if somebody did a tournament where …’ and then we do it.”

This year, the series features 69 events with numerous poker variations and some events players have never seen before. Buy-ins ranging from $120 to $25,000. One interesting new addition from this year’s schedule was the new $350 Great Wall of Chips, a two-day event in which players began with 25,700 chips and featured a $250,000 guarantee. The tournament played out in late-January and attracted more than 1,700 players.

“The event I’m most excited about is the One-Day One Million Satellite event, where we’re awarding 100 seats into the $10,000 Main Event in one day,” Hammer says. “It’s a million guaranteed in one day, and at least 100 players will move on to have a chance at winning $1 million. It’s a huge gamble on our part, but it’s what the players wanted, so we’re going for it.”

Another interesting aspect of the series is the $50,000 added Player of the Series prize pool, which was approaching more than $100,000 in late-January.

“Players that are atop of the leaderboards have really only done well in one or two tournaments,” Hammer adds. “It’s still anybody’s game, and worth taking a shot at if you’re coming out for a week or so.”

And the trophy? The Commerce offers one of the classiest trophies in poker. The property is known for its great trophies including the LAPC’s Remingtons, based on one of artist Frederic Remington’s first pieces called “Bronco Buster,” a real piece of Americana. Adding a Remington becomes quite an addition to any trophy case.

Last year, the LAPC celebrated its 25th anniversary and has continued to grow as poker has. Players continue flocking to the property for a shot at plenty of fun and big money as well. The Commerce features a top-notch hotel stay and dining options, a racebook, spa, and plenty of poker promotions.

“Poker is constantly evolving, and we try to stay ahead of that,” Hammer says. “There are more events now than there were in the beginning. There are more chips and longer levels. We are now strictly big blind ante for all No Limit Hold’em events as well. One thing that has stayed the same is that Commerce puts on the best Series in L.A. by far and plans to continue doing so for years to come.”

For more on the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, click here. For the championship event structure sheet, click here, and for a complete schedule of events, click here.

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.