Ship it to Dennis Blieden. The newest champion on the World Poker Tour needed only two hands to defeat British pro Toby Lewis heads-up for the title at the 2018 L.A. Poker Classic. The Commerce Casino on the outskirts of Los Angeles hosted the annual gathering of poker geniuses, die-hards, sharks, sketch-mongers, and other degen souls. The $10,000 buy-in attracted a decent sized field of 493 runners. Sure, it was 7 entries short of 500, but it's not to shabby in this day and age. The total prize pool topped $4.6 million with an even $1 million set aside to the champion. Only 62 lucky fools got a cut of this year's pool.
Aussie Millions champion, Toby Lewis, held the chip lead going into the final table. The British pro moved into the Top 10 in all-time winnings after his run at the LAPC. Lewis attempted to win his first major on the WPT, but he fell short of the mark. Alas, the poker gods blessed Dennis Blieden.
Late on Day 5, Greg Paryani bubbled off the final table when he busted in seventh place. Toby Lewis held the big stack, while Dennis Blieden was second in chips when the final table commenced. He was one of the two big stacks, while the other four were roughly in the same boat.
Manuel Martinez began the final table as the short stack by default. Alas, Martinez could not get anything going early on and he became the first player to go dunzo at the final table. Peter Hengsaku was also short when the final table kicked off. Like Martinez, Hengsaku could not avoid termination. He hit the road in fifth place. Ireland's Marc Macdonnell went out in fourth.
Derek Wolters busted in third place and won more than $420K. That set up a final bout between Lewis and Blieden. Unfortunate for Lewis, he was seriously outchipped. Blieden only needed two hands to knock out Lewis. The Brit banked $600K for a runner-up performance. Meanwhile, Blieden got to fondle a small mountain of cash worth $1 million.
Several familiar faces went deep and cashed in the 2018 WPT LAPC, including Phil Hellmuth who took 15th place. The living legend Billy Baxter, most known for being Stu Ungar's backer, cashed in 27th place.
Among the others who got paid out... Greg Paryani, Zachary Smiley, Garrett Greer, Benjamin Zamani, Chance Kornuth, Chase Bianchi, Josh Kay, Mike Sowers, Tan Nguyen, Mike Del Vecchio, Joe McKeehen, Andy Frankenberger, Jean Gaspard, Anthony Spinella, Eddy Sabat, and Rainer Kempe.
2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic
The LAPC doesn't pull numbers like they used to! Gus Hansen won the first WPT L.A. Poker Classic back in 2003. It was the inaugural season of the WPT and Chris Moneymaker was still an unknown accountant in Tennessee. The Great Dane crushed the SoCal competition. I dunno if anyone knew what hit them. Hansen was ahead of his time...before the field quickly caught up. Hansen only won $532K, but that was moments before the glorious poker boom exploded with Chris Moneymaker's victory a few months later.
In 2004, Antonio Esfandiari dazzled audiences with his magic tricks en route to his victory at the LAPC. Antonio Esfandiari walked away with $1.4 million, or nearly 3x more than the previous year. The Grinder shipped the LAPC in 2005 for a score worth nearly $1.9 million. The next two years marked the gravy years of American poker. Alan Goehring won the 2006 LAPC for nearly $2.4 million and Eric Hershler binked the 2007 LAPC for a little more than $2.4 million.
Oh, and remember when Phil Ivey won the LAPC? That was ten years ago. Time flies, eh? Ivey banked $1.6 million and would be the last marquee name for a couple of years until Chris Moorman won the 2014 LAPC.
WPT LAPC Champions
2018: Dennis Blieden $1,000,000
2017: Daniel Strelitz $1,001,110
2016: Dietrich Fast $1,000,800
2015: Anthony Zinno $1,015,860
2014: Chris Moorman $1,015,460
2013: Paul Klann $1,004,090
2012: Sean Jazayeri $1,370,240
2011: Gregory Brooks $1,654,120
2010: Andras Koroknai $1,788,001
2009: Cornel Andrew Cimpan $1,686,760
2008: Phil Ivey $1,596,100
2007: Eric Hershler $2,429,970
2006: Alan Goehring $2,391,550
2005: Michael 'The Grinder' Mizrachi $1,859,909
2004: Antonio Esfandiari $1,399,135
2003: Gus Hansen $532,490