Posts Tagged ‘2018’

2018 WPT Rolling Thunder Day 1A: 132 Runners Come Out, Sean Marshall Holds Early Lead

 2018 WPT Rolling Thunder Day 1A: 132 Runners Come Out, Sean Marshall Holds Early Lead

Coming right on the heels of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic, the WPT Rolling Thunder kicked off action on Friday for the next WPT event. Located outside of Sacramento, the WPT Rolling Thunder has become one of the popular stops on the WPT circuit and, if Day 1A is any indication, the $ 3500 buy-in tournament is still a favorite of the players.

The newly redecorated and expanded poker room at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort was ready for action at noon on Friday and the players didn’t disappoint. For their $ 3500 buy-in, the players would receive a stack of 30,000 in chips and, should they be eliminated in the first Day One, would be able to re-enter once on Friday. If they shot both of those bullets off, then they could come back on Saturday and have the same two-shot option. If those four options didn’t work for players, then they could buy-in one more time before the start of Day 2, meaning that players (if really unlucky) could enter as many as five times ($ 17,500) if they so desired.

Defending champion Mike Del Vecchio led the professionals in the field to the line as Day 1A began. Del Vecchio was joined by other WPT Champions Club members such as Tyler Patterson, Daniel Strelitz and three-time champion Darren Elias. There was also a strong contingent of pros looking for their first WPT title, including Ari Engel, Eddy Sabat, Blair Hinkle, Amir Lehavot and Zachary Gruneberg.

After Level 2, 67 entries were already in the kitty as other pros began to stake out their patch of felt in the Thunder Valley poker room. Kathy Liebert, Darren Rabinowitz, Allen Kessler, Matt Salsberg and Jared Griener were among those players as the halfway mark of the first eight levels of play were reached. And the players continued to quietly stroll into the event, with 111 entries into the tournament at this same mark.

Although it was relatively quiet, contenders rose to the top of the standings around this point. In what would eventually become a pot that would crown the chip leader, Sean Yu was able to get his final chips in the center. He was met by a call from Sean Marshall and William Murray, who saw a J-10-8 and had the opportunity to bet into a dry side pot. Marshall took this opportunity, but Murray wasn’t ready to let it go yet and made the call. A five on the turn brought about the same action – a bet from Marshall, a call from Murray – but the river six opened several options and shut down action from both men.

When the cards were turned up, it became evident that Marshall had survived a run through the gauntlet. His K-J off suit had caught on the flop and dodged the straight outs of both Murray (K-Q) and Yu (9-8) to take the hand. With those chips, Marshall improved to 143,000 in chips, knocked Murray down to only 51K and sent Yu out of the tournament.

While Marshall was cruising to the end of day chip lead, others would have to take their chances (perhaps) on Saturday. Liebert, Engel, Curt Kohlberg and WPT DeepStacks Player of the Year Rex Clinkscales all were eliminated on Friday and have the option of returning on Saturday. One player who won’t be returning on Saturday is Marshall, who powered his way to the chip lead by the time the final hand was dealt on Friday.

1. Sean Marshall, 142,100
2. Eddy Sabat, 140,400
3. Matt Salsberg, 139,200
4. Ping Liu, 130,100
5. Jesse Rockowitz, 126,200
6. Joseph Alban, 122,000
7. Glenn Larson, 100,100
8. Jared Greiner, 93,900
9. Brian Green, 89,600
10. Gauran Raina, 88,000

Of the 132 entries received on Day 1A, 71 players came through the carnage. This number is expected to increase tremendously on Saturday as the newly redesigned Thunder Valley poker room can handle a large throng of players. According to WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage, the Thunder Valley poker room “could host 1000 players” and he would like to see this event crack its record of 465 from Season XII. That would mean that another 333 entries would have to come out between now and the start of Day 2 on Sunday, a number that isn’t out of the realm of possibilities for the 2018 WPT Rolling Thunder.

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2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Final Table Set

 2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Final Table Set

The six-handed final table of the World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic was determined Wednesday evening, with Toby Lewis finishing the day as the chip leader. It is really a two man show going into Thursday’s action, as Lewis has 5.390 million chips and Dennis Blieden has 4.125 million. None of the other four players have more than 1.7 million chips. Everyone is guaranteed at least $ 186,235 at this point, but they all have their sights set on the $ 1 million first prize.

The two chip leaders could have been in reversed positions had it not been for the final two hands of the night. On the penultimate hand, according to the hand history, Blieden raised pre-flop to 60,000 chips. Lewis called, Greg Paryani called, and Marc Macdonnell called. The four saw a flop of K-7-7 and all checked to bring on the turn of K. It checked to Blieden, who bet 105,000. Only Macdonnell made the call. The river card was a 2 and Macdonnell checked to Blieden, who bet 400,000. Macdonnell tanked, using two time extension chips in the process, and then finally decided to look Blieden up.

It was a great call by Macdonnell, as Blieden had just T-2, which meant he was playing the two pair on the board and using his Ten as a kicker. Macdonnell had 8-8, giving him a better two pair.

On the next hand, which would be the last one of the night, Lewis limped pre-flop for 30,000, Paryani called, and Blieden checked in the big blind. The flop was Q-9-8 and Blieden checked, Lewis bet 65,000, Paryani raised to 180,000, and Blieden got out of the way. Lewis then went over the top all-in and Paryani called all-in for 780,000 chips.

Lewis had Q-9 for top two pair, but was behind Paryani’s set of 8’s. The turn was a King and the river was an Ace, though, giving Lewis a runner-runner straight and eliminating Paryani in seventh place on the edge of the televised final table.

This is Toby Lewis’ third World Poker Tour final table. He previous finished sixth in the 2013 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event and fourth in the 2014 partypoker WPT Merit Classic North Cyprus Main Event. He is coming off a massive victory in January’s Aussie Millions Main Event, where he won $ 1,178,513. Lewis also has a European Poker Tour title and nearly $ 4.4 million in live tournament earnings.

This is also the third WPT final table for Derek Wolters, who is currently fourth in chips with 1.520 million.

The WPT L.A. Poker Classic televised final table will commence at 4:00pm PST Thursday. The live stream will be on a 30-minute delay and will begin, accordingly, at 4:30pm.

2018 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Final Table Chip Counts

1. Toby Lewis – 5,390,000
2. Dennis Blieden – 4,125,000
3. Marc Macdonnell – 1,695,000
4. Derek Wolters – 1,520,000
5. Peter Hengsakul – 1,065,000
6. Manuel Martinez – 985,000

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2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 3 – Jeremy White Out in Front, Phil Hellmuth 10th

 2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 3 – Jeremy White Out in Front, Phil Hellmuth 10th

The field at the World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic Main Event was whittled from 102 to 31 on Monday as the money bubble burst. Jeremy White is the chip leader with 1.552 million chips, giving him a sizable advantage over the field, as the closest competitor, Manuel Martinez, has 1.035. They are the only two players with more than 1 million chips.

White told that it helped to be a big stack at his table most of the day, as he was able to swing his chip towers (figuratively) like a cudgel.

“Having chips is obviously a big advantage,” White said. “Just like today, there weren’t many people with chips at my table, and I was really able to put them to the test. So I will try to do the same thing tomorrow.”

This is already the second-largest cash of White’s career. According to, he has four live tournament cashes totaling just over $ 71,000. Most of that came from a $ 50,000 score in a World Series of Poker Circuit event in October. Should he be the first eliminated on Tuesday (which he probably won’t be), he would earn $ 27,830. The next pay increase will happen with the 25th place elimination.

White went on a tear late, leaving wreckage all around him at his table. As early evening became night, he eliminated Frank Lin in 41st place. After White raised pre-flop, Lin moved all-in for 110,000 chips with pocket Aces. This being poker, White had pocket Sevens and was able to spike a Seven on the river to take out Lin.

Right after that, Kristina Holst was all-in pre-flop was A-Q and White called with pocket Sixes. Holst was unable to improve and she was gone in 40th place.

Then, just a short time later, White took care of a man we all know has an idea of how to navigate the end game of major tournaments. According to, Tan Nguyen raised pre-flop, 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Joe McKeehen called, White called, and Udaid Habib called. The four saw a flop of A-9-7 and it was checked around to Nguyen, who led out with a bet. McKeehen called, but then White, perhaps wanting to throw his weight around, raised all-in, having everyone covered. Habib and Nguyen folded, but after some thought, McKeehen called for 115,000 chips. He had A-J for top pair, while it looks like White probably had A-Q for top pair with a better kicker – it was unclear from the WPT report. But since the Queen on the turn gave White “a winning two pair,” it does seem like A-Q were his hole cards, as that made the river meaningless. The 2015 WSOP champ was out in 37th place.

Also of note is the presence of Phil Hellmuth in the top ten. Hellmuth, though he has won a record 14 WSOP bracelets, has never won a World Poker Tour title.

2018 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Day 3 Chip Leaders

1. Jeremy White – 1,552,000
2. Manuel Martinez – 1,035,000
3. Dennis Blieden – 907,000
4. Chance Kornuth – 715,000
5. Toby Lewis – 670,000
6. Mark Briggs – 666,000
7. Benjamin Zamani – 650,000
8. John Misirian – 600,000
9. Victor Crisostomo – 591,000
10. Phil Hellmuth – 566,000

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2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 2 – Kimbo Ung Tops Pack Leader Board

 2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 2 – Kimbo Ung Tops Pack Leader Board

Barely more than 100 players remain of the original 493 after Day 2 of the World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic. It should be a tense day, as 62 players get paid and there will be plenty of short stacks just trying to stay alive while the big stacks work on accumulating chips.

The race at the top is extremely tight, which is not something we frequently see at this stage in a major tournament. There is often one player who pulls ahead at this point (and often drops down later); sometimes two players form their own mini peloton. But in this case, the top FOUR players are within 10,000 chips of each other and another three are not too far behind.

Kimbo Ung is the chip leader with 379,400 chips, but hot on his heels are Chance Kornuth (374,400), Dennis Blieden (370,500), and John Misirian (370,000). In the fifth spot is Tan Nguyen with 350,000 and then, after a bit of a gap, are Marc Macdonnell with 333,200 and Toby Lewis with 315,300. Seven players with more than 300,000 chips. Should be a fun day at the top and bottom of the standings.

Ung, who won his seat in a $ 1,100 satellite, told at the end of the day that he didn’t really do anything special to get to that position.

“I just gradually built, the same thing yesterday and today. I just keep chipping up. I’ve lost a few pots here and there. I lost a big pot at the end, I would have had 500,000 if I didn’t lose that pot,” he said. “I didn’t have any good hands at all, I just kept playing the suited connectors and building up little by little.”

The hand to which Ung referred appears to be the last one that reported for Day 2. The site caught up with the action on the flop with the board reading J♣-9-2♠. There was about 40,000 already in the pot and Ung raised a 17,500 chip bet to 38,000. Kornuth thought about it and re-raised to 77,200. Ung then tanked for a couple minutes before finally folding. Kornuth showed 6♣-7♣.

As mentioned, there were 493 entries in the $ 9,500 + $ 500 tournament, creating a prize pool of almost $ 4.7 million. $ 1 million will be awarded to the winner, which was the guaranteed first prize. Payouts go down to 62nd place; the min-cash is $ 16,640.

According to, Kimbo Ung has but two live tournament cashes, which is double the number that this writer has (and mine isn’t even recorded on One is for just $ 585, but the other is a sweet $ 125,901 cash for winning the 2010 Heartland Poker Tour Las Vegas Main Event. Thus, any sort of cash will be significant to Ung relative to his career earnings.

2018 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Kimbo Ung – 379,400
2. Chance Kornuth – 374,400
3. Dennis Blieden – 370,500
4. John Misirian – 370,000
5. Tan Nguyen – 350,000
6. Marc Macdonnell – 333,200
7. Toby Lewis – 315,300
8. Jean Gaspard – 298,000
9. Manuel Martinez – 276,500
10. Sam Sanusi – 254,500

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2018 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day 1 – John Misirian Snatches Day 1 Chip Lead in Final Hand Knockout

 2018 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day 1 – John Misirian Snatches Day 1 Chip Lead in Final Hand Knockout

Day 1 is in the books for the 2018 version of the World Poker Tour’s L. A. Poker Classic and it is shaping up to be a special event. One of only three tournaments that has been contested on the WPT since its inception, the players have come out with their $ 10,000 buy-in (which has also been consistent since the start of the event) to put together a strong field. At the end of Day 1, John Misirian was able to stand atop the mountain after a last hand knockout gave him the lead.

The atmosphere at the Commerce Casino was festive – even at the early hour of noon – as the players gathered for the call of “shuffle up and deal.” With the singular buy-in and no rebuys, it was expected that there would be a slow stream of players coming after the starting gun, but the numbers from the start were surprising. As the cards hit the air, 282 players were waiting to receive them and it simply got better from there.

With 30,000 in chips to start the event, you would expect there to be a slow grind, but Ari Engel demonstrated the exact opposite. Within 75 minutes of the opening action, Engel had burned through those 30K in markers, with his final chips entering the fray against Felipe Davila. On a K-9-8-4 board, Engel called off his last 4300 in chips and tabled K-5 for top pair. That wasn’t good enough, however, as Davila had the goods with pocket Aces; the river Queen wasn’t the paint that Engel needed as he beat a hasty retreat to the exits of the Commerce.

A similar situation would occur at another table, with former WPT champion Jared Jaffee the unlikely victim. Canadian pro Noah Vaillancourt was a late arrival and, upon getting dealt in, mistakenly put out a large 4000 chip bet (blinds were 75/150 at the time) from under the gun. Nobody was interested in tangling with Vaillancourt until action came to Jaffee on the button, who three bet the action to 11K. Once the blinds were out of the way, Vaillancourt indicated he was ready to go home just as quickly as he arrived, placing his entire 30K up on his first hand. Jaffee made the call and the race was on:

Vaillancourt – A-K
Jaffee – pocket Queens

To make a long story short, an Ace came on the board to provide salvation for Vaillancourt. At the same time, it sent the former WPT champion Jaffee home after only two hours of play.

By the time Level 5 started late in the afternoon, 462 players were entered in the tournament. Of that number, 413 were still around with a shot at winning one of the most prestigious titles on the WPT circuit. With three more levels left in the Day 1 action, there was still time for players to enter the tournament, but it was beginning to run short.

As the final hours of the opening day wore on, there were other top pros who wouldn’t earn the right to come back on Sunday for action. Ryan Hughes, WPT Champions Club member Mike Shariatti, Adam Geyer and Blake Battaglia would all find the rail by the time the final hand was dealt. It was that final hand, however, that gave the chip leader his lead.

Misirian had dodged a bullet only a few hands earlier when, on the river with pocket Queens against Roman Korenev’s pocket Aces, he was able to pull one of the two ladies left in the deck to rocket into the chip lead. Sitting on a very healthy stack, Misirian wasn’t content on cruising to the end, though, as he went to war against Sean Winter in the last hand of the evening. With pocket Queens, Misirian was able to dodge the flush draw of Winter and knock him out, setting Misirian up well for Day 2 action.

1. John Misirian, 234,300
2. Toby Lewis, 149,000
3. Adam Regiaba, 145,000
4. Peter Hengsakul, 129,900
5. Derek Gregory, 126,900
6. Candie Vaca, 124,900
7. Tim Cramer, 123,100
8. Casey McCarrel, 120,900
9. Lloyd, Mandel, 120,000
10. Duy Ho, 118,000

475 players were on the clock at the close of Day 1 action (and 282 were still alive), but that isn’t the final field. Late registration is open until the end of Level 10, meaning there’s still a great chance for the final numbers to crack the 500-player level (last year’s event drew in 521 players). But there’s a long way to go before any discussion can be made about what the prize pool will be for the 2018 WPT L. A. Poker Classic.

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