WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Finally Won by Andrew Cimpan

Andrew Cimpan
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By Jennifer Newell It’s not the Bahamas or a beautiful European destination; it’s Commerce, California, an industrial area of Los Angeles that boasts of an outlet mall and a card room. But people travel from the world over to play in the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce each year. And when the World Poker Tour rolls into the casino to host the main event, one never knows how many people will plunk down $10K to enter it. This year, after a very healthy showing in the preliminary events, largely due to the presence of tournament director Matt Savage, the number of players in the NLHE main event was the second highest ever. The 696 registrants made it another resoundingly successful year, with a massive prize pool and $1,686,760 first prize on the line, not to mention a coveted WPT title. Amongst those 696 players on Day 1 were so many familiar faces and names that it was tough for reporters to track them all until the field thinned. Phil Ivey was there to defend his title, Daniel Negreanu was there at the insistence of his hospitalized mother, and the player list included names like Hellmuth, Harman, Ferguson, Greenstein, Lindgren, and Corkins, to name a small few. As the day progressed, Negreanu rose to the top but had to settle for second place on the leaderboard with his 128K, as KC Nam had taken over the top spot with 141K. Jeff Madsen was in third place with 112,500, followed by Bertrand Grospellier, Danny Wong, Nick Schulman, Phil Ivey, Kofi Farkye, David Chiu, and Steve Paul-Ambrose. More than 400 players returned on Day 2, but only 167 survived it. Some of the previous day’s chip leaders had fallen out of the tournament completely, though Farkye stayed high on the list, even rising to second place with 391K when the day was done. But Antonio Esfandiari was the leader with 405K, and the rest of the top five behind Farkye were Mike Sowers, Anthony Venturini, and Haralabos Voulgaris. The goal of Day 3 was to play to the money, and it just barely happened. While players like Esfandiari took leave of the tournament midday, it was into the evening hours that David Daneshgar resolved himself to being the bubble boy. He attempted to go all-in at the end but found himself winning enough chips to sit with a meager 4K and have to come back the following day. The bubble player ended up being Patrick Stemper, who finished in 64th place, leaving Farkye to lead the remaining 63 players into the money and Day 4. Farkye sat with 837,500 chips, and the rest of the top five included Mike Sowers, Donnie D’Auria, Jeremy Kottler, and Chris Karagulleyan. Day 4 found the following notable players hitting the rail with a little extra cash in their pockets: 63rd - David Daneshgar 62nd - Paul Darden 50th - David Pham 49th - Nick Binger 43rd - Maria Ho 42nd - Nenad Medic 37th - Erica Schoenberg 32nd - Bertrand Grospellier 28th - Paul Wasicka 26th - Hoyt Corkins Among those who ended their days was Kofi Farkye, who lost most of his chips to Chris Ferguson, the player who ended the day in the lead and left Farkye to exit in the money but with no final table. With the elimination of Nancy Todd Tyner in 21st place, the tournament wrapped for the day with Ferguson and his 1,721,000 chips, followed by Payman Arjang, Chris Karagulleyan, Xuan Nguyen, and Binh Nguyen. Day 5 was a long one, with players not wanting to leave the tournament, though finally, players like Nick Schulman had to accept 17th place, Teddy Monroe 16th place, and Peter Feldman 14th. When only seven players remained, it was finally Blake Cahail who made the all-in move with ah kh, but Chris Karagulleyan was there with pocket kings, and the board bricked. Cahail was ousted in seventh place with $180,403, and the final table was set for the next day as follows: Seat 1: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson 1,565,000 Seat 2: Andrew Cimpan 1,740,000 Seat 3: Pat Walsh 2,200,000 Seat 4: Chris Karagulleyan 4,080,000 Seat 5: Mike "SowersUNCC" Sowers 2,405,000 Seat 6: Binh Nguyen 1,895,000 Final table play began with anything but action, but after 23 hands, Karagulleyan gave up his chip lead to Nguyen, though it was Ferguson who had the most troubles. Sowers doubled through Ferguson, which left the latter fairly short and looking to move. It happened on the 66th hand of the evening when Ferguson and Cimpan saw a ts 8d 8h flop. Cimpan made the all-in move with pocket fours, and Ferguson finally check-called all-in with ac kc. The uneventful 6c on the turn and 3c on the river ended the tournament for Chris Ferguson in sixth place, which was worth a $240,538 prize. Walsh took the roller coaster ride next, doubling through Cimpan twice and Sowers once, but the loss of a 2.35 million-chip pot to Nguyen left him at risk on the 97th hand of the night. Nguyen was the one who originally moved all-in with ah jh, but Walsh called all-in with ad 2s, and no help came on the ts td 7h 3d 5h board. Pat Walsh finished the tournament in fifth place with $310,694. Karagulleyan then saw his final fall happen when he pushed all-in with ah 9d and found Cimpan calling with qc 8c. Though it looked like a double-up opportunity, the board came ad qh tc qs 7s to knock Chris Karagulleyan out in fourth place with $430,963. Though Sowers was the chip leader going into three-handed play, he allowed Cimpan to double through him, then pushed the last of his stack all-in with pocket fours. Nguyen called with pocket queens, and the board brought nothing but jc 9h 8h js kc. Mike Sowers became the third place finisher with $654,797 for it. Heads-up action began as follows: Binh Nguyen 8,450,000 Andrew Cimpan 5,450,000 The first heads-up hand was the 117th hand of the final table, but the match wasn’t determined until the 303rd hand at approximately 2:30am Pacific time. That final hand began with Cimpan pushing all-in holding kc 5c, but Nguyen called all-in for his tournament life with ah 9d. The flop was positive for Cimpan with tc 5h 3c, giving him the pair and the audience the hope that it might finally be over. The td on the turn was harmless, and the 4s did indeed end the game. Binh Nguyen accepted a second place finish and the $935,424 that went with it. Andrew Cimpan won the tournament, which was worth $1,686,760 in prize money, along with an LAPC trophy, WPT bracelet, and entry into the April WPT World Championship. (Thanks to WPT Live Updates for specific hand and chip count information.)