Some of the world’s best poker players gathered at the Commerce Casino for the L.A. Poker Classic this past week. With a buy-in of $10,000, 665 participants created a huge $6,374,400 prize pool with $1,596,100 for first place. After five days of No-Limit Holdem and hundreds of busts, the 6-handed final table was finally determined late Wednesday night. My article today will focus exclusively on this very interesting final table.
Two of the world’s famous players sat at tonight’s final table, and they both shared the same name: Phil. Phil Ivey started the night with an impressive chip lead, and Phil Hellmuth sat directly to his right with a third place chip stack. The most interesting thing to know about these two players is that both of them were looking for their first WPT title. It’s hard to believe that between the two of them they had earned over $17.85 million in live poker events, but none of those winnings included a WPT first place finish (this is despite 7 WPT final tables for Ivey and 3 for Hellmuth). Would tonight change that and add another major accomplishment to one of their (already impressive) resumes?
Ivey and Hellmuth weren’t the only big names at the table, however. Here’s a list of the players at the final table, including their seats and chip stacks:
Seat 1 – Quinn Do – 1,450,000 chips
Seat 2 – Nam Le – 1,180,000 chips
Seat 3 – Phil Hellmuth – 2,380,000 chips
Seat 4 – Phil Ivey – 4,100,000 chips
Seat 5 – Charles “Woody” Moore – 1,510,000 chips
Seat 6 – Scott “r_a_y” Montgomery – 2,680,000 chips
The blinds started at 40,000/80,000 with a 10,000 ante.
Ivey gave the chip lead away during the very first hand of this televised final table in a blind versus blind situation. He raised A9o from the small blind and Moore pushed over with AKo. After over five minutes of hard thinking (which was accompanied by almost complete silence from both the audience and the players at the table), Ivey finally convinced himself to make a call, and unfortunately for him, the best hand held up. Moore took the chip lead and Ivey fell to tied for second in chips.
The next big hand occurred at 50,000/100,000 blinds (same ante), and it was another blind versus blind situation. Le completed his SB with K3s and Hellmuth checked with J8o. The flop came J63 and Le bet 140,000 with bottom pair; Hellmuth thought for a few seconds before calling. The turn was, to Le’s delight, a king, and he continued firing with a bet of 350,000. Hellmuth made the wrong move at the wrong time and announced all in, and Le insta-called. “I can’t believe you caught a king,” Hellmuth said in his usual demeaning fashion (I’m not sure why I love him so much) as the final community card failed to help him and Le doubled up. Hellmuth immediately left the table to walk around and “cool off” a bit.
Things didn’t get better for Hellmuth. Doubling Le up left him with barely 10bb, and he couldn’t find a way to chip back up. After a bit of heckling from the crowd and a couple sarcastic comments to the announcers, he finally made his move and pushed A9o on the cutoff. Unfortunately for him, Moore showed up with AQo in the small blind, and his hand help up to eliminate Hellmuth in 6th place (much to my disappointment). While a 6th place finish must have been disappointing for the self-proclaimed greatest player in the world, Hellmuth still made history with his $229,820 prize by crossing the $10 million mark in career tournament earnings. Even a Hellmuth-hater would have to admit that that is mighty impressive.
The all-ins continued and Do was the next player to double up. This time Montgomery was the victim: he raised A5o on the button and made a correct call when Do 3 bet him all in with QJo. Do was only slightly behind, however, and he spiked his queen to double his stack.
Large post flop pots have been few and far between, but Moore managed to win a big one off Le right before the next blind increase (which would be to 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante). The hand started with Le raising his cutoff and Moore defending his small blind by 3-betting. Le called and Moore consequently checked in the dark as the flop fell. Le bet into a T94 flop, and after thinking for over a minute, Moore raised to 1 million chips. This time it was Le’s turn to think, and he tanked for over three minutes before starting to fold his cards. As he did this, however, Moore jumped out of his seat and a friend of Moore’s let out a premature cheer. This caused Le to delay his fold, but after another minute, he finally mucked, and Moore raked an impressive 2.15 million chips.
[In case you’re wondering why I didn’t write about any hole cards that hand, it’s because I simply don’t know what they were. WPT will televise them at a later date, but until then, I only know hole cards when the hands go to show down.]
The new blind level brought another double-up for Do, and it was at Montgomery’s expense again. Do called Montgomery’s raise while in the big blind with J4s, and he checked behind with a flopped flush draw (mmm free cards). Montgomery made his move at the wrong time when the turn brought Do’s flush; he bet, and Do only called. Do’s trap worked: Montgomery pushed on the river, and Do immediately called with the best hand. Montgomery mucked his cards without showing, so you’re going to have to wait until this event is televised to find out what he was bluffing with!
Here’s some updated chip stacks at this point:
Seat 1 – Quinn Do – 3,180,000 chips
Seat 2 – Nam Le – 1,210,000 chips
Seat 4 – Phil Ivey – 2,640,000 chips
Seat 5 – Woody Moore – 5,920,000 chips
Seat 6 – Scott Montgomery – 350,000 chips
Montgomery was in a precarious situation with the bb at 120,000 and the ante alone at 20,000, so he made a good push UTG with J9o two hands after doubling Do up. He beat Moore’s A6o and doubled up to 820,000 chips. His comeback didn’t last long, however. The very next hand he pushed over Le’s raise in the CO from the BB with absolutely no fold equity while holding J8o (maybe he just likes that hand), and Le called with KJs. The best hand held, and Montgomery went home with $296,860 for fifth place.
Previous to Montgomery’s bust, Ivey had been uncharacteristically quiet at this final table. Reducing the table to four seemed to turn him on, however, and he started to chip up shortly after Montgomery’s departure. Do also doubled up shortly afterwards through Moore, outflopping Moore’s A5s with his K9s (same suits) and getting it all in on a 952 flop.
Updated chip stacks after a lot of boring hands without show downs:
Seat 1 – Quinn Do – 2,900,000 chips
Seat 2 – Nam Le – 1,460,000 chips
Seat 4 – Phil Ivey – 7,180,000 chips
Seat 5 – Woody Moore – 1,760,000 chips
Blinds were 80,000/160,000 with a 20,000 ante at this point. Ivey had the table absolutely dominated chip-wise, while both Le and Moore sat with extremely uncomfortable chip stacks. Ivey got his stack by winning many small and medium pots without show downs; he truly was dominating the table 4-handed.
Even great players get lucky every so often, though. Ivey is no exception, and he showed this by beating Le’s AA with 33, Le all-in for his tournament life before the flop. Ivey hit his two-outer on the turn and Le was eliminated by this bad beat in fourth place for $411,770.
Moore busted during the very next hand, further increasing Ivey’s already ridiculously large chip lead. Ivey completed his small blind with 87o and Moore checked his 62o, and the flop came 852. Ivey bet his flopped top pair, and Moore called with bottom pair. The turn came 7 giving Ivey two pairs; he bet, Moore shoved with his open ended straight draw, and Ivey quickly called. Moore couldn’t improve and he busted in third place, good for $625,630.
Ivey sported an impressive 4 to 1 chip lead over Do going into heads-up, and they only got to play two hands before it was over. In the final hand of the championship, Do limp/called with 98s and then called Ivey’s continuation bet on a A86 flop. An ace on the turn caused Ivey to go all-in, and after tanking for four minutes, Do finally called. He had the second best hand, however, for Ivey had A8o and a full house. The river couldn’t help him, and Do was eliminated in second place, winning almost a million dollars as a consolation prize ($909,400).
Congratulations to Phil Ivey for winning his first WPT championship. With a first place win, he took home an impressive $1,596,100, plus a big Commerce trophy. Holding the record for the most WPT final tables made, it was clear that Ivey was well overdue for a win. The first prize increased his career tournament winnings to $8,742,652, and his excellent final table performance made it clear that he truly is one of the world’s greatest poker players.
Thanks for reading another one of my lengthy tournament reports, see you again on Tuesday!