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Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Francis Lee


The WPT (World Poker Tour) L.A Poker Classic 2009 main event kicked off with 696 players starting out all fighting to get the $1.686,260 first place prize. The field was packed with some of the more well known pro’s with the likes of  Phil Ivey, Jerry Yang, Chris Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, and Phil Hellmuth who arrive almost two hours late.  The event was scheduled to be played over five days until there was the final six players to play out the final table on the sixth day.

After the first two days play the notable players to leave the event was John Juanda, Phil Hellmuth, ,Mike Matusow and Erik Seidel. Antonio Esfandiari was the chip leader with just 167 left.  Esfandiari lost all chips through out the next day and finished up in 65th place just two places before the bubble was set to burst.  Patrick Stemper turned out to be the unfortunate bubble boy going out in 63rd place which signalled the end of day three.

The fourth day saw 43 casualties leaving Chris Fergus in first place in the chip rankings with just 20 players left.  He managed to fight his way onto the final table at the end of day five with just six players left.  The sixth place prize pay guarantees almost quarter of a million dollars payday so the stake were high. Chris Karagulleyan was the chip leader with just over $4 million in chips, but was not too far ahead of the rest of the field  The final table leader board read as follows.

Final Table Chip Rankings

  • 1st Chris Karagulleyan  $3450000
  • 2nd Binh Nguyen  $2900000
  • 3rd Mike Sowers $2680000
  • 4th Cornel Andrew Cimpan $2650000
  • 5th Chris Ferguson  $1090000
  • 6th Pat Walsh  $750000

We had to wait quite along while before the first elimination came about.  It turned out to be the one time chip leader Chris Ferguson who collected the $240,538 sixth place prize.  He didn’t have much luck in the early stages, and got the last of his chips in holding :ac :kc on a Flop showing :10s :8d :8h against Cornel Andrew Cimpan.  Cimpan was ahead tabling pocket fours which held up with the :6c and :3c completing the board.

The next player to go was Pat Walsh when his :ad :2s was dominated by Binh Nguyen’s :ah :jh The early chip leader Chris Karagulleyan was next to fall at the hands of Cimpan. He was ahead holding :ah :9s on the Flop of :10c :ad :qh against Cimpan’s :qc :8c The Turn proved decisive coming down with the :qs moving Cimpan ahead which was enough to take the pot as the :7s fell on the River.  Karagulleyan won $430,963 finishing in 4th place.

Just a few hands into three handed play Binh Nguyen called Mike Sowers All In Move with pocket queens, and found himself well head of Sowers’s pocket fours.  The final board came down :9h :jc :8h :js :kc giving Nguyen the pot and the chip lead going into heads up.

Nguyen had many opportunities to win the event but the poker gods was with Cimpan he came from behind time and time again until eventually he took the chip lead from Nguyen.  After a long fought battle Cimpan came from behind in a hand again, but this time he had Nguyen covered.  This came when all the chip went in pre flop with Nguyen having :ah :9d against Cimpan’s :kc :5c Cimpan overtook Nguyen when the flop came down :5h :3s :10c His paired five was good enough to win the event when the :10d and :4s ended any hope for Nguyen.

Cimpan won the $1.6 million dollar jackpot after 6 days gruelling play, against some of the best players  in the game.  A good achievement for the latest WPT winner.

Final Standings

  • 1st Cornel Andrew Cimpan $1,686,260
  • 2nd Binh Nguyen $935,424
  • 3rd Mike Sowers $654,77
  • 4th Chris Karagulleyan $430,963
  • 5th Pat Walsh $ 310,694
  • 6th Chris Ferguson $240,538



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