2018 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day 1 – John Misirian Snatches Day 1 Chip Lead in Final Hand Knockout
27 February 2018
PokerBrave (3014 articles)
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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.