California accountant Dennis Blieden emerged from a field of 493 players to win $1 million at the $10,000 Los Angeles Poker Classic WPT Main Event. Blieden held the chip lead for most of the latter stages of play and used an aggressive style to conquer a final table worth of the high buy-in. A live-streamed audience watched Blieden earn his title on PokerGO.
This year’s LAPC marked the 25th anniversary of the event and the 16th trip for the World Poker Tour to the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, California.
Blieden showed no signs of inexperience in winning his first-ever WPT event in only his third career tournament cash.
Final table lineup
Seat 1. Peter Hengsakul – 1,065,000 (36 bb)
Seat 2. Marc Macdonnell – 1,695,000 (57 bb)
Seat 3. Dennis Blieden – 4,125,000 (138 bb)
Seat 4. Manuel Martinez – 985,000 (33 bb)
Seat 5. Toby Lewis – 5,390,000 (180 bb)
Seat 6. Derek Wolters – 1,520,000 (51 bb)
Action heats up right away
The LAPC final table finished in an efficient 79 hands. In the sixth hand of play, Spaniard Manuel Martinez exited in sixth place at the hands of Blieden.
Martinez opened under the gun with pocket queens and Blieden defended his big blind with eight-six offsuit. Blieden flopped trip eights, turned a full house, and all of Martinez’s 30 big blinds were in before the river. No queen came for Martinez and Blieden jumped into the chip lead.
Eight hands later, local favorite Peter Hengsakul departed in fifth place. The real estate investor fell to Blieden. Hengsakul shoved for 19 big blinds over a raise from Blieden with nine-eight of hearts. Blieden called with ace-seven of hearts and faded any trouble to bust Hengsakul.
Blieden in first for good
2018 Aussie Millions Main Event winner Toby Lewis and Blieden wrestled for the chip lead for the first half of the final table.
In Hand #35, Blieden took it for good. Blieden raised to 80,000 under the gun and received a call from Lewis on the button and Marc Macdonnell in the big blind. The flop rolled out ace-king-seven with two spades and a bet of 205,000 from Blieden left Lewis as the only opponent remaining in the hand.
Blieden bet 405,000 more when the five of spades hit the turn and put 1,215,000 in the middle on the ten of hearts river. Lewis called to see Blieden show jack-eight of spades and Lewis’ two pair was second-best. Blieden held half of the chips in play and closed out his win a few hours later.
Macdonnell and Wolters depart
Three established pros stood in front of Blieden including Season XVI WPT Montreal final tablist Derek Wolters. Blieden proved too much to overcome and Macdonnell was the first to fall from that group.
With the blinds up to 25,000/50,000, Macdonnell moved all-in on the button for 1,105,000 with ace-seven offsuit. Lewis woke up with wired nines in the blinds and flopped a set to send out Macdonnell.
Wolters attempted to best his third-place finish from Montreal but wound as the low man on the podium yet again. After getting his kings cracked by Lewis, Wolters was on the short stack. He shoved for six blinds with queen-seven suited and could not beat the king-deuce of Blieden.
The 1,100 WPT Player of the Year points earned by Wolters put him into second-place on the leaderboard behind Art Papazyan. The 1,800 points of Wolters means he is one final table away from potentially passing Papazyan’s 2,400 should the current leader fail to cash before then.
Short and sweet heads up
Lewis started heads up play against Blieden with a fighting chance but their match ended in only two hands. Blieden finished off his amazing run in dramatic fashion.
Lewis raised with two tens to 120,000 and Blieden three-bet with ace-queen offsuit to 300,000. Lewis opted to four-bet to 750,000 and Blieden called to the six-six-three flop. With two spades on board, Lewis bet 400,000 and Blieden called. The queen of hearts peeled on the turn and Lewis shoved for 2,200,000.
Blieden thought it over and called to put Lewis at risk. No ten came for Lewis and the Brit was denied his second major victory of 2018. He did earn a $600,630 consolation prize.
Blieden is the World Poker Tour’s newest millionaire and he has a seat waiting for him in the $15,000 Tournament of Champions.
Final table results
1st Place: Dennis Blieden – $1,000,000
2nd Place: Toby Lewis – $600,630
3rd Place: Derek Wolters – $430,210
4th Place: Marc Macdonnell – $319,310
5th Place: Peter Hengsakul – $244,430
6th Place: Manuel Martinez – $186,235
On the road again
The West Coast trip for the WPT is in Lincoln, California this weekend. WPT Rolling Thunder starts Friday with the first of two Day 1 flights and wraps up on March 6 with a live-streamed final table.
Photo courtesy of WPT/Flickr