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Eric Hershler Wins 2007 L.A. Poker Classic

Hershler Beats J.C. Tran in Heads-Up Play to Win WPT's Biggest $10,000 Event; Takes Home $2.4 Million First-Place Prize

Like a good Hollywood screenplay, the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic broke down into three acts. Act One: A poker army, 791 strong, descends on the Commerce Casino, making the 2007 LAPC the largest $10,000 event in WPT history. Act Two: The field dwindles, many notable characters perish, and the money bubble pops. Act Three: The six survivors battle at the final table, and one player emerges as the tournament's newest champion, and the winner of a $2.4 million first-place cash prize.

Sure, the plot sounds a little melodramatic, but it's Hollywood, baby; what else did you expect?

Held in the Commerce Casino's Crown Ballroom, set up with the familiar lights and cameras of the WPT's televised final table stage, play began at 5:13 p.m. PST with $30,000-$60,000 blinds and $10,000 antes.

The chip counts coming into the final table were as follows:

1. J.C. Tran - $3,470,000 (seat No. 4)
2. Paul Wasicka - $3,390,000 (seat No. 3)
3. Jacobo Fernandez - $3,370,000 (seat No. 1)
4. Eric Hershler - $2,160,000 (seat No. 6)
5. David Bach - $2,070,000 (seat No. 5)
6. Chau Giang - $1,370,000 (seat No. 2)

Whether a by product of fatigue or strategy, play lasted over three hours before fans witnessed the final table's first elimination.

Doubling up Chau Giang (A-K holding against A-9) sent David Bach to the bottom of the leader board. The Georgia native survived for an additional half hour before pushing all in with his last $205,000. Jacobo Fernandez and Eric Hershler both called. Following a checked A 10 4 flop, Hershler moved all in on the 2 turn. With Fernandez out of the way, Bach turned over the A 2 for two pair, but Hershler showed 2 2. The set stayed ahead on the 3 river, and Bach exited as the sixth-place finisher ($257,425).

Despite his double-up, Giang dragged no other substantial pots and remained one of the table's short stacks. With the blinds at $120,000-$240,000, Giang moved all in, only to have J.C Tran push from the button. A member of the Bellagio's world famous "Big Game," and arguably one of poker's most respected competitors, Giang saw his 2007 LAPC end in a fifth-place finish ($341,710) when his 8 4 dropped to Tran's A J on the Q 9 4 3 A board.

While Paul Wasicka admitted the $2.4 million meant more than the title, the 2006 WSOP runner-up recognized a special value in winning a WPT championship event.

"A win here would possibly eliminate some doubt in people's minds about me being a one-time thing at the World Series," Wasicka said.

Only one month removed from a 12th-place finish at the 2007 Aussie Millions, Wasicka outlasted a record-setting field en route to his LAPC final table appearance. His bid for a title, however, fell short. After sliding down the leader board, Wasicka reraised all in over the top of a Tran preflop raise. Wasicka's A 7 needed help against Tran's 3 3, but the K K 3 6 10 board boated Tran up, and Wasicka walked off the final table set in fourth place ($455,615).

In three-handed play, Hershler used two double-ups through Tran (K Q beating 10 7, and Q 10 topping J 10) to pull even with Fernandez in second place. Hershler then proceeded to net over $2 million from Fernandez, courtesy of an uncalled reraise on an A K 2 flop.

The table's new short stack, Fernandez pushed all in minutes later with J 2, only to have Hershler, holding A A, call. The A 8 2 5 2 gave Hershler the full house, and sent Fernandez home as the third-place finisher ($607,490).

With Fernandez's elimination, the $2.4 million prize came down to Hershler, a man playing in his first live tournament, and Tran, a circuit veteran with a noted L.A. Poker Classic past.

The chip leader coming into last year's LAPC final table, Tran lost on a two-outer (pocket aces cracked by pocket fives) to eventual champ Alan Goehring, and ultimately finished the event in fifth place.

The chip counts were as follows:

1. Eric Hershler - $8,700,000
2. J.C Tran - $7,400,00

At 11:23 p.m., and after over six hours of play, the 2007 LAPC ended on the first hand of heads-up action.

Hershler limped from the button, then called Tran's $700,000 raise. The A J 6 flop lead to a $1.2 million bet by Tran. When Hershler raised all in, Tran called. Hershler showed J 6, giving him the lead over Tran's A 7 top pair, and the tournament came to a close after the turn and river brought the 4 and 9.

Tran, making his second consecutive LAPC final table appearance, earned $1,177,000 for the runner-up finish.

A South Africa native, and Los Angeles resident, Hershler's 2007 L.A. Poker Classic purse included a trophy, the $2.4 million dollar first place prize, and a $25,000 entry into April's WPT Championship event.

Unproven rookie tops heavily favored seasoned pro? Sounds like the classic Hollywood underdog story. Somebody call Ari Gold.


over 14 years ago

Only in poker can a superstar like JC Tran loose to dude playing his first turney.