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Day One of the L.A. Poker Classic

David Singer Takes the Chip Lead

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Antonio EsfandiariThe L.A. Poker Classic is consistently one of the largest World Poker Tour events of the season, and this year’s championship event at the Commerce Casino is no exception. A grand total of 665 entrants each put up the $10,000 buy-in to create a total prize pool of $6,384,000. The players at the final seven tables will walk away with at least double their buy-ins, and the first-place finisher will be the 85th poker-made millionaire of the WPT, taking home nearly $1,600,000.

The top pros all came out for one of the most popular events on tour, and the numbers were so large that five tables were forced to start downstairs in the high-stakes poker room. Additionally, due to a shortage of tables, some of the players in the second floor ballroom were forced to play on specially made tables for shorthanded games like stud and Chinese poker. The result of which was nine uncomfortable players waiting hours for the leg-room relief of a table break.

Even though about 25 players busted in the first of the 90-minute levels, only one of them was a notable professional. It took just four hands for Shane “shaniac” Schleger to be eliminated at the hands of Noah “fouruhaters” Schwartz. Both players have a WPT final table this season and are fan favorites of the online community. Schwartz made the best possible full house on the river to make Schleger’s stay a short one. Schwartz hung on to most of his chips throughout the day to finish with close to 50,000.

Gus Hansen, who won this event in 2003, did not make an appearance in today’s field, but the other four past champions did make the trip. The four other former champions, Antonio Esfandiari (2004), Michael Mizrachi (2005), Alan Goehring (2006), and Eric Hershler (2007), all managed to survive the day.David Singer

The close proximity to the Hollywood Hills brought out at least a few stars. Montel Williams, Jennifer Tilly, and Rick Solomon were all spotted throughout the day, although the majority of the rich and the famous will have to wait until the WPT Invitational on March 1 to make their debuts.

It was a long and slow grind for most of the field. After five levels had passed, play ended for the night and the bagging and tagging began. The notable players that finished the day with a slightly heavier bag included David Singer (137,400), Theo Tran (112,575), Justin Bonomo (77,125), Antonio Esfandiari (118,000), and Anna Wroblewski (116,550).

Play will resume tomorrow at 12:30 PST, when the approximately 450 remaining players will start with blinds of 200-400 with a 50 ante and play six more levels.