The poker public’s desire to return to fully live poker tournaments as pandemic restrictions ease is on full display again, this time at the ongoing Los Angeles Poker Classic (LAPC) have demolished their posted guarantees. In the LAPC’s “Welcome Back” kickoff tourney, for example, the actual prize pool turned out to be more than six times its guarantee, and every event to date has generated a huge turnout.
The LAPC’s “Welcome Back” opener heralded an auspicious series. Served up with a modest $25,000 guarantee based on a $250 buy-in, the event pulled in 757 entries over two starting flights to generate a $151,400 prize pool.
The turnout was so massive relative to the initial guarantee that when entries closed and payouts were calculated, the event’s first prize alone — $27,080 — topped the event’s $25K guarantee. As it turned out, no one actually walked away with the $27,080. With a tight range of chip stacks at the final table and all the extra money in play, the final eight players decided to chop. Le-John Pai was the official winner, collecting $14,385, while Nam Trinh earned more than half that as the shortest remaining stack, $7,755 for eighth.
Subsequent events offered similar guarantee-crushing purses
The other early-series events offering guaranteed prize pools have shown similar huge turnouts. Event #2, a $350 no-limit hold’em offering, only covered its own $25,000 guarantee by a factor of four:
Event #11, the largest offering in the LAPC’s early weeks, was a $100,000 guaranteed NLH event with six opening flights available throughout January’s final weekend. The turnout was more of the same — by the time Saturday’s final flight had closed, 1,446 entries had been logged. That translated into a prize pool of $491,640, nearly five times the official $100K offer.
Lack of WPT brand onsite may be a non-issue
Huge turnouts will likely nullify the continued absence of the World Poker Tour (WPT) from the LAPC scene. The 2020 LAPC main event was shuttered mid-tourney when the original COVID-19 outbreak hit, resulting in its being scratched from the WPT’s roster of planned Season XVIII episodes.
An abbreviated LAPC series and main event in 2020 ran without the WPT’s affiliation for the first time since 2003, when Gus Hansen won the LAPC main as part of the World Poker Tour’s Season I. This year’s LAPC is the second straight WPT-free series.
Given the WPT’s prominence and its ability to attract players from great distances for its higher-priced, televised events, it’s unlikely that this year’s LAPC main can outperform to quite the extent of this year’s early LAPC tourneys. In comments made last summer, longtime WPT executive tour director Matt Savage expressed his belief that the split was likely only a temporary circumstance. Meanwhile, under tourney director D.J. Villegas, the LAPC itself has downsized and streamlined, with a greater focus of NLH and other core offerings.
Featured image source: Twitter / DJVEGAS3