Every time you look, there is another major poker tournament taking place. Commerce Casino in L.A. just completed its annual L.A. Poker Classic, and there were three majors there. The Professional Poker Tour (PPT ) event was a success, particularly for Erick “EDOG” Lindgren. He beat out the tough field of 180 players to take down the first-place prize of $225,000. Erick also made the final table of the $10,000 buy-in championship event. The other five players who made the final table were Harley Hall, Ted Forrest, Hung La, Haralabos Voulgaris, and Michael Mizrachi. Haralabos and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi went heads up in a long battle that ended with “The Grinder” being the victor.
Mizrachi is tearing up the tournament circuit, as he won more than $1.8 million at Commerce Casino and also made the final table in the championship event of the World Poker Open. When playing, Michael can be spotted wearing a basketball jersey and a hat that reads: “The Grinder, I’m a Machine.” I didn’t play with him, but from what I have heard, he has no fear and is a monster at the table. We at Card Player were so impressed that we had to put him on the cover immediately.
The L.A. Poker Classic concluded with my favorite event of the year — the WPT Celebrity Invitational. I tried to do the old fly-in-at-the-last-minute trick, but after a couple of hours of delays, I showed up more than two hours late. The funny part was that I had more chips than I usually do at that time.
In one of the first hands I played, I raised with Bola88 pocket nines and was called in several spots. One of the callers was a lovely lady from Baywatch who was sitting with her significant other and her good friend looking over her shoulder. I am not sure that the one-player-to-a-hand rule applied in the celebrity event. I flopped a full house and bet out, and everyone folded to her. She said, “I think he has it.” Her entourage convinced her that I was bluffing, and told her to call me down. To make a long story short, I doubled up my chip stack because her friends made her call even though she didn’t want to. The lesson there is that even beginning players should stick with their first hunches. You shouldn’t play if you can’t trust your instincts.
A few hours later, I got involved in a hand with Tom Everett Scott from That Thing You Do and American Werewolf in Paris. That thing he did was bust me. He ended up making the final table with Chris Ferguson, Chau Giang, Bruce Buffer, Johan Storakers, and Alex Brenes. Alex was the third Brenes to win a poker championship. Brothers Humberto and Eric have both won big events.
It was nice to see Chris Ferguson at the final table again. I am sure he was disappointed, but that’s OK, because he took home $655,000 that same weekend by winning the World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit event at Harrah’s in Rincon, California. Chris followed up that big win by finishing second to Phil Hellmuth for another $250,000 in the National Heads-up Poker Championship at the Golden Nugget. I will cover that event in my next column. For now, all I will say is, Phil is back! spades