[toc]There are a few things you can count on when it comes to poker in California in February.
The new year will likely be rolling out some new state online poker bill. And hoards of pros will flock to Commerce Casino for a month of action at the LA Poker Classic tournament series.
The big names turned out earlier than usual thanks to the lure of several mixed game tournaments and two of the biggest clashed on the felt this week when Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Phil Hellmuth played heads-up in the $1,100 buy-in Omaha-8/Stud-8 tournament.
Hellmuth defeated Matusow to win $25,200
The tournament drew 72 players.
And while the top payday is not exactly a huge sum for Hellmuth, he did collect $25,200, the Commerce Casino Remington Trophy, and bragging rights after beating one of his best friends and fellow breakout characters of the poker boom.
The final table also featured some other notable names like Bicycle Casino tournament director Mo Fathipour and “Miami” John Cernuto.
The real show though was the heads-up battle between the two friends, which was streamed on Periscope.
After the event, Hellmuth spoke with the LAPC team about the experience. As he told them, the scenario was a bit of the student teaching the master. Hellmuth came to Commerce to work on his mixed games with advice from friends like Matusow and Brandon Cantu.
“I’m down here to learn games better pick up stuff talking to Mike Matusow and Miami John, who are two of the best O8 players in the world, especially in tournaments.
Just to be able to discuss hands with them is super educational. John had some great insights, and Mike is the best in this game. For me, learning what hands to play is huge.”
Hellmuth also finished second in a 2-7 event during this extended tutoring trip.
LAPC Main Event starts Saturday, Feb. 25
The big names battling at the Commerce Casino tables will be a common sight come Saturday when the World Poker Tour (WPT) LA Poker Classic Main Event begins.
The tournament is the only $10,000 buy-in freeze out on the WPT schedule and one of the most historically important events on the tour.
Last year the event drew 515 entries and winner Dietrich Fast took home over $1 million for first place.
Linda Johnson to be honored by WPT at Commerce Casino
The parade of big names continues on Tuesday, Feb. 27 when Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson receives the inaugural WPT Honors award.
The “First Lady of Poker” will be honored and thanked for her early participation with the tour. She used her extensive connections with casinos and poker rooms across the country to help establish partners and stops during the early goings of the WPT.
As the WPT explains it, the new distinction is “awarded to members of the poker industry in celebration and appreciation of exceptional contributions made to the World Poker Tour and the poker community as a whole.”
Johnson will be the guest of honor at a small Beverly Hills, California dinner alongside friends, family, and representatives from the WPT.
Los Angeles is already overtaken with the top poker players from all over the world and the focus will remain on California with upcoming tournament stops for multiple tours in LA, San Jose, and the Sacramento area.