[toc]During its 15-year tenure, World Poker Tour (WPT) only has three stops that appeared on the schedule every single season. There is the Five Diamond event at Bellagio, the L.A. Poker Classic and, of course, Legends of Poker at California card room The Bicyclce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA.
This year’s Legends of Poker event lived up to its name. The final table included some serious poker celebrities, JC Tran and 14-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
It looked like the tournament was in for a memorable conclusion too. Hellmuth got heads-up for his WPT title. However, he lost out to Art Papazyan for the title, and had to settle for second.
WPT celebrates billionth dollar awarded
With 793 entries across three starting days, this was the second-biggest Legends of Poker Main Event ever.
The big turnout was one reason to celebrate. However, the WPT had another reason to celebrate. The tour awarded their billionth dollar at this event.
WPT decided to celebrate the occasion with a bunch of extra prizes for the exact player who got the billionth dollar. So, while 48th and 46th place each earned $10,405, 47th place ended up with quite a bit more.
T.J. Shepherd was the lucky bustout. In addition to his payday, he earned a free entry into next year’s Legends of Poker event along with a free hotel stay during the tournament.
Shepherd hails from Fullerton, CA, where he holds down a full-time job. He satellited into the tournament for $430. It is a rather small prize to pay for a pretty memorable experience. In addition to his bustout, Shepherd told the WPT another bustout at his hands is one he will always remember.
“It was bittersweet to knock out Mike Sexton. I’m a huge fan. I bought his book at the WSOP. I never thought I’d be heads up with him, he’s a true gentlemen. I felt bad knocking him out in one way. In another way, it helped make me Day 2. Sorry, Mike!”
Hellmuth starts new WPT role off on the right foot
The Legends of Poker final table was Hellmuth’s first final table on the WPT since 2010. It is remarkably good timing too. Earlier this summer, the WPT announced none other than Hellmuth would be the show’s new Raw Deal segment analyst.
Tony Dunst served as the Raw Deal and live streaming host for the past several years. However, with Sexton’s retirement as host, Dunst is now calling the action alongside Vince Van Patten. Ironically, Dunst auditioned for his role with the WPT analyzing a hand at Hellmuth’s last final table appearance.
Now, Hellmuth’s first task could be to analyze his own final table play. In the meantime, the final table did get livestreamed on Poker GO with commentary from David Tuchman and poker pro Jason Les. Poker GO will be offering same-day livestreams for all US final tables on the WPT’s Main Tour this season.
Photo courtesy of WPT / Joe Giron & Poker Photo Archive