Joshua Pollock won one of the most prestigious poker tournaments in California Thursday evening.
The Maryland native won the $5,250 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker main event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. He topped a field of 642 entries and defeated Ray Qartomy heads-up to win $573,350. Unlike previous WPT seasons, the California cardroom hosted the only stop in the Golden State this year.
Pollock’s resume already featured seven-figures worth of tournament cashes and two World Series of Poker bracelets. However, this was the San Diego resident’s first WPT title and the largest cash of his career. The six-figure score bumps his overall tournament earnings to more than $1.7 million.
Pollock carried early momentum to a victory
Following his victory, the 38-year-old poker pro told WPT reporters a realistic shot at a title started on Day 2.
“This tournament was a dream,” said Pollock. “I ran okay on Day 1 and just ran super well on Day 2. I went from one of the bottom stacks to chip leader. Probably this is the best I’ve ever run in a tournament. [Ray] is a legend. He has the most WPT final tables ever. It was awesome playing him heads-up.”
Pollock played the third and three starting flights on Monday, Aug. 29 before making his move to the chip counts the next day. Heading into Thursday’s six-handed final table, Pollock was tied for second in chips. Pollock and WPT champion Matthew Wantman both held stacks worth 42 big blinds, trailing only Qartomy.
Adam Hendrix, Lei Lei and Aaron Montoya were eliminated in the first 11 hands of the final table. As a result, the top three stacks were quickly the final three remaining.
Over the next several hours, Pollock steadily chipped up and Wantman trended downward. On the 80th hand of the final table, Pollock eliminated Wantman in third and took a slight chip lead into heads-up play against Qartomy.
Final table results
Tournament poker options shrinking in California
Before the pandemic-induced shutdowns in 2020, the California poker tournament schedule was one of the most robust in the country. There were typically three WPT stops in the Golden State at both cardrooms and California tribal casinos.
Along with the Legends of Poker series at the Bike, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Bay 101 Casino in San Jose and Thunder Valley Casino in Sacramento all held WPT main tour stops.
But since the state and local governments eased restrictions, only the Bicycle Casino brought the WPT back. The Commerce Casino still held the LAPC this year but didn’t partner with the WPT for its main event.
On the other hand, Thunder Valley decided to run a WSOP Circuit series later this month and a RunGood Poker Series in November. But Bay 101 isn’t bringing a major poker tournament stop back to its property in the near future.