Bala Patur took down the 2020 LA Poker Classic in Las Vegas 14 months after it began at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. In doing so, he earned a $1,015,000 payday and beat out 489 other players in the prestigious $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour event.
The tournament began March 3, 2020, at LA’s Commerce Casino. Originally, the plan was for the tournament to play down to the final table of six in early April at the HyperX eSports Arena in Las Vegas. In between the start of the event and the scheduled final table, casinos everywhere were forced to shut down temporarily due to COVID-19.
After months of trying to find a venue and figure out the logistics, the WPT rented out the PokerGO Studio on the Las Vegas Strip for three straight nights this week, starting with the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open 2020 final table on Sunday. The WPT LA Poker Classic final table played out on Monday and, on Tuesday evening, they’ll host the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which played to a final table in South Florida last month.
Patus beats tough final table
The LA Poker Classic brings out some of the best players in the world each year. As such, the final table is often stacked, and the 2020 edition was no different. Upeshka De Silva, a talented pro who reached the 2020 WSOP Main Event hybrid final table, made it to Las Vegas, and this time he was permitted to compete.
In December, De Silva made the final nine in the WSOP.com bracket of the Main Event, but tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived at the Rio in Las Vegas. Per the rules, he was paid ninth-place money ($98,813) and disqualified from the event. He again was the first to go at Monday’s final table, but not because of a positive COVID-19 test. Instead, his A-2 was done in by Patur’s A-K, knocking him off the final table in sixth place for $261,700.
Ka Kwan Lau, who reached his first WPT final table, was then out in fifth place ($243,330), followed by Scott Hempel in fourth place ($323,485). James Carroll, who was attempting to win his third World Poker Tour title, came up just short of that goal with a third-place finish at the 2020 LA Poker Classic, but still took home $431,585. He won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $715,175 last year. That set up a heads-up match against Patur and Matas Cimbolas, another past WPT champion.
Patur began heads-up play with about a 1.5-1 chip advantage and he never relinquished that lead. In fact, Cimbolas couldn’t gain much ground at any point in the match, though the final hand did give the eventual champion quite a sweat.
Patur went all-in with A-9 off-suit against K-6 off-suit, the king being a diamond. The flop ran out J-7-2, all diamonds, putting Cimbolas in a strong position with a flush draw and two live cards for a pair. But the turn and river bricked out for him, and that was the end of a 14-month long poker tournament. Cimbolas received $600,060 for second place and Patur won $1,015,000 for first place.
“It’s incredible. I can’t express my happiness right now. To me, it was such a long time … and the table with such good players, it was anybody’s game and I played well and ran well,” Patur said in his post-game interview.
Patur said he spent the past 14 months “doing a lot of studies” in preparation for the final table, which included reading poker books and watching old WPT videos. “Mike is such a nice guy. Incredible guy! He’s such a good person and always a pleasure to talk to. To see him is a great pleasure, he’ll be remembered for a long time. I wish he was here next to me winning this,” the champ said of having his name on the Mike Sexton Trophy, which honors the late WPT announcer.