WPT Legends of Poker winner Harry Arutyunyan had more than a decade of poker playing experience under his belt, but he had no tournament results until he cashed in one of the Legends of Poker preliminary events at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles in August. But the 31-year-old businessman who hails from Armenia is now a WPT champion, having defeated a solid field of tournament players and emerged as the winner.
Early Stages of Main Event
The Legends of Poker Main Event officially kicked off the latest season of the World Poker Tour and offered a $3,700 buy-in NLHE tournament. There were three starting days with reentries allowed, as well as a quantum reload option for players wanting to buy in for $10K on Day 2.
Day 1A brought in 156 entries with 52 remaining, and Day 1B added 178 entries with 76 surviving. Day 1C tallied up another 222 entries with 95 players bagging chips at the end of the night. Nick Grippo was the overall chip leader of the three flights.
Day 2 added a few more players and brought the grand total of entries to 593, creating a prize pool of $2,172,994. There would be payouts for the top 54 finishers, and the Day 2 action reduced the field from well over 200 players down to just 67. Chris Tolone had climbed into the chip lead that day, with Grippo still among the top players on the leaderboard.
Getting to Final Table Day
Day 3 was key, as only 54 of the remaining players would be paid for their efforts. Ali Eslami was the bubble player, exiting in 55th place at the hands of Keven Stammen, and play moved forward with guaranteed payouts of at least $8,630. David Williams was one who cashed for that amount, and others who hit the cashier cage throughout the afternoon and evening included Freddy Deeb, Ryan Riess, Matt Salsberg, and David Chiu. Of the 16 players still standing when play stopped, Tyler Kenney was the chip leader with 2,955,000 in his stack, followed by Jeremy Kottler with 2.57 million.
Play moved forward on Day 4, and as the final table neared, Andy Frankenberger was eliminated in tenth place, followed by Richard Munro in ninth and Keven Stammen in eighth. And ultimately, it was Owen Crowe who busted in seventh place for $63,650 to end play.
Tough Final Table
The final table began on August 29 with Massoud Eskandari as the chip leader holding 5,975,000 of them, and Arutyunyan was in second position with 3.67 million. Jeremy Kottler was the short stack.
Though it took 43 hands, Kottler was the first player all-in and at risk, and he was ousted in sixth place by Eskandari. Cornell doubled through and Kenney took big chips from Eskandari, but he continued to lead the pack.
Arutyunyan made headway, however, when he eliminated Cornell in fifth place and McFarland in fourth in a massive hand. His A-T trumped pocket queens and K-J when an ace appeared on the flop. Eskandari still led the final three, but Arutyunyan gained ground as Kenney took a big pot from Eskandari.
As Arutyunyan and Eskandari exchanged the lead back and forth, Kenney finally pushed his shorter stack all-in with A-2 but ran into the pocket sevens of Eskandari to exit in third place.
Heads-up play then began on the 105th hand of the night with Eskandari holding 15,205,000 chips to the 3,745,000 of Arutyunyan. But the amateur tournament player made a big comeback with two double-ups early in the action. The two then battled for 70 hands until Arutyunyan took control and never looked back. Eskandari did double through once, but Arutyunyan pushed forward again.
Late into the night, Eskandari moved his last 7.85 million chips all-in with A-7 but ran into the A-8 of Arutyunyan. The board blanked, and Arutyunyan won the WPT title, trophy, and more than half of a million dollars in prize money.
1st place: Harry Arutyunyan ($576,369)
2nd place: Mike Eskandari ($330,110)
3rd place: Tyler Kenney ($213,600)
4th place: Taylor McFarland ($145,640)
5th place: Tyler Cornell ($103,560)
6th place: Jeremy Kottler ($83,075)