WPT Legends of Poker Crowns New Champion

WPT Legends of Poker Crowns New Champion

On the evening of September 4, 2019, Aaron Van Blarcum won the WPT Legends of Poker. It was his first tournament title and largest score of his poker life thus far.

The World Poker Tour started its 18th season with a new favorite and then an old favorite.

In July, it kicked off with the WPT Gardens Poker Festival at Gardens Casino in Southern California. Players have grown to enjoy the property, making it a new favorite for many. And when it was over, Roger Teska had become the newest WPT champion and the first of Season XVIII.

After more than a month off, the WPT was back in action at the end of August with a stop at an old favorite, the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. And the Legends of Poker series is one that has been a player favorite for decades.

Let’s go back a few days to see how the WPT Legends of Poker began and Aaron Van Blarcum forged his way to a World Poker Tour title.

Bringing Players to the Tables

The WPT Legends of Poker Main Event was a $5K buy-in tournament at the Bicycle Casino. It kicked off on Saturday, August 31, complete with a $2 million prize pool guarantee.

Single reentries were allowed with a maximum of five over the course of the two starting days.

Day 1A brought in 191 entries and ended with 72 players holding chips. Kevin Song was the chip leader, but Van Blarcum was seventh in chips.

Day 1B added another 302 entries, though only 128 of the players advanced to the next day. Linh Truong sat atop that day’s leaderboard.

More entries came in before the start of Day 2, giving the tournament these numbers:

Entries:  520

Prize pool:  $2,392,000

Paid players:  65

Minimum payout:  $8,190

Winner payout:  $474,390

Making the Final Table

Day 2 was full of action, as the vast majority of players exited before the money bubble arrived. Joe Serock busted Bud Lavassani on that bubble, and the money began to flow.

Adam Levy, Linh Truong, Mike Sexton, Kevin Song, Chance Kornuth, Sam Panzica, and Ankush Mandavia were among the players who cashed. With 37 players remaining in the field, Jeremy Joseph and Kimbo Ung tied for the chip lead. Van Blarcum finished sixth in chips.

Day 3 saw the eliminations of Joe Serock, Isaac Baron, Phil Laak, Mohsin Charania, Nipun Java, Jordan and Cristos. Kelly Kim was out in 11th place soon after Van Blarcum doubled through him in a huge hand. Kitty Kuo left in eighth place, and Taylor Black left on the final table bubble, taking home $74,740 for his seventh-place finish.

The final table chip counts for September 4 were as follows:

Gueorgui Gantchev – 5.56 million

Jisup Hwang – 4.38 million

Vahan Sudzhyan – 3.335 million

Jared Griener – 2.75 million

Antonios Roungeris – 2.72 million

Aaron Van Blarcum – 2.05 million

From Worst to First

Van Blarcum started as the short stack but quickly won a few small pots. Roungeris was soon the shortest stack and moved all-in with pocket sevens, but Van Blarcum called with pocket jacks and sent Roungeris out in sixth place.

With that pot and another soon after, Van Blarcum climbed to 5.5 million. He lost some but then clilmbed higher to more than 6.5 million and the chip lead.

Hwang was the next to move all-in, but his pocket threes were no good against the pocket queens of Gantchev. Hwang departed in fifth place.

When Sudzhyan pushed with 6-5 of hearts on a Q-7-4-10 board of all spades, Van Blarcum called with A-K, the king being a spade. The ace of spades sealed the deal and eliminated Sudzhyan in fourth place.

Griener was very short on chips but did double through Gantchev to stay in action. But Griener tried again with pocket sevens, and Van Blarcum called with nines. That sent Griener out in third.

Heads-up play began on the 100th hand of the day with Van Blarcum holding 16.49 million chips to the 4,305,000 of Gantchev. A few hands later, though, Gantchev doubled through Van Blarcum to claim the lead. It didn’t last, however, as Van Blarcum got aggressive and regained the lead. That led to Gantchev pushing all-in with pocket fives, but Van Blarcum called with pocket tens, and the board changed nothing.

The 43-year-old Texas player took home his first WPT title.

1st place:  Aaron Van Blarcum ($474,390)

2nd place:  Gueorgui Gantchev ($306,265)

3rd place:  Jared Griener ($226,040)

4th place:  Vahan Sudzhyan ($168,630)

5th place:  Jisup Hwang ($127,165)

6th place:  Antonios Roungeris ($96,955)


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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