2009 Los Angeles Poker Classic Recap
March 3, 2022

The Beginning

695 players entered this year’s World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino, enough to create a total prize pool worth nearly $6.7 million dollars (about $300,000 more than last year).

The first two days of play spelled the end to more than three-fourths of a field that included top players like Howard Lederer, Allen Cunningham, Gavin Griffin, Shane Schleger, Amit Makhija, Erik Seidel, Steve Sung, Mike Matusow, Kevin Saul, Vanessa Rousso, Phil Hellmuth, and past LAPC champion Alan Goehring.

167 players survived Day 1 and 2 of the LAPC, many of whom are considered to be some of the best in the game, players like Phil Ivey, John Phan, Paul Wasicka, JJ Liu, Nenad Medic, Todd Brunson, David Pham, Hevad Khan, Erica Schoenberg, Nick Schulman, Daniel Negreanu, Haralabos Voulgaris and Antonio Esfandiari, who at the time sat at the top of the pile with more than 400,000 in tournament chips.

Day 3

The third day of the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event proved to be quite productive. Not only did the day cause the field to shrink from 167 to 63, but it also dispensed with the bubble period, which meant everyone returning for Day 4 was assured to make at least $23,052.

Many PokerRoad favorites and well known pros ended their runs during the difficult Day 3 including Daniel Negreanu, Anna Wroblewski, Jimmy Fricke, Jeff Madsen, Antonio Esfandiari, Todd Brunson, Liz Lieu, Hevad Khan, John Phan, Eric Mizrachi, David Oppenheim and last year’s LAPC champion and PokerRoad staple, Phil Ivey.

Players still hanging in included David Pham, Nick Schulman, Hoyt Corkins, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Paul Darden Jr., Haralabos Voulgaris, Greg Mueller and PokerRoad blogger Erica Schoenberg.

The chip leader after three days of play with 837,000 was Kofi Farkye, who at the time was well on his way to the LAPC first prize of $1,686,760.

Day 4

The fourth day of play saw the field shrink to only 20 entrants with many hitting the rail including Farkye, the Day 3 chip leader. The eventful Day 4 also brought about the all to familiar rise of “Jesus.”

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson started Day 4 with a below average chip stack despite being well within the top ten, thanks to the huge stacks of the chip leaders Kofi Farkye and Mike Sowers substantially throwing off the curve. As the 63 starting Day 4 players slowly reduced down throughout Tuesday’s play, Ferguson methodically built his stack until it was his 1,721,000 pile messing with the average (696,000).

Much of Ferguson’s success came at the expense of Farkye – thanks largely to a million-plus pot in which Kofi lost to the former WSOP Main Event champion via a river bluff with only fourth pair (Ferguson called with a pair of aces).

Farkye was not the only player to have an unfortunate fourth day at Commerce, other players who headed to the rail included Bertrand Grospellier, Nancy Todd Tyner, Men Nguyen, David Pham, Will Failla, Paul Darden, David Daneshgar, Maria Ho, Paul Wasicka, Hoyt Corkins, Greg “FBT” Mueller and PokerRoad favorites Erica Schoenberg and Haralabos Voulgaris.

Players faced with the daunting task of dethroning “Jesus” included Chris Karagulleyan (1,146,000), Peter “Nordberg” Feldman (423,000), Mike Sowers (626,000), Nick Schulman (850,000) and Teddy “Iceman” Monroe (264,000).

Day 5

After five tough days of play that began with 696 players, the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic was finally down to its six-person, televised final table.

LAPC final tables have been lucky in the past to always have some real star power and the 2009 final table continued that trend, featuring a past WPT champion, a well-known Internet pro and undisputedly one of the most recognizable faces in all of poker saddling up to play.

That face, what little of it can be seen under the familiar beard, long hair and cowboy hat, belonged to World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, who began the day with the shortest stack of the group, despite starting Day 5 as the chip leader.

Of course, it could have been worse. Fourteen players from Day 5’s play didn’t even make the final table including Nick Schulman (17th), Teddy “Iceman” Monroe (16th), Zach Hyman (12th) and Peter “Nordberg” Feldman (14th).

The “Seventhbok” of the group was Blake Cahail, who had to settle for bouncing on the TV table bubble, after getting it all in pre-flop with ace-king of hearts against former WPT champion Chris Karagulleyan’s pocket kings. After the board ran out with no additional help, Cahail earned $180,403 for his seventh place finish.

The final six players of the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic were as follows:

Seat 1.

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson



Seat 2.

Cornel Andrew Cimpan



Seat 3.

Pat Walsh



Seat 4.

Chris Karagulleyan



Seat 5.

Mike “SowersUNCC” Sowers



Seat 6.

Bihn Nguyen



Seat 7.

Daniel Heimiller



Seat 8.

Kevin Saul



It’s All Over

In his pre-final table World Poker Tour interview (hosted by Amanda Leatherman), Cornel Andrew Cimpan commented that even given the tough competition he had never before felt so comfortable as a short stack in a tournament. Well, apparently that feeling continued because, despite entering the loaded final table of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic with the second shortest stack of the six, Cimpan eventually was able to claim the prestigious title, along with a top prize worth $1,686,760.

Cimpan started the day with 1,740,000 in tournament chips, ahead of only Chris “Jesus” Ferguson’s 1,565,000 and substantially behind chip leader and previous WPT champion Chris Karagulleyan’s stack of 4,080,000. Given Ferguson’s vast experience, many wouldn’t have been surprised to see him rally back to life, but few focused much on Cimpan, whose solid, snug style of play went largely unnoticed by the poker pundits.

Ferguson, for the record, did build his way out of the basement numerous times during the final table, but it seemed whenever he would begin to make real progress something would knock him down again. Eventually “Jesus” went out exactly where a computer using ICM (Independent Chip Modeling) or some similar process would have predicted, sixth place out of sixth.

The other big guns at the table, including online pro Mike “SowersUNCC” Sowers, didn’t fare much better. Neither Sowers nor Karagulleyan were able to make it into the heads-up portion of the evening, leaving Cimpan to compete against Bihn Nguyen, who until today was even less known in the poker world than Cimpan.

The heads-up battle raged for more than five hours, but eventually after a series of fortunate double-ups, Cimpan was able to dispatch Nguyen and earn the right to call himself a WPT champion.

The final table finish positions for the 2009 WPT L.A. Poker Classic were as follows:


Cornel Andrew Cimpan




Binh Nguyen




Mike Sowers




Chris Karagulleyan




Pat Walsh




Chris “Jesus” Ferguson





    Event Recap by Mark Anderson

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