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LA POKER CLASSIC MAIN EVENT



LA Poker Classic Main Event - Final Day
2006, Jason Kirk  

After five days of action at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, six players remained to battle it out on the WPT set for a first prize of over $2.3 million. Only two of the players had a credible track record in big-money tournaments, but all of them demonstrated great skill over the course of making it to the final table.

In seat 1 was Steve Simmons of Watertown, NY. Simmons has cashed in tournaments ranging back to 2000, but never for any more than $8,700. That prize came in his win in the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event at the Ultimate Poker Classic in September 2004. He came to the TV table with $1,505,000 in chips.

In seat 2 was JC Tran of Sacramento, CA. Tran's track record at WPT events is fairly extensive, featuring cashes at Foxwoods, Borgata, Bellagio, and Commerce, and two finishes as the TV bubble boy. His biggest career cash was at the 2004 World Poker Finals, when he took home over $353,000 for 5th place. Tran brought the big stack of $3,720,000 to the table.

In seat 3 was Michael Woo of Hacienda Heights, CA. Woo was the first qualifier for the LA Poker Classic this year, winning a single-table $1,000 satellite. The biggest cash of his career before this year's LAPC was at last year's Bay 101 Shooting Stars tournament, when he took 23rd and $30,000. Woo came to the final table with $2,195,000 in chips.

In seat 4 was probably the most accomplished player of the six, Alan Goehring of Henderson, NV. With 6 WSOP cashes, 9 WPT main event cashes, and 1 WPT Championship title to his credit, Goehring is a fearsome player at the table. Goehring brought $1,900,000 in chips to the table, marking his 2nd WPT final table of the season.

In seat 5 was Daniel Quach of Monrovia, CA. Quach's track record in Los Angeles-area tournaments is impressive, with many small buy-in final tables to his credit, but his most impressive accomplishment was finishing 190th at the 2005 WSOP Main Evnet. That finish was good enough for $39,075. Quach brought $1,655,000 in chips to the final table.

Finally, in seat 6 was Per Ummer of Cyprus. The Swedish expatriate 's only career cash to date was at the $100 No Limit Hold'em event in the 2004 Barcelona Open, though he did finish 44th at the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions. He qualified for the LAPC Main Event through a satellite just before it began. Ummer brought $2,870,000 in chips to the table.

Play began just after 5:45 PM local time, and unlike most WPT final tables the first flop was seen on the very first hand. This set the tone for the rest of the night: almost all of the players at the table were willing to see flops and take a chance at hitting a big hand. JC Tran and Daniel Quach in particular were active in the first stages, beginning with $25,000-50,000 blinds and a $5,000 ante. They were both willing to stick in big raises when they sensed weakness in their opponents, and in general they were rewarded for their aggression. The epitome of this action came when both players got their entire stacks in before the flop - and both of them held A-K.

While the players were willing to see flops, there were very few showdowns over the first several hours. Play was tentative, with big bets tending to win pots and the players refusing to get their entire stacks involved with marginal hands. JC Tran rode a roller coaster, moving to the top and bottom of the chip count depending on how his fortunes were running at the moment., and Daniel Quach jumped atop the leaderboard and didn't let go. Alan Goehring also picked up several big pots, including a hand when he hit trip nines to crack Daniel Quach's T-T.

Nearly 4 hours after the first hand of the final table, blinds had risen to a whopping $100,000-200,000 with a $20,000 ante. The first elimination came on this level, on the 80th hand, when Per Ummer moved all-in before the flop with A-7 of clubs but ran into JC Tran's A-K. This set a new WPT record for the longest start to a final table without a knockout (the previous record had been set at the 2005 Borgata Poker Open, when it took 73 hands to eliminate the first player). Ummer took home $199,296 for an impressive performance.

The second elimination of the night was particularly dramatic. JC Tran raised to $600,000 before the flop, and Alan Goehring moved all-in behind him for $1,420,000. Tran quickly called and showed A-A, while Goehring showed 5-5. The flop came 9-7-2, all spades, leaving Goehring with a single out thanks to Tran holding the ace of spades. With the realization that Goehring was drawing to a single out, the crowd erupted with excitement. The turn card was the 2 of hearts, giving Goehring an extra out - the 5 of spades was once again live, as it would give him a full house. The river card brought one of the only two cards that could win the hand for Goehring - the 5 of diamonds - and Goehring took down a huge pot. He had Tran covered by a single $25,000, eliminating the day's starting chip leader in 5th place with $265,728.

Twenty minutes later Steven Simmons was eliminated in 4th place by Goehring. Simmons, probably the most conservative player at the table, moved all-in before the flop. After going deep into the tank, Goehring made the call with K-J of hearts and found himself dominating Simmons' J-T. Simmons never got any help and left in 4th place with $338,803. Another 20 minutes later, Michael Woo was eliminated as well. Woo raised to $1,000,000 on the button, Daniel Quach moved his $6.5 million stack all-in from the big blind, and after some thought Woo made the call. He was ahead with 5-5 against Quach's K-Q, but the A-A-Q flop was all Quach needed to send Woo home in 3rd place with $571,315.

Once play reached the heads-up stage, neither Daniel Quach nor Alan Goehring were willing to go too far with marginal holdings. Quach came into heads-up with a $9.3 million-$4.5 million advantage, and he pummeled Goehring with big raises at every opportunity. To his credit, Goehring held back and waited for solid opportunities before attacking. He finally grabbed a small chip lead once the blinds reached the $250,000-500,000 level. Then Quach moved all-in before the flop at 12:30 AM local time, and Goehring made the call with K-8 after some serious thought. Quach showed A-J, and was ahead on the Q-J-8 flop, but fell behind when Goehring caught a miracle king on the turn. Th river was no help, sending the pot Goehring's way - and, as it turned out, the tournament and title as well. For the second time at the TV table, Goehring had his opponent covered by a single $25,000 chip. This time was much more valuable to him - it gave him $2,391,550 (the largest regular-season WPT prize ever), as well as a seat in the $25,000 WPT Championship at Bellagio in April. Quach took home $1,162,560 for his 2nd place finish.
 


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