Dennis Blieden wins WPT LA Poker Classic

Dennis Blieden has gone from a no-name poker player to a World Poker Tour champion. When Blieden entered the $10,000 WPT LA Poker Classic main event at the Commerce Casino in California, it was the first WPT event he had ever played in. Having little experience and only two live-poker tournament cashes to his name didn’t faze Blieden, who outlasted the rest of the 493-player field to become a WPT champion.

Blieden, a vice-president of finance for a services and media company, earned a seven-figure payday for the win, pocketing a cool $1 million. That bumped his lifetime live-poker earnings up to $1,021,980.

When Blieden reached the six-player final table, he sat second in chips. He moved into the chip lead early on by sending Manuel Martinez to the rail when he made a full house to top Martinez’s pocket queens.

Blieden lost the chip lead briefly but regained it with another elimination, this time Peter Hengsakul. Blieden made a pair of aces on the flop that was good enough to top Hengsakul’s eight-nine suited.

Marc Macdonnell was the next player sent packing by Toby Lewis. Macdonnell, sitting with the short stack, moved all-in with ace-seven and Lewis called holding pocket nines. Another nine on the flop buried Macdonnell, leaving three left at the table.

Three became two when Derek Wolters pushed all-in with queen-seven suited. Blieden made the call with king-two and when another king hit on the flop, Wolters’ tournament was over.

Heads-up between Blieden and Lewis

The final two were Blieden and Lewis. If the name Toby Lewis sounds familiar, that may be because he just won the Aussie Millions main event last month for $1.1 million. He would need some help to make it two big wins in less than a month as he entered heads-up play with a huge chip disadvantage. As heads-up play began, Blieden had a 4-to-1 chip lead on Lewis.

It took only two hands to finish it. Lewis won the first hand but it didn’t matter. On the second hand with the blinds at 30,000/60,000, Lewis raised 120,000 and Blieden reraised to 300,000. After thinking it over, Lewis came back at him, raising to 750,000. Blieden called and the flop showed 6s-6d-3s. After Blieden checked, Lewis bet 400,000. Blieden called and the turn card was the Qh. Blieden checked again and Lewis moved all-in. Blieden called and showed As-Qd for two pair, queens and sixes. Lewis had pocket 10s and needed a 10 on the river to stay alive. The river was the 6h, eliminating Lewis and giving Blieden the win.

For the second-place finish, Lewis received $600,630.