"It's one of those fantasies you have that you think will never happen and it happened." -- Sean Jazayeri
On Wednesday night, amateur Sean Jazayeri shocked a final table full of superstars to win the $10,000 buy-in L.A. Poker Classic main event title and $1.3 million. He entered the final table with the chip lead and showed a great deal of patience, despite his inexperience, and finally won a life-changing coin flip against David "Doc" Sands heads-up to lead him to his first World Poker Tour Title.
"This is the ultimate," said Jazayeri after his victory. "This is unbelievable. Aside from [incredible family experiences], I don't think anything matches this."
When poker fans looked at the lineup at the final table, it was one of those times where talent and experience could be found in just about every seat. Even though many hadn't heard of the chip leader Jazayeri, he earned $166,679 at the tournament felt prior to this event. In second to begin the final table was Sands, an online-bred talent who finished 30th in the WSOP main event in 2011. Three-time WPT final table participant Noah Schwartz was behind Sands, then bracelet winners Dan Kelly and Jason Somerville and finally 2009 Festa al Lago fifth-place finisher Jason Burt. The word "stacked" may have been an understatement to describe the ability of the final six.
The final table was broadcast online on a 30-minute delay with hole cards allowing poker fans everywhere to watch the best at work. While Jazayeri played relatively straightforward, Sands and Kelly demonstrated extensive creativity as the table became even more shorthanded.
Jay Newnum/LAPC Sean Jazayeri earned $1.3 million for his victory in the LA Poker Classic main event.
After leading the tournament for most of the six-day event, Somerville was the first player eliminated from the final table on the second hand of play. According to the World Poker Tour, Somerville open shoved from under the gun with pocket eights and was called by the A-Q of Jazayeri. After a clean board through the turn, a river queen eliminated Somerville in sixth. He earned $202,910, which is his fourth-best tournament cash of his highly-successful career.
Just like Somerville, Burt was also one river card away from being in contention for the title. After doubling up early, Burt and Kelly had stacks separated by less than 10 big blinds and got involved in a 4.5 million-chip pot on the 12th hand of the night. In a blind versus blind confrontation, Burt raised to 160,000 and Kelly called. The flop came K-4-3 and Burt led out for 180,000. Kelly called, and after a queen hit the turn, Burt bet 370,000 and Kelly moved all-in. Burt made the call with top pair (K-J) and was momentarily ahead of the J-10 of Kelly, but dejection flushed over him after a river ace completed Kelly's straight. Burt earned $252,980 for a fifth place finish.
Four-handed play continued for 22 hands and throughout that time, Jazayeri simply maintained his chip-leading stack as Schwartz continued to look for a spot to double up. On the 34th hand of the final table, Jazayeri opened and was called by Kelly. Holding A-J, Schwartz moved all-in and watched as Jazayeri moved all-in over the top prompting a fold by Kelly. Schwartz found himself in a tough spot facing Jazayeri's K-K and was eliminated in fourth when his hand couldn't improve.
Staring at a 25-big blind stack to begin three-handed action, Sands opted to make his move. He doubled up against Kelly holding K-9 to Kelly's A-8 and then played aggressively to dominate the table and build his stack. After taking most of Kelly's stack in a prior confrontation, he opted for a coin flip to finish him off, holding 2-2 to Kelly's K-J. The board ran 7-4-4-4-3 and Kelly was eliminated in third for $521,770.
Sands began heads-up play in complete control of Jazayeri and build nearly a 2:1 lead, but fortunes changed quickly. On the 89th hand of the final table, Sands opened to 280,000 (blinds 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante), Jazayeri raised to 800,000, Sands four-bet to 1.8 million and Jazayeri moved all-in for a total of 6.9 million. Sands called instantly with Q-Q and Jazayeri showed A-K. It was a flip for $1.3 million and as an ace hit the flop, Jazayeri took control of the battle. On the very next hand, Sands moved all-in for 2.5 million with K-Q and was called by Jazayeri's A-5. The flop brought Sands top pair (K-10-5) and the turn jack removed the aces as cards for concern. However, the river had been kind to Jazayeri all night and once again, Jazayeri found one of his five outs (a five), and became the latest WPT champion eliminating Sands. This was Sands sixth six-figure tournament cash in the past 10 months.
"You dream about it, you fantasize about it, but in my heart I never thought this could happen," Jazayeri said. "It's a real dream come true."
To make his story even more remarkable for the WPT, Jazayeri is a graduate of the WPT Boot Camp, a poker training experience sponsored by the company.
The 522-player field was much smaller than the main event in 2011 when 681 players competed for a $6.5 million prize pool. That said, the LAPC remains one of the biggest and most successful stops on the 2012 WPT schedule. The next event is the Bay 101 Shooting Stars which begins on March 5.
Here are the complete results from the 2012 LA Poker Classic final table:
1. Sean Jazayeri ($1,370,240)
2. David Sands ($806,370)
3. Dan Kelly ($521,770)
4. Noah Schwartz ($355,750)
5. Jason Burt ($252,980)
6. Jason Somerville ($202,910)
Small blinds:The parent company of the Epic Poker League, Federated Sports & Gaming, filed for Chapter 11 and released a note to the poker community on their web site. Epic Commissioner Annie Duke said they still hope to complete the first season, but the fourth event and the championship are not scheduled at this time. Phil Hellmuth won LAPC Event 49, the $2,080 eight-game mix. PokerStars announced their "MicroMillions", a micro stakes tournament series with 100 events and $5 million guaranteed. 58-year-old Jim Harnden won the 778-entry WSOP Circuit main event title at the Palm Beach Kennel Club for $226,395. Terry Presley was the latest Heartland Poker Tour champion, earning $76,892 with his victory in the event held in Oklahoma. Mickey Petersen defeated Pierre Neuville heads-up to win the EPT Copenhagen title. Ryan Lang, one of the men named in the Black Friday indictments, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit tax fraud and violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. He'll be sentenced on September 24, 2012. Poker After Dark is returning to television. Unseen shows taped in 2010 will be broadcast on the NBC Sports network. Bluff magazine has released their annual list of the Poker Power 20. The Chicago Poker Classic main event begins on March 2. The $3,125 buy-in event has $60,000 in added prize money put in by the casino. The Latin American Poker Tour kicks off its third season on March 21 in Chile.