More than 400 players returned to the Commerce Casino for Day 2 of the 2009 LA Poker Classic Main Event. While WPT front man Antonio Esfandiari built a massive stack, big-name pros Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Gavin Griffin and Mike Matusow were sent packing. Another big story was that of Kofi Farkye, a relative newcomer to tournament poker who finished Day 2 nipping at Esfandiari's heels for the chip lead.
Farkye shared a table for much the day with Hellmuth and David Chiu, but he refused to let the star power of his opponents intimidate him. In one big hand he fired a bet on a flop and got one caller. Farkye led out again when the came on the turn, and his opponent committed almost half his stack with the call. The river prompted a shove from Farkye, who stacked up even more chips as his opponent mucked.
While Farkye was building his chip stack, Antonio Esfandiari was creating a mountain of chips all his own. Just a few minutes after taking down a big pot with for a turned two pair on a board of , Esfandiari tangled with fellow big stack K.J. Nam in a big pot. After the flop, the board read . Esfandiari led out for a nearly pot-sized bet, and Nam raised to slightly more than triple his bet. Esfandiari went deep into the tank before making the call. Esfandiari check the turn, then Nam led out for less than half the pot. Sensing weakness, Esfandiari went for the check-raise, and added another 100,000 to his stack after Nam folded.
As Esfandiari was storming to the chip lead, his "I Bet You" partner Phil Laak was headed for the exit. Laak busted in a big hand with Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier that found all the chips in the middle preflop. Laak opened with a raise, then Grospellier three-bet from the big blind. Laak moved all in over the top without hesitation, and Grospellier called just as quickly with . Laak was in trouble with , and when the board ran out , Laak headed for the exit. Other notable eliminations included Kevin Saul, David Oppenheim and Amir Vahedi.
At the end of the day, it was Esfandiari in the lead with Farkye close behind, but lurking in the field were some dangerous pros. In addition to 2008 champ Phil Ivey and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier; the survivors included Chris Ferguson, Jeff "ActionJeff" Garza, and online star Mike Sowers, who burst onto the live scene in 2008 with a final table at the WSOP.
The overnight top ten:
Antonio Esfandiari — 405,000
Kofi Farkye -- 391,000
Mike Sowers -- 337,900
Anthony Venturini -- 211,800
Haralabos Voulgaris -- 210,400
KJ Nam -- 200,500
Jason Dewitt -- 191,800
Adam Geyer -- 188,000
Cody Slaubaugh -- 183,100
Bertrand Grospellier -- 178,900
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