LA Poker Classic Final Table: Cornel Andrew Cimpan Favored by Fortune
The final table of the LA Poker Classic Main Event started off as a "Chris" battle, as former WPT champ Chris Karagulleyan and former WSOP Main Event champ Chris Ferguson squared off, but it became the Cornel Andrew Cimpan show before the night was over. During a marathon heads-up match, Cimpan came from behind time and again to eventually triumph over Binh Nguyen, who continually got his chips in good only to see Cimpan draw out for the pot, and eventually the $1,686,250 first prize.
Play started off methodically at the final table, with several hours passing before the first elimination. Eventually the rising blinds and antes forced the action, and it was the short-stacked Ferguson who headed to the rail first. After leading earlier in the tourney, Chris Ferguson came into the final table as the shortest stack. In his final hand, Ferguson raised preflop and found one caller in Cornel Andrew Cimpan. After Ferguson checked the flop, Cimpan wasted no time moving all in. Ferguson went deep into the tank, even more than his normal deliberate style of play, but finally made the call with . Cimpan's pocket fours were ahead on the flop, and the on the turn did nothing to change that. When the came down on the river, Ferguson held only one pair to Cimpan's two, and he became the first to exit from the final table. His sixth-place finish was worth $240,538.
Pat Walsh was next to fall when he called all in preflop with and found himself trailing Binh Nguyen's . The board ran out , and Walsh picked up $310,694 for fifth place. Fourth-place money was reserved for former chip leader Chris Karagulleyan, who busted at the hands of eventual champ Andrew Cimpan. All the chips went in preflop, and Karagulleyan was ahead with to Cimpan's . In what would become a pattern for the night, Cimpan was behind on the flop, but caught up when the turn brought the to give him trips. The was no help for Karagulleyan, and he was done in fourth place ($430,963).
Only a few minutes after Karagulleyan headed to the rail, big stack Mike Sowers ran afoul of Binh Nguyen to exit in third place ($654,797). Sowers raised preflop with , and Nguyen three-bet big. Sowers moved all in over the top, and Nguyen called before Sowers could get all his chips in the middle. Nguyen tabled , and when the board ran out Nguyen's queens up were enough to send Sowers home in third place. After eliminating Sowers, Nguyen held nearly a 2:1 chip lead going into heads-up play, with 8.45 million to Cimpan's 5.47 million.
Heads-up play was a marathon wrapped around a bad-beat story, as over the course of nearly five hours Cornel Andrew Cimpan came from behind again and again, usually on the river, to save his tournament life. Binh Nguyen held the chip lead for almost the entire heads-up match, and on several occasions had Cimpan drawing to three outs or runner-runner outs for the tournament. But Cimpan held on and finally took the chip lead from Nguyen. In the final hand, Cimpan was again behind when the chips went in. After the dust cleared on the preflop raises, Cimpan tabled to Nguyen's . The flop ended most of the suspense, as a five in the door gave Cimpan a pair. By the turn, the board read , and Nguyen needed help on the river to survive. But he wasn't the player getting river help this day, and when the was the last card to fall, Nguyen was busted as the runner-up for $935,424.
After six days of poker, with nearly 700 top players from the US and around the world competing, Cornel Andrew Cimpan became the latest World Poker Tour champion, with the trophy and a life-changing $1,686,260 for his efforts.