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Zal Irani Defeats 2,296 Entrants to Win Chicago Poker Classic Opening Event for $100K

Zal Irani

The Seventh Annual Chicago Poker Classic (CPC), which consists of 10 official events, kicked off late last week at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. Event #1: $360 No-Limit Hold'em featured six starting flights and attracted 2,296 entrants, which created a prize pool of $684,208. After four days of play, Chicago poker pro Zal Irani won the title at his home casino for $100,000 and a $2,000 seat into the CPC Main Event.

"I couldn't pick any other place I'd want to play," Irani said after the win. "Las Vegas in the summer is fun for the World Series [of Poker], but coming into [the Horseshoe], honestly it reminds me of playing football in high school. I walk in here and it feels like home. I couldn't ask for anything better. It's hard not feeling pretty confident being in this place."

Irani, a 43-year-old former certified financial planner, is no stranger to success at the Horseshoe Hammond since turning pro in 2012; in fact, the latest win marked his third six-figure score at the casino, his 15th overall cash, and his ninth final table appearance. Irani previously won the last event of the 2014 CPC, the $350 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo, for $27,521 and a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat, meaning he has technically won back-to-back CPC events.

Irani's other two big scores at the Horseshoe Hammond were fifth in the 2012 WSOP Circuit $1,675 Main Event for $104,371, and runner-up in a 2013 CPC $350 no-limit hold'em event for $104,275. Irani's latest score has brought his lifetime tournament earnings up to $717,637.

"In this place, I can't ever swap or sell," Irani laughed while confirming that he had 100 percent of himself. "I cut [my mom] off this time, which was hard to do."

Final Table Results

1Zal Irani$100,000 + $2,000 seat
2Anthony Parille$61,166 + $2,000 seat
3Michael Hahn$40,100 + $2,000 seat
4Edward Nassif II$28,500
5John Rumishek$21,500
6Dae Kim$16,300
7Theodore Zalesiak$12,400
8Ryan Gray$9,450
9Allen Lanier$7,210
10Maurice Dankha$5,502

The tournament featured a fairly unique format in the top 20 percent of players were paid, but just the top five percent of each flight advanced to Day 2. As such, many Day 1 casualties earned a min-cash, but it was the 115 surviving players that played for the big money on Day 2.

In other CPC news, Chicago-based general contractor David Arfa topped a field of 165 entrants to win Event #3: $500 Pot-Limit Omaha for $18,496.

"I'm not a big tournament guy," Afra told officials after the win. "I'm more of a cash game player. I play for fun. I play to win, but I play for fun more than anything. [Poker is] not my job."

This year's CPC series began March 5 and runs through March 16 with the $2,000 Main Event beginning March 13. For a look at the remaining schedule, click here.

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