David “ODB” Baker Wins WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1,015,000
On Monday, the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic final table played at HyperX Esports Arena inside the Luxor in Las Vegas. It was the first of three WPT final tables over three days to play to a winner.
The big story heading into the final table, which saw six players from the 546-player freezeout field return to action, was Darren Elias' quest for a fifth WPT title, though some stiff competition stood between him and that goal including World Series of Poker bracelet winner David “ODB” Baker and WPT champ Matas Cimbolas.
The title actually came down to that triumvirate, but in the end, both Elias and Cimbolas were denied as 46-year-old Baker emerged victorious to capture his first WPT title, seven-figure score, and no-limit hold’em win.
“It kind of sounds corny, but it really means so much to me,” Baker told WPT officials after his win. “I’ve battled my whole life in this business, I care about this business, I care about the prestige of these things and I know some of the guys are a little too cool for school. But I’ve had a glaring omission on my resumé. I get to check off all those boxes today and I’m overjoyed.”
Final Table Results
|1||David “ODB” Baker||United States||$1,015,000|
|3||Darren Elias||United States||$473,280|
|4||Jean-Claude Moussa||United States||$346,550|
|5||John Smith||United States||$267,400|
|6||Steve Yea||South Korea||$201,650|
ODB Takes Top Spot on Arizona All-Time Money List
Prior to the win, Baker had $4,407,488 in live tournament earnings, including a prior best of $514,926 for finishing third in the 2015 World Series of Poker Event #44: $50,000 Player Championship.
Other highlights on his poker resumé include finishing 17th in the 2010 WSOP Main Event for $396,967, winning the 2012 WSOP Event #37: $2,500 8-Game for $271,312 and a bracelet, and third in a 2010 WSOP $1,000 NLH event for $206,813.
By claiming his first seven-figure score, Baker has also surpassed Jacob Balsiger on top of Arizona’s all-time money list. The latter had $5,042,442 in career earnings, while “ODB” now has $5,409,689.
"Having won in the hometown, in the home casino, obviously, it just means everything.”
Final Table Action
The early and middle stages of the tournament played out in California’s Commerce Casino last week, and that is where Baker led the field on both Days 3 and 4. At the final table, he began second in chips and was cheered on by a large crown including Josh Arieh, John Racener, Cord Garcia, and Ray Henson, all wearing #TeamBaker t-shirts.
According to updates from the event, the first elimination took place on Hand #33 of the final table. That is when South Korea’s Steve Yea jammed holding ace-three suited and ran smack dab into Cimbolas’ pocket jacks. Yea paired his three on the flop but that was all the help he got as both the turn and river bricked.
Three hands later, 72-year-old John Smith got his short stack in with pocket fives only to have Cimbolas wake up with another big pair, this time kings. The cowboys held and Smith hit the rail in fifth place for $267,400.
Five hands after that, Baker notched his first knockout when he raised holding queens and had Jean-Claude Moussa three-bet jam for 10 bigs with ace-ten offsuit. Moussa failed to catch up and took his leave in fourth place for $346,550.
Three-handed play was a long affair lasting more than 100 hands. Eventually, Cimbolas raised the button and Elias shoved with sixes from the small blind. Baker woke up with aces in the big, called off, and doubled big through Elias, who busted a short time later in third place at the hands of Cimbolas.
Baker took a more than 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play and the two would jostle for 39 hands. In Level 33 (150,000/300,000/300,000), on Hand #187 of the final table, Cimbolas limped with ten-five and Baker checked his option with four-five suited.
Baker check-called a bet of 300,000 on the flop and then checked the turn. Cimbolas bet 600,000 and Baker called to see the river, which gave him a straight. Baker bet 10 million and Cimbolas called off for his last 2.975 million. Just like that it was over with Cimbolas finishing as runner-up for $646,930.
To win the L.A.P.C. title clearly meant a lot to Baker.
“I stay at the Commerce 200 days a year,” he said. “It’s my home away from home. I know everybody there and most the people there know me. Most of the people there don’t even realize that I don’t live there. Having won in the hometown, in the home casino, obviously, it just means everything.”
On top of it all, Baker also claimed a $15,000 seat into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions and a Hublot Big Bang Steel Watch.
The next WPT final table to play out will be the Gardens Poker Championship at 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The winner of that event will take home a $548,825 first-place prize, and of course PokerNews will bring you a recap of all the action.
Images courtesy of WPT/Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive.