Retired Fisherman Wins Commerce Casino’s Million Dollar Guaranteed

Nam Le
Nam Le made the final day, but still couldn't get past newly crowned Commerce Casino Summer Guaranteed Million Dollar Tournament winner Rick Bakovic.

A 68-year-old retired fisherman from San Pedro, California landed a big score this week, winning Commerce Casino’s first ever summer Guaranteed Million Dollar Tournament.

Rick Bakovic won the title and $173,500 first-place prize defeating a healthy 3,300-player field in the $335 buy-in event in the Los Angeles area Tuesday.

"It's the thrill of a lifetime," said Bakovic, who has been playing five tournaments a week for the past five years, but never cashed for more than $22,000.

"It just goes to show that if I can do it, anyone can."

A unique feature at Commerce Casino, this event gave players the option of entering or re-entering on any of the first five days. The top 27 players advanced each day to the final, leaving 135 to battle it out for the big money.

Famous faces like John Phan, Bruce Buffer, Shannon Elizabeth, Maria Ho, Joe Tehan, Archie Karas and former L.A. Poker Classic winner Eric Hershler all played.

David "Dragon" Pham, Nam Le and "Miami" John Cernuto made it to the final day, but not the final table.

Despite a $59,500 overlay, Commerce officials say this event will be back on its schedule.

"Clearly our initial Guaranteed Million Dollar Summer Tournament was a major hit, and we are thrilled that so many players responded to a tournament that was just announced a couple of weeks ago," said Casino Manager Jeff Harris.

"With this demonstration of interest in a low-buy-in, high-payout summer event, Commerce Casino has already committed to another Guaranteed Million Dollar event for summer 2011, following on the heels of the L.A. Poker Classic opening event in February."

Next up on the Commerce schedule is the Hold'em Series beginning Sept. 1.

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