WPT L.A. Poker Classic begins today

Commerce Casino

After a month of battle at one of the finest cardrooms in the United States, professionals and amateurs alike will step up to the felt today for the start of the World Poker Tour's L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship Event.

The tournament, a stalwart on the scene since the inception of the WPT, is one of the most popular stops on the circuit. The field has grown exponentially every year the tournament's been on the WPT schedule, from 135 players in 2003 to a monstrous 791 runners last year.

Because many professionals ply their trade at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and thanks to its close proximity to Las Vegas, the L.A. Poker Classic also routinely draws the biggest names in the poker world, with many now-familiar names having made their first big wins in the event.

The world was first exposed to the maniacal style and success of the Great Dane, Gus Hansen, when he won the first L.A. Poker Classic in 2003. 2004 saw Antonio Esfandiari make his first significant win and he was followed in 2005 by another first-timer who's now well-known, David "The Dragon" Pham. While he hasn't captured one of the preliminary events, he has made three final tables and has to be viewed as a threat to take the Big Prize.

For dark horse candidates, you have a host of pros to choose from including Paul Darden (one of the most underrated professional players around) and Chris Bjorin, who have eight cashes between them in preliminary tournaments at the Commerce.

Speculation about who will win the L.A. Poker Classic will only intensify once the cards hit the air. PokerListings.com will be there in full force to document the proceedings in the Live Tournaments section and, come next Thursday, there will be a new champion on the World Poker Tour at the L.A. Poker Classic.

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