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WPT Legends rides again at Bicycle
It's late August and the poker world has officially shaken off the post-WSOP doldrums now that it's time once again for the Bicycle Casino's Legends of Poker main event in Bell Gardens, Calif.
A true legend
Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, The Bike has been playing host to the poker world in August since 1995. The Championship Event's history has been a roller-coaster one, though, and its eventual success is one of the bright spots in the history of the WPT.
The first Legends main event drew 56 players with a buy-in of $5,000, and counted among its final table the likes of 1990 WSOP Main Event champion Mansour Matloubi and now-nine-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel.
The buy-in dropped to $2,500 for the next few years but the event continued to draw small fields until 1999, when the buy-in fell further to $2,000 and 121 players showed up to contest a tournament eventually won by Kevin Song.
That boost in attendance was enough to convince organizers to raise the buy-in to $5,000 for the next two years, but in 2001 the Championship Event drew only 35 players, and its future was in doubt.
The bright lights
Then the WPT came to town in 2002, drawing a total of 134 players and paying winner Chris Karagulleyan $258,000. Since that day the Legends has been one of the more popular stops on the tour and has seen its share of classic moments.
Doyle Brunson topped what was at the time the largest field in the tournament's history back in 2004, outlasting a field of 667 to take home $1,198,260 - an astonishing amount for a $5,000 tournament.
The very next year, Alex Kahaner topped a field of 839 to take home $1,150,900 as the 2005 Legends of Poker champion. In the process he defeated a final table lineup that included Kenna James, Tim Phan, Old School and Road Trip director Todd Phillips, and Kevin O'Donnell.
The last two years have seen declines in attendance from that high-water mark, but the buy-in is now at the $10,000 level and the fields are still packed with hundreds of players from around the world.
PokerListings.com will be on hand as usual to provide the stellar tournament coverage you've come to expect, from the time the first cards get in the air to the moment this year's champion is crowned. Be sure to join us in the Live Tournaments section starting this Saturday at 2 p.m. PST.