First-timer adds name to World Poker Tour history
After 520 players entered the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event at the world-famous Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, it was a man playing his first-ever WPT Main Event who had his name on the legendary Champions Cup at the end of the tournament. Aaron Van Blarcum won the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event for $474,390 and will return to the end of season WPT Tournament of Champions as one of the stories of the year.
With the venue for last week’s WPT Legends of Poker Main Event as big a character as any of the players, there was always a chance that ‘Live at the Bike’ might become as notorious in Google searches this week – especially after another viral moment captured the public’s attention at the cash tables. However, poker is all about the players, and Aaron Van Blarcum has carved his name into poker folklore with his ‘zero to hero’ win against all the odds.
The $5,000-entry event is always heavily populated, and the latest installment of the series, re-introduced onto the WPT schedule after a year’s hiatus, was no different. Previous winners, tournament regulars, sharks circled in the water. But into that water swam a cash game player who fancied a change of pace. When Aaron Van Blarcum pitched up in the Main Event, he was doing so in hope more than expectation.
The unknown quantity, Van Blarcum had just $75,000 in tournament results prior to the event, and who was making his first-ever attempt at a WPT Main Event might be encouraged to return to tournaments rather than cash games in the future after scything through the field in impressive fashion.
With over $2.4 million in the prize-pool, big names such as Kitty Kuo and Brian Altman were on every other table. It would be Taylor Black who bubbled the event, but by the time the final table was reached, Van Blarcum was one of five Americans, the Greek player Antonios Roungeris the only player from outside the United States who made the final six.
Starting the final table as the short stack, Van Blarcum went on a tear up the leaderboard as he fearlessly fought for the win and it was perhaps this momentum that gave him an edge as everyone ended up tossed to one side by the runaway train that was the player from Dallas, Texas. His pocket jacks held up against Roungeris’s pocket sevens to pre-empt the Greek player’s early departure. But it was only the beginning.
From some mistimed bluffs to some expert bets for value, Van Blarcum had his pedal to the metal the entire final table. He turned a flush to bust Jisup Hwang. He again conquered pocket sevens, this time belonging to Jared Griener, when his pocket nines held up. Suddenly, Van Blarcum was heads-up for the win.
Despite losing his early lead at one point, Van Blarcum bullied it back, and when Gueorgui Gantchev called off Van Blarcum’s four-bet all-in with pocket tens, Gantchev’s pocket fives needed help they were never going to get. Van Blarcum would not be denied and his win crowned an entertaining tournament with a remarkable Cinderella ending.
Final table results:
|1||Aaron Van Blarcum||$474,390*|
* includes entry into the $15,000 season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions