The LA Poker Classic is the biggest tournament series of the year outside of the World Series of Poker – 48 days of poker tournaments (matching the length of the WSOP), with buy-ins ranging from $75 all the way up to a $25,000 High Roller.
Matt Savage is in his sixth year as the Tournament Director for the LAPC and other Commerce poker series’ and, alongside Tournament Coordinator Sam Quinto, he’s helped to build this series into a can’t-miss opportunity for poker players.
“The fact that you have so many games that get spread at the LAPC that you don’t see anywhere during the year, except at the World Series of Poker, is something we’re proud of,” said Savage, “And the response has been great. We’re happy with the numbers, and the cash games downstairs are even more evidence of a great turnout for this event.”
The 2014 LAPC is quickly winding towards an end, with the $10,000 Main Event set to begin on Saturday afternoon. The preliminary events have already been a great success, with millions of dollars in prize money already awarded.
“We had the $1 million guarantee to open the series, and we met it, which is always a good thing,” said Savage. “As we played up to the Main Event, the [$1,600] Playboy event doubled its guarantee of $500,000, and we’re obviously happy about that, and our partnership with them.”
Expectations will be high going into the televised WPT Main Event – the LA Poker Classic has been part of the WPT schedule since Season 1, and it’s the unofficial kick-off for the second half of Season XII. This year it kicks off a three-stop West Coast swing, along with the Bay 101 Shooting Star and an event at the Thunder Valley Casino outside of Sacramento.
For his part, Savage has high hopes for this year’s Main Event. With mega satellites guaranteeing upwards of 25 seats a day and single table satellites running day and night at the Commerce, he has good reason to be optimistic.
“I actually suspect that we’ll beat our number from last year, of 517,” said Savage. “Any time you can do that, it’s an accomplishment.”
While almost every other event on the WPT schedule has dropped their buy-in to better suit players and venues, the LAPC has remained at $10,000 and has consistently drawn a strong crowd.
“It’s the Commerce,” said Savage, “It’s the world’s largest poker casino, and it’s always been a big draw for the World Poker Tour. We though this year, for sure, we’d keep it at a $10,000 buy-in and then look at it again next year – we look at it every year and analyze where we’re at. “When we looked at it last year, we considered both re-entry and no-re-entry options and decided to do without. I think having no re-entries kind of helps to maintain a championship feel.”
While Savage was something of an innovator in terms of re-entry tournaments, he’s wary of the way some tournament events have adapted the format over the last few years.
“I definitely feel like there’s a place for them,” said Savage. “I don’t think the way to do it is same day re-entry, or same heat re-entry. When I started doing these re-entry events back in 2010, it was about bringing players back into your casino again the next day – it was never about collecting more rake.”
The full effects of the re-entry format on tournament poker likely won’t be known for years, but Savage points to other parties who suffer from these events going overboard.
“Not only do re-entries hurt the industry, and hurt poker players,” said Savage. “It affects other parts of the casino. If you have multiple entries within the same heat of an event, you lose players in the cash games, you lose players in the satellites, and you might miss bringing them back to the tournament the next day. When players are blowing their bankrolls on one tournament, they’re not going to come back to play your other events.”
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