It was an undeniable career year for Mike Leah in 2014, who put together one of the strongest BLUFF Player of the Year campaigns in recent memory only to fall just short thanks to arguably the greatest year in the modern era by Dan Colman.
In 2014, Leah had five wins including his first career bracelet and two WSOP Circuit rings, at two WSOP final tables and three WSOPC final tables, respectively. He also had two big second place finishes, including his first seven-figure cash at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open.
One thing Leah didn’t have among the multitude of those achievements was a big result on the World Poker Tour. Leah, in fact, had never finished better than 35th in a WPT event with just two cashes to his name in Main Tour events going into the 2015 LA Poker Classic.
Things changed in a dramatic way at the Commerce, as Leah emerged as one of the chipleaders by Day 4 of the LAPC and carried that stack all the way through to his first career WPT final table.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Leah. “As you said, it was my first time getting to [a WPT final table], and I don’t even think I’ve ever watched one live. The whole production and everything was fun to be a part of and it was a little big bigger than I even thought it would be.”
“It was going really well,” said Leah. “At one point I think I had almost 11 million out of 16 million in play with four left. I kind of thought things were going to go my way.”
Just as it seemed to be pointing towards Leah adding a WPT title to his recent WSOP bracelet win, one hand went the wrong way and it all snowballed out of control from there. Leah did manage to get heads-up with Zinno, albeit at a significant disadvantage, only to run into pocket aces.
“I lost a few flips and I ended up getting pretty shallow,” said Leah, “And I was up against a couple of other really good players. I’m definitely disappointed I didn’t win, but happy with the result – the second biggest score of my career. It was a good week.”
Despite some tough breaks along the way at the final table, Leah embraced his opportunity and seemed have a lot of fun with it. He even when walked behind Zinno at one point during the final table to sweat out an all in flop, ala Phil Laak.
“For sure, yeah, I enjoy poker almost all the time,” said Leah. “Sometimes you kind of forget that it’s a game and that it’s fun. For the most part I enjoy playing and I really like the competition, and when I’m playing against guys that I respect and that I like, and have a kind of a personal relationship with, it makes it a bit more fun.”
Even with three big results in the SHRPO, WSOP APAC High Roller and LAPC, Leah’s pretty hard on himself in assessing what he feels was a pretty disappointing period of time in the middle of it all.
“I definitely played three really, really good tournaments in those three big scores,” said Leah. “I had a really awful three months in between my Australia win and second place in LA. It’s kind of weird. I definitely have played really, really good poker in those tournaments specifically, and I picked some really good tournaments to do it in because of the huge prizepools.”
“It’s not like I’m consistently at the top of my game,” continued Leah, “But I definitely know I have the ability to play with anyone and I go into every tournament now kind of feeling that I know I can win if I can get a hold of some chips.”
He’s among the last five Shooting Stars in the field at Bay 101 as they head into the dinner break, and while another deep run is a lot of poker away he’s still going at it at full bore.
“Things were going really well early today,” said Leah. “I got up over 300K at the first break, but now I’m nursing a short stack getting close to the money, so we’ll see what happens.”
He picked up chips again in the lead-up to dinner, earning a double with one big river card.
— Mike Leah (@GoLeafsGoEh) March 12, 2015
In his selection as a Shooting Star, Leah’s achieved another career milestone that recognizes just how far he’s come since he last made is way to Bay 101.
“I played it once before, quite a few years ago, maybe like four or five,” said Leah. “It’s a really unique tournament and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun with bounties and stuff. It seems to be a more social tournament than most. It’s cool, it’s been fun here too.”
BLUFF Poker Player Power Rankings (as of March 2)
- Mike Leah – 1,488.59 (+3)
- Daniel Colman – 1,440.65 (-)
- Joe Kuether – 1,429.62 (-2)
- Ole Schemion – 1,411.02 (-1)
- Scott Seiver – 1,278.42 (-)
- Daniel Negreanu – 1,255.54 (-)
- Pratyush Buddiga – 1,169.91 (-)
- Mukul Pahuja – 1,160.94 (-)
- Davidi Kitai – 1,149.96 (-)
- Dan Smith – 1,132.26 (-)
- Joe McKeehen – 1,080.84 (-)
- Jason Mercier – 1,072.67 (+1)
- Aaron Massey – 1,068.97 (+1)
- David Peters – 1,055.40 (+2)
- Olivier Busquet – 1,049.42 (-)
- Martin Jacobson – 1,042.96 (+2)
- Jeff Madsen – 1,042.93 (-)
- Ami Barer – 1,023.15 (+1)
- Byron Kaverman – 1,018.33 (+1)
- Ari Engel – 1,010.50 (NR)
Dropped from Rankings: Paul Volpe (12th)
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