WPT Legends of Poker 2017

The card sharps on the 2017-18 World Poker Tour will soon be hitting the legendary Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens, Los Angeles for the WPT Legends of Poker event. This dollar-laden competition commences on August 25, with a $3,700 + $300 buy in and a prize fund that's likely to reach $3 million.

One year ago California's Pat Lyons took the top cash pot of $615,346, more than doubling his career tournament earnings. Lyons' win followed on from a $241,700 win at the 12th Annual Arizona State Poker Championship just two weeks previously. Since his legendary win, Pat has only finished in the money in two further tournaments, at the WPT Rolling Thunder, Lincoln in March, and the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, Hollywood in April.

So, who will join the poker legends this time around? Here we take a look at the event, the venue, and the main competitors.

The 2017-18 World Poker Tour so far …

Season XVI of the World Poker tour began back in April, with the WPT Beijing event at the NUO Hotel in Chaoyang Qu. In the largely Asian field Pete Yanhan Chen of Taiwan took the winning pot of $299,485, virtually doubling his tournament career earnings. 2017 has been a record-breaking year for Pete with big money finishes at the 2017 PokerStars Championship, Macau in early April and the 2017 Macau Poker Cup in February.

The tour then moved on to Europe with the WPT event in Amsterdam in the second week of May. In his first-ever cash finish, Daniyar Aubakirov of Kazakstan took the top prize of $169,386. Two weeks later Aubakirov proved that this was no once-in-a-lifetime feat as he finished in the money at the 2017 PokerStars Championship in Sochi.

The 2017-18 WPT Legends of Poker event

This event kicked off on July 28 and will run until August 31, with the main event starting on August 25 and running for seven days. There are thirty-one events altogether, with the big money events being as follows:

  • July 29-Aug 1 : $240 No-Limit Hold'em Quantum $200k GTD
  • Aug 4-9 : $240 No-Limit Hold'em Quantum 4500k GTD
  • Aug 11-22 : $160/$550 No-Limit Hold'em Mega Millions XVII $1 Million GTD
  • Aug 23-39 : $240/$350 Big H.O.R.S.E. Quantum $100K GTD
  • Aug 25-31 : $4,000 No-Limit Hold'em (Main Event)
  • Aug 29-31 : $240 No-Limit Hold'em $100K GTD

The main event will start off at noon on a three-day 'day one' basis over August 25, 26 and 27. Survivors will progress on to day two on August 28 and so on on a daily basis until the final table, commencing at noon on August 31.

The Venue

The Bicycle Hotel & Casino (locally known as 'The Bike') is California's premier poker card room, and is located in Bell Gardens, close to Los Angeles. The hotel was established in 1984, and has been home to the Legends of Poker tournament since 1995. It also became the first established bricks and mortar online casino to broadcast live poker games directly over the internet. These broadcasts (named 'Live at The Bike') were available via the casino's website, and were available five nights a week.

As well as being a hotel and a card room, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino is a major entertainment and dining venue in Los Angeles.

Last year's event

As mentioned above, it was California's Pat Lyons who took home the top pot at last year's event, which of course was also held at The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens.

Only six competitors remained on the final day of play:

  • Pat Lyons (California, USA)
  • Benjamin Zamani (Boca Raton, USA)
  • Upeshka De Silva (Katy, USA)
  • Todd Peterson (Superior, USA)
  • William Vo (Pacific Palisades, USA)
  • Rafael Oliveira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

At the commencement of the final day of play it was William Vo who was the overnight chip leader, with Lyons in second place. After only seven hands the final six became a final five, when Oliveira busted with a pair of jacks against De Silva's three sixes. Barely a hand or two later Lyons had overtaken a fading Vo as the top of the chips.

In fact the veteran Vo was the next to go, finishing in fifth place. He surprisingly went through with an ace-king high combination against De Silva's pair of jacks. This hand also saw Da Silva move slightly ahead of Lyons as the player with the most chips.

Da Silva's lead did not last long though, and by the time Todd Peterson was eliminated in fourth place, Lyons was back on top.

Only three players remained, then – Lyons, Zamani and De Silva. So far De Silva had managed to eliminate all three players who'd been evicted on the final day, so it was something of a surprise when De Silva was the next man to go. De Silva went all in before the flop with a pair of jacks against queen-ten, but a queen turned up on the river and it was time for the 2015 WSOP bracelet winner to stand up from the table.

As the heads-up began Lyons had twice the chips of his opponent, Zamani. Less than twenty hands later Lyons went all in with an ace-eight which Zamani called with an ace-deuce. The dealer dished out two nines, a seven, a jack and a ten completing a straight for Lyons, and winning him the main pot. As well as $615,346 Lyons received the WPT Champions trophy, a pair of gold Monster 24k headphones and a Hublot King Power watch.

The potential competitors for 2017-18

Although the entry list for the 2017-18 WPT Legends of Poker event will not be confirmed until the days leading up to the main event, here are a few names that are likely to be invited, and are even more likely to be still tossing in their chips on the final day.

Benjamin Zamani

The current WPT Player of the Year, Zamani did not actually win an event on the WPT last year, but still managed three final table placings. He finished second in Choctaw and at the Legends of Poker event, and fifth at Maryland Live. What's even more remarkable about Zamani's performance last season is the fact that he only entered four events, and his only 'non final table' placing was at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown where he finished 101st.

Zamani's performance in 2016 was enough to see him crowned WPT Player of the Year, for which he was awarded a unique, custom-made Hublot watch that's valued at $20,000. If Zamani does compete in this years' WPT Legends of Poker, he will be looking to go one better than losing the heads-up as he did last year to Pat Lyons.

On the WPT last season Zamani made almost $850,000, to add to the $4 million in career earnings he has made so far. 2017 has been a good year so far for Zamani too. He won the $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event and finish fourth in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event at the 48th WSOP in Las Vegas.

Sam Panzica

Many poker pundits thought that Sam Panzica had done enough to earn the WPT Player of the Year title last season, but when the final reckoning came the Fort Lauderdale resident's results were just not good enough, despite ending the tour earning double what Zamani achieved ($1,766,419 to $846,616).

Panzica won two titles last term, the only player to win twice. Panzica gained first place at the bestbet Bounty Scramble in Jacksonville, and then matched that with first place at the Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament in San Jose. He entered four WPT main tour tournaments in total, finishing 40th at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale, and 64th at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Upon the final totting up, Panzica finished second on the WPT main tour leaderboard too, finishing behind James Romero. This was especially unfortunate for Panzica, as Romero had only entered (and of course subsequently won) a single competition, the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, taking home nearly $2 million in the process.

If he enters, the WPT Legends of Poker event will be Panzica's first event on the 2017-18 tour.

Anthony Spinella

Spinella made it to four events last term, but did not feature in the WPT Legends of Poker event. This time around, however, Spinella might just find himself seated at The Bicycle Hotel & Casino.

North Carolina resident Spinella finished eighth in the final reckoning last season, only one place below WPT Player of the Year Benjamin Zamani. Spinella's best performance on the main WPT tour last term was at the Bay 101 Shooting Star event, when he finished second to Sam Panzica. Spinella entered the heads-up with Panzica firmly in second place, and with a third of the chips compared to what Panzica was holding. Five hands later it was all over – Spinella went in with a matched ace-eight only to hit Panzica's ace-ten. The board was no help to Spinella whatsoever, leaving Panzica the victor. Spinella's consolation was $746,610 as the runners-up prize.

Spinella has yet to enter a WPT main tour event this year but has been extremely busy on the circuit. He won the $600 No Limit Hold'em – SuperStack at the March Weekend Extravaganza in Las Vegas, and finished third in the $2,000 No Limit Hold'em Goliath Main Event, also in Las Vegas.

Spinella is closing in on $3 million in career poker earnings.

Coverage of the 2017-18 WPT Legends of Poker event

You can find coverage of the 2017-18 WPT Legends of Poker event online at various sites, including the WPT site itself. If you are based in the USA then at 8pm ET on Sundays and 11pm ET on Wednesdays, the Fox Sports Network will broadcast highlights from the event. The FSN show is anchored by Lynn Gilmartin with additional support given by Tony Dunst, Vince Van Patten, Matt Savage and the Royal Flush Crew.

If you're not a resident of the USA then check your local TV listing for coverage of this or any other WPT events.