Los Angeles high stakes cash game pro Art Papazyan bested his poker idol Phil Hellmuth in the heads up of the $4,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Legends of Poker event played this week at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens near LA.
The competition attracted 763 entries, many of them top names in the game, and boasted the second largest entry list in the event’s 16 year history.
14-bracelet WSOP champion Hellmuth, on the hunt for a WPT victory that has so far eluded him despite seven final tables, was clearly disappointed to finish as runner up, but had the consolation of a second prize of $364,370.
JC Tran held the chip lead when the final table of six formed, going after his third WPT trophy along with Martin Rettenmaier, who was one of the low stacks. That third WPT victory did not materialise for either of them; whilst Tran ran deep in the finale, Rettenmaier was one of the two early eliminations.
Four-handed play went on for four hours following the departure of Rettenmaier and Adam Swan, with some intense action and changes in the chip lead. Tran was running good and looked most likely at that point to carry the day, although he was constantly challenged by Papazyan, the two leaving Hellmuth and DJ Alexander trailing.
It was Alexander who busted out at fourth, breaking the long four-handed run. His reward was $161.490, five percent of which he pledged to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey down in Texas and Louisiana.
Tran now looked even stronger with half the chips in play and a significant lead on closest rival Papazyan, with Hellmuth on his heels at third. Then Hellmuth started a run that took him up to the two leaders, with all three finalists more or less even in chips, and in the next few passages of play the lead changed several times among them until Tran was eliminated at third for $217,040.
Entering the heads up Papazyan had a small lead on Hellmuth, and for the next eight to nine hands that was the status quo; then they tussled over a pot that had almost half the chips in play, which Papazyan ultimately won, giving him a 3 to 1 advantage which enabled him to eventually eliminate Hellmuth.