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How to Go From zero to millions

In his very first poker tournament, Eric Hershler  captured $2.4 million in the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino. It was the largest first prize ever for a $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour event. Behind him, from left to right, are the show's hosts: Mike Sexton, Sabina Gadecki, and Vince Van Patten. Commerce Casino is the world's largest poker room.

Saying he started the tournament naturally assuming he had "zero" chance to win since it was his first ever poker tournament, Eric Hershler of Los Angeles showed the pros that you can go from "zero" to $2,429,970 in just five days. The Los Angeles native shocked himself by capturing the record first prize at the L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino, coming from behind to defeat highly regarded J.C. Tran, who was chip leader throughout most of the five-day World Poker Tour event.

Hershler claimed the largest first prize ever for a $10,000 buy-in event on the WPT. More than 791 players entered and he was nowhere on the radar when pundits ranked the chances of the competitors. Hershler, a native of South African, was still pinching himself when the seven-hour tournament ended. For most of the tournament, Tran was the dominant player, but in the closing hour, the first-timer Hershler kept hitting great cards to siphon off Tran's hefty chip stack.

Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070302/NYF048

Two pair-Jacks and Sixes-on the final hand sealed Tran's fate and gave Hershler the victory. In addition to the $2.4 million, Hershler was awarded a $25,000-seat in the WPT World Championship in April at Bellagio in Las Vegas. Tran, of Sacramento, goes home with a very nice consolation prize-- $1,177,010, effectively doubling his career earnings on the WPT. Tran has had three Final Table appearances, including a sixth at the most recent event in Tunica.

For a long time it looked as though the LA Poker Classic would be his breakthrough victory-until he ran into newby Hershler. Hershler joins champions Alan Goehring, who went home with $2,391,550 in 2006, 24-year-old Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi who claimed $1,859,909 in 2005, and another 24-year-old, Antonio Esfandiari, who took home $1,399,135 in 2004.

Fifty-four players shared in the whopping $7,593.600 prize pool this year, largest ever for a World Poker $10,000-buy-in event. Third went to Jacob Fernandez of the Dominican Republic who claimed $607,490; Paul Wasicka of Westminster, CO took fourth with $455,615 that will be added to the $6 million he earned for his second in the 2006 World Series of Poker; legendary cash game player Chau Giang claimed the fifth spot with $341,710 and David Bach of Athens, GA, will apply his sixth-place winnings of $257,425 to his father's kidney replacement. Add the LAPC Main Event's $7.5+ million total prize money to the $9,270,883 awarded in the previous 29 events staged during the month-long LA Poker Classic tournament, and Commerce will have awarded $16,864,483 to players from January 25-March 1.

"What a great fairy tale ending to the best and biggest tournament ever staged in Los Angeles," said Commerce Casino Manager Tim Gustin. Commerce Casino is the largest poker casino in the world. "We are especially pleased that Eric Hershler, a local player, kept the title here in Los Angeles." The 2007 LA Poker Classic WPT final table will be televised on the Travel Channel June 27.

The World Poker Tour airs every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. PT/ET. Commerce Casino Commerce Casino is the largest poker casino in the world. There are more than 200 poker tables featuring just about every form of poker: Texas Hold 'Em, 7-Card Stud, Omaha, Lowball, Pot Limit, Mexican Poker, Pineapple, Draw, Low-Ball and many others. Also offered are Pan and California games.

Commerce Casino is also recognized for its innovative "Bring Your Home Game to Commerce" program which enables poker fans to invite their friends and family for a casual home game, bachelor party or birthday celebration with a professional dealer in the casino setting.

Commerce Casino is located at 6131 East Telegraph Rd., Commerce, CA 90040, just off the Santa Ana (5) Freeway at the Washington Blvd. exit. The phone is (323) 721-2100.

For more information, go to http://www.commercecasino.com.

Results: 1st PLACE Eric Hershler, Los Angeles $2,429,970

2nd PLACE J. C. Tran, Sacramento $1,177,010

3rd PLACE Jacob Fernandez, Dominican Republic $607,490

4th PLACE Paul Wasicka, Westminster CO $455,615

5th PLACE Chau Giang, Las Vegas, NV $341,710



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NCAAB Odds: SMU Hosts Tulsa With AAC Title on the Line - There aren’t too many college basketball teams more profitable than the SMU Mustangs (25-4 SU, 18-5-1 ATS). They host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (14-14 SU, 15-12 ATS) this Thursday night, tipping off at 8 PM ET on CBSSN.

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