Marty Derbyshire wpt california

The World Poker Tour wrapped up a truncated version of its California Swing earlier this month, crowning two new WPT champions.

First, Cincinnati’s Dennis Blieden won the Season XVI WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship at the Commerce Casino just outside of Los Angeles. Blieden collected a first-place prize of $1 million, including a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

The event drew a total of 493 entries. Blieden made quick work of 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event Champion Toby Lewis to win the title. In fact, the entire final table ended in just a little over four hours.

The WPT’s California Swing normally stops in San Jose after the L.A. Poker Classic. However, the popular Bay 101 WPT Shooting Star bounty event was canceled this year with the Silicon Valley cardroom moving to a new location.

The WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event

Instead, the WPT headed straight to the Thunder Valley Casino Resort for what is normally the third and final event in the California Swing.

This time around, The WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event drew a field of 440 entries. San Jose’s David Larson took down the title, collecting a $295,128 first-place prize. Larson’s take also included a $15,000 seat to the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

The winner of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event also made the final table. However, Joe McKeehen ultimately fell third. Five-handed, McKeehen looked like a lock to run away with the title when he made a straight on the river in a hand versus eventual runner-up Ian Steinman. The river card also gave Steinman a set of kings. However, he found a miraculous fold to hold on to his stack after McKeehen set him all in.

Houston, Texas’ D.J. Alexander also made the final table, his second of the season. Ultimately, Alexander fell sixth.

Larson came from sixth of six in chips at the start of the final table to win the title.

World Poker Tour Season XVI continues

Next up for the WPT is the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in South Florida. The Main Event runs April 13 through 18 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.

The season will wrap up with WPT Amsterdam April 16, the WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship May 1 at Las Vegas’ Bellagio, and the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic at ARIA Resort & Casino on May 20. Finally, the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions will begin May 24 at ARIA.

Gelndale’s Artur Papazyan is the current WPT Player of the Year race leader. He won the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens in August 2017. Then, just a few weeks later, he captured the WPT Maryland Live! title in Hanover, Maryland.

Marty Derbyshire
Marty Derbyshire - Martin Derbyshire is a veteran of the world of poker and gambling, having worked as a reporter, producer, and editor in the industry for more than a decade. He has traveled the globe interviewing high-profile personalities and contributes to a number of publications, including,, and