The LA Poker Classic has been won by some of the biggest names in poker: Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, Michael Mizrachi, and Chris Moorman, just to name a few.
The event has also had its fair share of underdog champions who won on one of poker’s biggest stages despite a lack of exposure to the high stakes side of poker: Eric Herschler, Alan Goehring, Paul Klann, and Gregory Brooks come to mind there.
The latest champion, Dennis Blieden, would certainly fall in the latter category, but he had the ability and aggression of the legends mentioned in the first group. Blieden defeated a field of 493 players to take home an even $1,000,000, and get his name in the Champions Club trophy.
“I’m on top of the world. I’m much happier to win the championship than the million dollars. This is unbelievable. I’ve dreamt of this since I was a little kid. I always had games at my house growing up. People were coming over 2-3 times a week after school. Everyone dreamed of this so for everyone at home in Cincinnati supporting me it’s surreal.”
Blieden defeated a tough final table that included the already on fire Toby Lewis. Fresh off of winning the Aussie Millions just a few weeks ago, Lewis looked destined to win another massive title, but Blieden had other ideas.
For Blieden, he believes his unpredictability was his biggest asset.
“I’m just fearless really I came in and confused some of the pros I was against. When you’re as fearless as I am you can get the pros to tighten their ranges a bit because they know my 4 bet range is so big.”
Blieden gave an example of that in the hand where he busted three time WPT Champion Anthony Zinno. Blieden was able to get Zinno to three bet shove on the flop drawing almost dead against the trips of Blieden. Blieden was also happy to discuss his animated interactions with none other than the Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth.
“Phil Hellmuth on Day 4 had just got to my table. First hand I raise under the gun with 4-5 offsuit. He calls big blind I bet the flop he folded I showed. “What the hell is this goofy shit?” he said right away. After a couple more hands I 3-bet him with the 10-jack. I got some draws value bet a river jack and Phil went ballistic. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I ended up taking more of his chips: “what’s this goofy shit?” My friends loved that reading the updates.”
Blieden gave credit to a group of pros who helped him stay calm and level headed throughout the event, specifically mentioning Chance Kornuth and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. He also credited poker pro Mark Herm for telling him to play like a maniac.
Despite the life changing million dollar score, Blieden was the first person to say that he doesn’t plan on changing much right now as far as poker is concerned.
“Maybe I’ll play more at the WSOP. I’m not going to start traveling becoming a pro anything like that. I’m happy with the life I have, and happy to have poker as a hobby and I think I’m going to continue with that.”
One tournament he will definitely be in is the WPT Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas in a few months. When asked how he would plan on approaching that event now that he is no longer the unknown, Blieden said that once again, he doesn’t plan on changing anything now.
“I guess I got a couple months to figure that out but my guess is it’ll be the exact same thing,” he said with a big laugh.
Congratulations again to Dennis Blieden on what can only be described as a truly historic run. We look forward to seeing you defend your title in 2019!