Ben Scroggins entered one of his first live poker tournaments at bestbet Jacksonville back in 2015, a $25 buy-in ‘College Tournament’ geared towards University-aged players. The 25-year-old poker pro from Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville has gone on to enter more than 200 tournaments at his bestbet Jacksonville since then, including some deep runs and a victory in a World Poker Tour preliminary event. On Monday, June 28, Scrogins earned his largest ever tournament title, on his home turf, by defeating a field of 339 entries in the 2021 Card Player Poker Tour bestbet Jacksonville $2,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. Scrogins earned $158,915 as the champion after defeating World Series of Poker bracelet winner and eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Kyle Cartwright heads-up for the title. He secured the victory in front of a rail that was dominated by his family and friends.
“Having the whole rail here made it feel even better. I almost cried for a second, but I got myself together,” said Scrogins after it was all over.
“My experience here has been amazing,” Scrogins offered when asked about earning this title at bestbet Jacksonville. “This is my home and I love everybody here. I know most of the dealers by name, and every time I walk into the door it’s ‘Hey Ben, how are you doing?’ It’s first-name basis. It really is like a home away from home, I got a second family here for sure.”
This was Scrogins’ first six-figure tournament score. His largest win prior to this event came when he won the 2017 Heartland Poker Tour Daytona Beach Kennel Club main event for $94,515. He now has $378,499 in lifetime live tournament cashes to his name.
In addition to the title and the six-figure payday, Scrogins also earned 720 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to see him move into 162nd place in the 2021 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
The final day of this event began with eight players remaining and Dustin Holladay in the chip lead. Scrogins was essentially tied for second place with Jessica Cai, who recently final tabled the Palm Beach Summer Classic final table. Day 1A chip leader Jeremy Joseph was among the shorter stacks at the table when play resumed, and he was ultimately the first to be eliminated after losing much of his stack with pocket jacks against the straight of Lamare Davis. Joseph hit the rail in eighth place, earning $20,081 for his deep run in this event.
Mac Johnson was the next to fall. The Jacksonville local came into the day as the shortest stack, but managed an early double to stay alive. His run came to an end in seventh place when his K10 ran into the AJ of Cartwright. The flop gave Cartwright top two pair and he held from there to send Johnson home with $25,695.
Joseph Crowley got the last of his chips in the middle with J10 on a 10832 board. He ran into the 108 of Scrogins, who made the call. The 6 river was of no help to Crowley and he was knocked out in sixth place ($33,292).
Jessica Cai lost a sizable pot with an unimproved ace-queen against the two pair of Scrogins, and then ran her open-ended straight draw into the top pair, top kicker of Cartwright for the remainder of her stack. Cai, who is married to 2019 WSOP main event sixth-palce finisher Zhen Cai, earned $43,669 as the fifth-place finisher.
When this final table began, Lamare Davis was the second-shortest stack. Davis battled his way to the final four to lock up the la healthy payday in this event. In his final hand he moved all-in with KJ on an A1079 board. Scrogins called with the 108 for second pair and an open-ended straight draw. Davis was unable to find any of his outs, and the 3 on the rivered eliminated him in fourth place. Davis cashed for $77,910.
Three-handed action saw a number of exciting hands take place. In one such hand, Cartwright raised to 125,000 on the button with AJ and start-of-day chip leader Dustin Holladay defended his big blind with Q9. The flop was J108 and Holladay checked with his flopped straight. Cartwright bet 180,000 with top pair and the nut flush draw. Holladay check-raised to 450,000, only to see Cartwright move all-in. Holladay quickly called to create one of the largest pots of the tournament. The 7 on the turn gave Cartwright the ace-high flush, but Holladay made a straight flush to leave Cartwright drawing dead.
Holladay surged back into the chip lead with that hand but was soon surpassed by Scrogins. The two big stacks ended up getting involved in a clash of monster hands. Scrogins raised to 160,000 on the button with KK and Holladay called from the small blind with 66.
The 644 flop saw Holladay flop a full house. He checked and Scrogins checked behind with his overpair. The K on the turn gave Scrogins a higher full house. Holladay bet 125,000 and Scrogins raised to 400,000. Holladay called and the 8 completed the board. Holladay checked and Scrogins bet 850,000. Holladay check-raised all in for 3,050,000 and Scrogins quickly called with his superior boat. Holladay earned $77,910 for his third-place showing.
Heads-up play began with Scrogins holding 7,945,000 to Cartwright’s 2,200,000. Cartwright, who had more than $2.4 million in tournament earnings prior to this event, was able to mount a quick comeback. He took down a sizable pot with pocket jacks against the top pair, straight draw and flush draw of Scrogins. He then made top two pair against Scrogins’ flopped top pair, top kicker to dobule up into the chip lead.
Scrogins regained the advantage not long after that, when his flopped top pair held up against the nut flush draw of Cartwright. Scrogins sat with 5,625,000 to Cartwright’s 4,295,000 when the final hand of the tournament was dealt. Scrogins raised to 250,000 on the button with Q6 and Kyle Cartwright from the big blind holding 97.
The QQ8 prompted Cartwright to check. Scrogins bet 200,000 with his trip queens and Cartwright called. The 6 on the turn gave Cartwright an open-ended straight draw. He checked and Scrogins bet 800,000 with his turned full house. Cartwright check-raised all in for 3,945,000 and Scrogins snap-called with his boat, leaving Cartwright drawing dead. He earned $105,942 for his runner-up finish in this event. Cartwright was also awarded 600 POY points for his deep run. This was his third final-table finish of the year, including a third-palce finish in the Spring Series $2,500 buy-in main event right here at bestbet Jacksonville back in March. Cartwright now sits in 30th place in the 2021 POY race standings as a result.
You can check out a replay of the full final table broadcast on bestbetLIVE below:
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: