The 2021 bestbet Jacksonville Spring Series $2,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event drew a field of 401 total entries, building a $898,242 prize pool that was ultimately paid out among the top 52 finishers. In the end the largest share of that money was awarded to eventual champion Hal Rotholz, who emerged victorious from the sizable field with the title and the top prize of $180,986.
In addition to the title and the money, Rotholz also scored 1,080 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion. This victory alone was enough to see him climb into 15th place in the 2021 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
The final day of this event began with 54 players remaining and World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Kyle Cartwright sitting atop the leaderboard. The money bubble burst early in the day, guaranteeing the remaining 52 players a payday of at least $1,981. Plenty of big names made the money, only to fall short of the final table. Among those who made deep runs in this event were Justin Zaki (35th – $5,049), bracelet winner John Gorsuch (31st – $5,821), World Poker Tour main event champion and WSOP bracelet winner James Calderaro (24th – $6,803), bracelet winner Byron Kaverman (23rd – $6,803), Gloria Jackson (22nd – $6,803), and final-table bubble boy Zack Gruneberg (9th – $18,099).
Cartwright remained in the lead when the final table was set, having added to his advantage by knockout out Gruneberg in ninth. Dustin Holladay was the first to fall at the final table, losing a preflop race with A-K against the pocket jacks of David Jackson. The pocket pair held and Holladay was sent home with $22,876 as the eighth-place finisher.
Stephen Strout got all-in with aces and queens and a ten kicker, only to find himself up against the same hand with the jack kicker. Strout was unable to come from behind and hit the rail in seventh place ($29,280). Moments later Brian Arbaugh was eliminated when he ran a bluff and got looked up by Johnny Landreth. Arbaugh secured $37,941 for his sixth-place showing.
Rotholz surged up the leaderboard when he made kings and nines against the top pair, top kicker of Landreth. He doubled up in the hand to surge up the leaderboard. He added to his rapidly growing stack by eliminating David Jackson in fifth place. Jackson got his chips in ahead with pocket queens facing Rotholz’s pocket jacks. Rotholz was the only one of the two with a diamond in his hand, though, and four came out on the board to give him a winning flush. Jackson cashed for $49,767, bringing his career tournament earnings to more than $2.6 million.
Johnny Landreth was the next to be eliminated. He called a three-bet from Rotholz with K9 for a large chunk of his stack and flopped a gutshot straight draw on J103 flop. With the pot up to 1,140,000 and just 205,000 remaining in his stack, Landreth called all-in after Rotholz shoved. Rotholz was ahead with pocket kings, and held when the A turn and 3 river brought Landreth no help. Landreth was awarded $66,069 as the fourth-place finisher.
Kyle Cartwright’s run in this event came to an end when he got all-in with pocket kings against the A-Q of Jake Ferro. Ferro flopped a queen and rivered trips to knock Cartwright out in third place. The $88,761 payday increased his career earnings to more than $2.4 million.
With that hand, Ferro took 7,275,000 in chips into heads-up play against Rotholz, who sat with 2,775,000. Rotholz earned a quick double up with top pair against the flush draw of Ferro to nearly bring things to even just a few minutes into the heads-up showdown. The two traded small leads back and forth before Rotholz won a key double up to take roughly a 3:1 lead. Ferro limped in from the button with A-K and Rotholz raised to 250,000 with QJ. Ferro limp-reraised to 850,000. Rotholz moved all-in for around 3.75 million and Ferro quickly called. The board ran out QJ3J9 to give Rotholz a full house and the lead. In the final hand Ferro got all-in with QJ against a dominating KJ. Neither player improved by the river and Rotholz’s king-high was enough to secure the pot and the title. Ferro earned $120,658 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Winner photo via bestbet Jacksonville’s Twitter account.