At the time of writing, the final couple of events were still wrapping up, but for the most part, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown is in the books. And boy, what a series it turned out to be.
As record numbers flooded the property for the early prelims in the festival, it was clear something big brewed in balmy South Florida. Even those projecting big things for the World Poker Tour $3,500 Main Event, however, may not have expected a tour record for most entries broken.
While that tournament has also yet to finish — due to going with a delayed final table format — it did play down to its final six, who will meet in Las Vegas in a few weeks to play for seven figures up top.
Those weren’t the only headlines to come out of the festival, either. Tournament pro Brian Altman locked up WPT Player of the Year honors with a fairly significant winning margin in the unusual season, which stretched well over a year because of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Plus, there were plenty of notable winners in side events as well.
WPT Final Table on Pause With Sonny Franco Slightly Leading
A staggering turnout of 2,482 took their shots in the WPT Main Event, and six players have emerged to contest the final table with $1,261,095 up top.
Atop the counts — but just barely — will be Sonny Franco, who finished the final Florida day with 31,900,000, good for just shy of 80 big blinds. He’s closely trailed by Midwest regular Brek Schutten with 31,350,000.
Beyond the two leaders, it’s quite a gap to third-place Steven Snyder and fellow middling stack Ken “Teach” Aldridge before another drop to the short stacks, Albert Calderon and Viet Vo.
Here’s how they’ll be arrayed when play resumes in Las Vegas May 18.
Official WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Final Table
Four of the six have secured career-best cashes, according to The Hendon Mob, the exceptions being Teach and Vo. The former has a WSOP bracelet win from 2009 while the latter came runner-up at WPT Choctaw for over $300K a few years back.
As for how they reached this final table, each was among the 21 players making Day 4, with the likes of Jared Jaffee, John Racener, Dylan Linde, Ali Imsirovic, Anthony Zinno, Farid Jattin and Sergio Aido among the dozens of notables to cash before that point. Most of them had big stacks with only Franco not among the leaders.
One storyline brewing for the final day was that of Blair Hinkle. The tournament star was looking to double up on huge wins at Seminole after a landmark victory back in 2013 but he came in third in a critical three-way all in with tens against jacks and ace-king, according to the venue’s live updates. He still managed to ladder a few times before going down in 12th when flopped trips were no good.
Franco won jacks over aces to bust Rich Alsup in 11th, then $50,000 Super High Roller winner Arthur Conan busted in 10th to fall shy of a sick double trophy run. Simon Tremblay went down in ninth to leave it to a final table of eight two off the TV table.
Teach eliminated Zachary Vuong when both flopped aces but Teach held a superior queen kicker versus a nine.
Erik Cajelais had been down to a few blinds as the player with jacks in the hand that crippled Hinkle but he ran it back including hitting a two-outer on the river to survive. However, he dwindled from a big stack near the finish and ultimately busted on a squeeze reshove with against held by Franco.
Again, the players return to the felt May 18 as the last in a series of three WPT final tables. Action will be filmed from the PokerGO Studio for TV airing at a later date, and live updates will be available via the WPT reporting team.
$25K and Other Side Event Results
The WPT Main Event wasn’t the only tournament of import, as plenty of notable side events have also finished in the past few days awarding some huge prizes with proprietary guitar pick trophies. Additionally, continuing the theme from early in the series, several house records for attendance were broken as events like $5,000 Deep Stack NLH (won by Shannon Shorr for $296,535) and $2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Anthony Zinno — $68,732) drew unprecedented crowds.
Another such event was the $25,500 High Roller, which got 145 entries to make for a prize pool just shy of $3.6 million. Noah Schwartz, Darren Elias, Isaac Baron and Cary Katz were a few of the players cashing but missing out on the final table.
Byron Kaverman and Sean Perry were atop the chip counts as final table play began with the winner scheduled to bag $970K.
It stayed that way through the first few eliminations, but Perry had a misstep six-handed when he bluffed all in on the river with a pair and a straight blocker only to be picked off by Chad Eveslage, who had flopped a straight from the big blind.
Perry recovered to eliminate Chris Brewer with tens over sevens.
After Derek Gregory was eliminated in fifth, Eveslage grabbed another double through Perry blind versus blind when king-queen held against eight-seven.
It looked like Kaverman’s tournament to win as he had half of the chips four-handed, but he took a bad beat at the hands of Eveslage when pocket fives turned a straight versus his nines.
After one more elimination (Brock Wilson) a deal wound up being struck with Eveslage declared winner as the chip leader ahead of Perry and Kaverman.
Here’s a look at the full list of side event results:
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Side Event Winners
|$400 Limit Omaha 8 (Freeze-Out)||159+||Donald Maloney||$9,236*|
|$400 H.O.R.S.E. (Freeze-Out)||153+||Barak Zaken||$12,545|
|$400 Deep Stack Pot Limit Omaha (Single Re-Entry)||311+||Greg Fishberg||$22,060|
|$400 Deep Stack No-Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)||409||Yaymel Bodes||$23,838*|
|$1,100 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry)||446||Ryan Hogan||$72,065*|
|$400 Seniors 50+ NLH (Single Re-Entry)||386+||James Diaz||$15,975*|
|$600 Double Black Chip Bounty NLH (Single Re-Entry)||582||James Anderson||$35,540|
|$400 Black Chip Bounty PLO (Single Re-Entry)||251||Chris Kondrat||$13,070|
|$150 Big Stack NLH (Double Re-Entry)||585||Carlos Dorca||$7,698*|
|$400 Omaha 8/Stud 8 (Freeze-Out)||105+||Chris Tryba||$9,620|
|$600 Big Stack Six-Max NLH (Single Re-Entry)||570+||Joseph Di Rosa Rojas||$50,920|
|$400 Six-Max Pot Limit Omaha 8 (Single Re-Entry)||183+||Jesse Mull||$14,245|
|$600 Deep Stack Turbo NLH (Freeze-Out)||228||Dorian Rios||$17,984*|
|$1,100 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry)||744||Brian Hall||$128,230|
|$50,000 Super High Roller||42+||Arthur Conan||$733,320|
|$2,200 Deep Stack NLH (Re-Entry)||531||Andrew Ostapchenko||$200,850|
|$400 Black Chip Bounty NLH (Single Re-Entry)||388||Brian Goodman||$18,405|
|$1,700 Purple Chip Bounty NLH (Re-Entry)||385+||Rafael Lima||$61,267*|
|$600 Turbo NLH/PLO (Re-Entry)||112||Olamide Otti||$17,639|
|$600 Big Stack NLH (Re-Entry)||553||Benson Tang||$54,655|
|$25,500 High Roller||145+||Chad Eveslage||$767,577*|
|$400 Pot Limit Omaha (Single Re-Entry)||162||Stephen Moreschi||$13,125|
|$150 No-Limit Hold’em (Double Re-Entry per Day)||787||Dariel Martinez||$14,148*|
|$400 Big Stack NLH (Re-Entry)||259||Christopher Hill||$19,080|
|$5,000 Deep Stack NLH (Re-Entry)||287+||Shannon Shorr||$296,535|
|$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)||168+||Anthony Zinno||$68,732*|
*reflects final table deal
Altman Takes Down POY Honors
When the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown started, Brian Altman held a large lead in the points race for Player of the Year honors. Stretching back to 2019 results thanks to COVID-19 all but erasing the 2020 season, Altman cashed four times and made three final tables.
One of those was a victory for his second WPT title, at the 2020 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open — his second time winning the event.
Altman’s 2019-21 WPT Results
|Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2019||WPT Legends of Poker||10th||$45,940|
|Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2019||WPT Maryland at LIVE! Casino||3rd||$149,515|
|Jan. 17-22, 2020||WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open||1st||$482,636|
|Jan. 26-30, 2020||WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open||TBD*||TBD*|
*final table to be played May 16
With Altman still having the possibility of earning even more points at the long-delayed final table of WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, it was going to something stunning to catch him.
Thankfully for Altman, that didn’t happen, and he earned WPT Player of the Year honors with his outstanding performances throughout the lengthy season.
Altman earned a $15,000 WPT Passport, which he can use to buy in to WPT events in the coming season, as well as the following prizes, courtesy of the WPT:
- Complimentary Accommodation in Majority of WPT Main Tour Events
- Ground Transportation for Select WPT Main Tour Events
- Food & Beverage Credit in Select WPT Main Tour Events
- Special Hublot WPT Player of the Year Trophy
- Hublot® Watch (Approx. $15K Value)
- Award Presentation at the Season XVIII WPT Tournament of Champions at ARIA Hotel & Casino.
History of WPT POY
|Season||Player of the Year||Points|
|2008-09||Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier||1,600|