2017 Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
WPTDeepStacks $1 Million Guarantee Main Event
$1,100 No Limit Hold’em
Prize Pool: $1,463,730
January 19 – 24, 2016
The spotlight tournament on the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open was the $1 Million Guarantee WPTDeepStacks Main Event and the popular tour drew a big group of players. After three opening flights and three play down days, Michael Graffeo outlasted more than 1,500 entries to earn the trophy, the title, and more than $290,000.
The tournament had a $1,100 buy-in and the three opening flights combined to put 1,509 entries into the game. That huge turnout created a prize pool worth $1,463,730 and the last 151 players earned a some of that money. But all eyes were on the huge $290,687 top prize plus a $5,250 seat in the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship and a $3,000 package to the WPTDeepStacks Championship.
Of those 1,509 starters, only 264 were still around to join together for Day 2 and they quickly played down to the money bubble soon after the first break. The Main Event field made it into the money when Damien Rios eliminated an opponent after five rounds of hand-for-hand play.
Three Seminole Hard Rock Poker team members qualified for Day 2 action but only Loni Harwood was able to make the cash after Faraz Jaka and Jessica Dawley had early exits from the Main Event.
Harwood wasn’t satisfied with only cashing in the tournament; the two-time WSOP bracelet winner set her sights higher. She continued to build up her stack as top players fell to the wayside including Mohsin Charania, Kathy Liebert, Kelly Minkin, Zo Karim, and reigning Seminole Hard Rock Poker Player of the Year David Prociak.
Day 2 ended when former SHRP champion Ido Ashkenazi was eliminated in 28th place, closing down play with the last three tables. Those 27 players returned for Day 3 and it only took four hours to whittle them down to the final table of nine when previous chip leader Andre Rakusa was eliminated by Luis Torres.
Dantonio Brown was the chip leader at the end of his starting flight, then ended Day 2 with a big lead, and followed it all up with a nice lead to start the final table in front of the WPTDeepStacks live-stream cameras.
The final table featured players with more $7.5 million in combined tournament earnings, nine SHRP titles, and two WSOP bracelets courtesy of Harwood.
The final table had fireworks early with fan favorite Aaron Massey losing his short stack despite being dealt three big hands at the start. He was followed by Luis Torres, poker pro Timothy “TK” Miles, and Canadian transplant Timothy Banks.
Two-time SHRP champion Charlemagne Benjamin hit the rail in fifth place followed by four-time champion Marc Levy. Harwood held the chip lead with three players remaining but it slipped away while she took home $110,431 for her work.
Brown began heads-up up play with a small chip lead but Graffeo quickly reversed the advantage to take command. Brown did not go down without a fight and it took a tough beat to end his tournament as the runner-up.
Graffeo was clearly excited to finish off the WPTDeepStacks Main Event as champion and he’ll have something to show for it. He earned $290,687 for the feat along with booking himself into the $5,250 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship and WPTDeepStacks Championship.
“I ran pretty good, it was a tough table,” Graffeo told WPTDeepStacks. “I was trying to make some moves without putting my whole chip stack at risk.”
A recent transplant to South Florida, Graffeo ended a poker hiatus with new access to great games.
“I moved down here seven months ago and started playing again,” he continued. “The tournament was great. The dealers and the staff (are) unbelievable. It’s just a great place to play.”
Congratulations to Graffeo, the final table members, and everyone who made the WPTDeepStacks Main Event a success.
Final table results:
1st: Michael Graffeo – $290,687 + $5,250 SHRPO seat and $3,000 WPTDeepStacks Championship package
2nd: Dantonio Brown – $178,209
3rd: Loni Harwood – $110,431
4th: Marc Levy – $93,049
5th: Charlemagne Benjamin – $77,127
6th: Timothy Banks – $62,081
7th: Timothy Miles – $47,766
8th: Luis Torres – $34,473
9th: Aaron Massey – $25,563