2019 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida Event 21 $2,650 No-Limit Hold’em $1,000,000 Guaranteed Entries: 385 Prize Pool: $1,000,000 August 11-13, 2019
(Hollywood, Florida) — Jessica Dawley hit the $1,000,000 mark in career earnings in style with a Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Big 4 Trophy. The South Florida poker pro and Air Force veteran won the $2,650 no-limit hold’em single re-entry Tuesday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. After a nearly five-hour heads-up battle with Faraz Jaka, Dawley emerged victorious from the 385-entry field, taking home the trophy and $204,610. Jaka earned $142,610 for his runner-up finish.
The score was Dawley’s biggest of her career, besting her $130,230 win from the 2018 ladies event at the World Series of Poker. She not only posted a personal best but now has seven-figures in earnings, a benchmark she knew she was close to coming into the final table.
“Actually, going into the series, a buddy of mine and me were neck-and-neck in total earnings, and I was like ‘I just need a $200K score and then I’ll be over the $1 million-mark and I’ll pass you,'” said Dawley after the tournament. “So that was definitely my goal, for sure.”
Dawley came into the final table third in chips but was struggling to stay alive on Day 2. She was down to just five big blinds during the tournament’s penultimate day before hitting a rush of cards before the money and finishing with piles of chips.
“So many people, when they get short, let’s say five to seven big blinds, they think it’s game over and will punt it in,” said Dawley. “But the thing is, is that it’s all relative to what the other stack sizes are. If you have five big blinds and someone else has 95, of course, you are going to feel defeated. But if the other stack is like 20 bigs, then calling off five bigs is a lot for them. That’s kind of what happened yesterday. I just picked my spots and built my stack up.”
The rungood carried into Day 3 for Dawley. She chipped up early, knocked out Jake Daniels in eighth-place, and was the chip leader with five players left.
“Today, it was like the dream scenario,” said Dawley. “I had the cards at the right times and when I had bluffs, I wasn’t getting picked off. So I was real happy with how everything turned out.”
Dawley and Jaka dominated the early portions of a talented final table that featured Raj Vohra, Justin Zaki, and Jordan Cristos. The two pulled away from the pack and were heads-up just four hours into the day.
That’s when the battle really began. The two traded blows for nearly five levels. Jaka held the experience edge, but the cards went Dawley’s way. She pulled ahead early and despite Jaka putting a few dents in her stack, she never relinquished the lead.
“He definitely has more experience over the course of his career playing heads-up in these high-equity spots,” said Dawley. “But I don’t really get nervous at all, so for me, I just told myself don’t bloat any pots and don’t get out of line.”
Eventually, Dawley’s ace-two outflopped Jaka’s pocket eights and she won her first Hard Rock trophy.