2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood
$300 Jason Taylor Foundation Charity Event
Total Entries: 124
Prize Pool: $17,360
April 13, 2014
Charity tournaments make for some of the most memorable and enjoyable nights at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, and Wednesday’s event was no exception. Retired NFL standout Jason Taylor was the host of this $300 buy-in tournament which drew 124 entries — a mix of poker pros, sports and entertainment celebrities, and philanthropic part-time players.
Taylor nearly won his own event, running deep at the final table before falling in third place. John Virga went on to defeat local radio host Andy Slater in the heads-up duel to claim the trophy and the top prize of $5,035.
A local chiropractor, Virga has been friends with Taylor for more than a decade, and he takes every opportunity to support the Foundation when he’s able. The victory also earned him a complimentary $3,500 entry into the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown on Friday.
The evening’s festivities began at 5:00 with an invitation-only social hour at the L Bar on property.
The crowd migrated over to the ballroom at 7:00 for the start of the charity tournament. Among the 70 or so in attendance were some of Taylor’s former teammates and colleagues from the NFL, along with local sports journalists Israel Gutierrez and Dan Le Batard.
The professional poker community was well represented too, with WPT Champions Club members Dylan Wilkerson and Amir Babakhani coming out to play, along with Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, and WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage.
And, of course, the SHRP Team poured in their own support with Jessica Dawley, Wally Maddah, Stewart Newman, and Sheddy Siddiqui doing their part to ensure a good time was had by all.
Half of each buy-in went to the Jason Taylor Foundation, which aims to “facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education and quality of life.” More than $17,000 was raised from entries alone, and a silent action added significantly to that number.
The other half of the money went into the tournament prizepool, which also included more than $10,000 in added loot.
The final 18 players finished in the money, and each of the final nine earned bonus prizes ranging from a WPT chip set to the $3,500 seat claimed by Virga.
Here are the full results:
1st: John Virga – $5,035
2nd: Andy Slater – $2,951
3rd: Jason Taylor – $1,736
4th: Kory Swelka – $1,389
5th: Amir Babakhani – $1,042
6th: Thomas Albaugh Jr. – $868
7th: Jessica Dawley – $694
8th: Nick Sortal – $521
9th: Niall Farrell – $391
10th: Shannon Shorr – $347
11th: Richard Hutchings – $347
12th: David Moreno – $347
13th: Cicero Osceola – $304
14th: Francis Margaglione – $304
15th: Jordan Meltzer – $304
16th: Adam Geyer – $260
17th: Adam Horowitz – $260
18th: Kenneth Einiger – $260
These prizes were added for the nine finalists:
1st: WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship Seat
2nd: Hard Rock Resort Package (Mexico or other destination)
3rd: Party Like a Rock Star Basket – Beach Boys
4th: Party Like a Rock Star Basket – Hendrix Experience
5th: Party Like a Rock Star Basket – War
6th: Party Like a Rock Star Basket – Alonzo Mourning
7th: Hard Rock Goodie Basket & Hotel Experience
8th: Monster Headphones
9th: WPT Chip Set