2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood
$360 No Limit Hold’em Turbo
Total Entries: 283
Total Prizepool: $84,900
Every tournament player is looking to pick up a sizable tournament score, but some players need it more than the others.
Steven Bennett took home a much-needed five-figure score on Monday night by besting a field of 283 players and winning the $360 No Limit Hold’em Turbo event in an eight-way deal. At the time of the deal, Bennett was the chip leader. He took credit for the win and earned $11,000.
“It feels great because I really needed the money,” said Bennett after his win. “I haven’t been running that well lately and I haven’t been playing that well either. Even when I have been playing well, I haven’t been running well. This really fells awesome and I get a trophy.”
Winning $11,000 in one day is a good showing, but the turbo format of this event ensured a great hourly rate for Bennett. The tournament got cards in the air at 3 p.m. and a deal was struck before the clock hit 11 p.m.
The faster structure requires a different set of skills. Bennett generally prefers non-turbo events, but at the end of the day found a way to outlast the competition.
“Honestly, I just played my hands,” said Bennett. “I got lucky and picked up a lot of big hands. I never doubled up at the final table. I just got so many big hands that I was just shoving over people or taking down the blinds. And the blinds were so high that I was chip leader with like 19 big blinds at the end.”
Bennett said that he picked up pocket jacks, queens, aces, and ace-king while at the final table. He either shoved over an initial raise and took down the blinds. He came into the final table as the second shortest stack and used those premiums to chip up without showdown and secure the chip lead at a fairly stacked final table.
He scored the only knockout at the final table as well when his bested Anderson Blanco’s . Shortly after that elimination, the chop discussions began and eventually agreed upon.
Bennett wasn’t facing your run of the mill $360 buy-in final table. This final table featured Bill Gazes, Randy Pfeifer, Frankie Flowers, and Steve McKoy. Flowers is a well-known East Coast grinder, McKoy is one of the best players in South Florida, while Gazes and Pfeifer combined to win over $4.3 million playing tournament poker.
Bennett had high praise for his competition in general, but felt McKoy was his biggest threat.
“I thought Steve McKoy would be the most dangerous player if he had a lot of chips,” said Bennett. “But the structure made it hard for there to be a lot of play.”
Bennett never referred to himself as a professional poker player, but has made all of his income from the last several years from his time spent on the felt.
He moved from Dallas to Florida in 2008 and started playing poker in 2011. As each year went by, he spent more time playing the game and by 2013, he was depending on it as his main source of income.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win enough to money to keep going and going,” he said of his poker history.
It wasn’t long after, that he started earning some large scores. In 2014, Bennett significantly padded his bankroll with a 67th place finish in the World Series of Poker Main Event. It was a score worth $103,025 and followed it up with a win at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Winter Poker Open event and a fifth place a the Rock n’ Roll Poker Open here in Hollywood.
“I’ve had some decent scores,” he said. “But I haven’t done very well with my money. I’ve spent a lot and not played well. So this is huge for me.”
Bennett prefers tournaments with longer structures, but he is happy with his decision to enter the turbo.
“I’m really glad I played it.”
Here is a look at the final table results:
1st: Steven Bennett – $11,000
2nd: Kenneth Culbertson – $10,480
3rd: Steve McKoy – $8,793
4th: Bill Gazes – $8,752
5th: Frankie Flowers – $7,900
6th: Robert Elias – $7,250
7th: Yigal Hen – $7,003
8th: Randy Pfeifer – $6,487
9th: Anderson Blanco – $1,698