2017 Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
$2,500 No-Limit Hold’em
January 22-23, 2017
When Mukul Pahuja was getting his winner’s photo taken just after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday morning, he was adamant that he wanted the grey sweatshirt he wore throughout the day to be somewhat visible in the photo.
Pahuja won the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em in a heads-up deal with Ryan Rogers. Pahuja took home $79,544 in the deal along with the trophy. For Pahuja, he attributes some of his run good on the second day of this two-day event to Aaron Massey’s lucky sweater.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” said Pahuja. “I’m on my way here in the car a few minutes late. I text both Zo [Karim] and my wife the same thing. ‘Do you guys see my grey sweatshirt?’ They both say yes. Zo says he is going to put it on my chair for me when I get there and I’m super curious to see which one of them is right.”
When Pahuja arrived at his seat, the grey sweatshirt that Karim had left for him turned out to be Aaron Massey’s grey sweatshirt. Pahuja’s sweatshirt was at home with Mrs. Pahuja, but he decided to stay warm by using Massey’s shirt throughout the day.
“This is like an extra small. I was like Chris Farley in a fat man’s suit all day playing this tournament,” said the . “But then I went from like seven big blinds at one point to like 37 in one orbit. I told Aaron at that point that he’s got to wear it tomorrow.”
Massey is the short stack at the final table of the 2017 Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event. But if the sweatshirt brings him the same luck that it brought Pahuja, he’ll end up in okay shape by the day’s end.
Pahuja was the short stack at the final table with seven players remaining, but went on a tear to end up with the chip lead when a heads-up deal was struck.
“I got really lucky and had premium hands that held up time and time again,” said Pahuja. “I had aces, kings, jacks, and queens all within the last hour of the tournament and that’s when you want to get those hands and have it hold up.”
Pahuja doubled through Paul Balzano with aces against ace-queen and never looked back.
“It was just a super cooler,” said Pahuja about the hand. “And then I just made hands from there.”
Pahuja emerged victorious at a final table that featured some quality poker talent. Along with Balzano, who finished fourth, Jake Bazeley, Faraz Jaka, Robert Kuhn, and Krzysztof Stybaniewicz were also at the final table.
Pahuja is a seasoned professional with a loaded poker resume, but the win is a little sweeter for him since he was able to come out on top against some other talented players.
“I’ve run unbelievable for a while now in kind of big field main events,” said Pahuja. “Those are where you want to run good too because of what you can win, but just as a professional desire, you want to beat tougher players.
“In a bigger buy-in postlim, you get smaller, tougher fields, and I haven’t had much success in theses kinds of fields. So it does feel good to get something like this under my belt.”
Since Pahuja won the title in a deal, there was no last hand. Pahuja chose to get his photo taken with the because this is the first tournament he won since his son was born on July 2 of last year.
“I had [a][win] about a year ago this time,” said Pahuja. “So he was with us cause my wife on the rail, but he wasn’t with us. So this is the first one there.”
Pahuja is originally from New York, but for the better part of a decade, he’s been based in South Florida with his wife and his children.
Getting to play at his home casino gave him some advantages that he wouldn’t have if he were on the road.
“The comfort stuff helps for sure, but even more is the comfort you get from playing with the same players,” said Pahuja. “As a tournament player, you have to travel a lot and you don’t always know the locals.
“When you get to lay at your home base, you know the traveling pros, but you also know the locals. So it’s a huge advantage to kind of not be caught off guard as much as the other really good pros who are coming in from out of town.”
Here are the results:
|Place||First Name||Last Name||Prize Money|
*Indicates a heads-up deal