Sean Shah Puts Close Calls Behind Him, Earns First Title in $570 Six-Max

2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Hollywood, FL
Event #14
$570 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em
Entries: 274
Prize Pool: $137,000

Sean Shah wins $570 six-max no limit hold’em

Throughout Sean Shah’s career as a professional poker player, the 29-year-old has had many close calls. He finished second in a World Series of Poker event and just missed a WPT televised final table with a seventh place finish in the 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown main event.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, however, all that changed and he took home his first piece of poker hardware. Shah came out on top of a four-way chop in the $570 six-max no limit hold’em event to take home the hard rock trophy. He bested a field of 274 to win $21,809 in an ICM deal.

With over $600,000 in career tournament earnings and a couple six-figure scores under his belt, this isn’t even close to the biggest score of Shah’s career. But the importance of a win isn’t lost on him.

“It’s my first physical trophy,” said Shah after his win. “It’s somehow more important than all the money that has come along the way. When all the money is gone, I can be like ‘Well, look at this.'”

Many pros will get down about their close calls that came up short. Shah took a different approach. He loves being at the table and battling wits on the felt. Regardless of his results, he truly enjoys what he does.

“I love playing poker. It’s always been pressure-free to me,” said Shah. “I’ve always enjoyed watching it and playing it and everything about it is great. The losing, the suckouts, getting sucked out on. It’s all great. I love all of it.”

Aside from the money and the trophy, Shah becomes the last of the players eligible for the freeroll that takes place on Wednesday night. The winners of the first 14 events of the series are entered into a freeroll where the winner will get a seat into the $10,000 WPT Finale and the runner-up gets a seat into the $3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown main event.

The seat was a big deal to Shah and during the negotiations, he acknowledged that he doesn’t normally chop, but the fact that he would get credit for the win and get the seat incentivized him to agree to the chop for the shot at parlaying this into a big payday.

Shah has been playing professionally for quite some time with plenty of success. He’s been able to transition his poker skills into the real world. Well, the game show world.

The New Jersey native and local South Florida resident had success on two of television’s most popular game shows – Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

“I think I bluffed them into thinking that I’m a real enthusiastic and outgoing person,” said Shah about using his poker skills to get on TV. “And that goes a long way on television from what I’ve seen. There was a lot of psychology and reading people and knowing what I have to do to get on the show.”

Shah got on Wheel of Fortune back in 2010 when he was still playing mainly online. At the advice of his friends, he applied two years earlier.

“My friends were like ‘Man, you’re so good at this you should apply,’ cause we used to watch it and I would solve all the puzzles,” said Shah. “So, I signed up online and forgot about it. Two years later I got an invitation for an audition in Times Square.”

Shah was picked from the couple hundred prospective players at the audition to head out to California and participate on the game show. He had a pretty successful showing on the show and ended up with a five figure score.

“I won a little over $10,000,” said Shah about his performance. “That was like seven or eight years ago. So, at the time, it was my biggest score in anything.”

He’s not allowed to disclose how he did on Millionaire because the show hasn’t aired yet. But the appearance on the show gave him some joy on a day that most poker players consider the saddest day of the year.

“Last year, after I busted the WSOP Main Event, I went back to my room after a busted, and, I swear to God, I turned on the TV and Who Wants to be a Millionaire was on,” said Shah. “And at the end of the show they said “If you would like to audition, we are holding auditions in Vegas.’ And I went in the next day. It saved my summer.”

Shah was born in Pakistan, but his family immigrated to America when he was three years old. He lived in New Jersey for most of his life until 2011.

After Black Friday, Shah wasn’t able to play online poker anymore. He came down to South Florida to finish and further his education after online poker wasn’t viable for him anymore.

“I moved here to finish college,” said Shah. “I got my Bachelors and Masters degree down here after online shut down. Then I thought ‘Let’s give live tournaments a try.’ I never looked back after that.”

Final Table Results:

1st: Sean Shah – $21,809
2nd: Sandy Sanchez – $19,041
3rd: Hyon Kim – $17,240
4th: Elilton Goveia – $16,587
5th: Max Le – $6,590
6th: Nissim Gozlan – $5,459

Event 14: Sean Shah Wins in Four-Way Deal

$570 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em
Level 25: 15,000/30,000 with a 5,000 ante
Players Remaining: 4 of 274

Sean Shah

After a couple minutes of running numbers and discussion, the final four players have agreed to an ICM chop.

Sean Shah comes out on top and gets the trophy and the seat into tomorrow’s freeroll, where he will battle the other winners of the first 14 events for a $10,000 WPT Finale seat and a $3,500 WPT main event seat.

A complete recap will be posted tomorrow. Here are the results:

1st: Sean Shah – $21,809
2nd: Sandy Sanchez – $19,041
3rd: Hyon Kim – $17,240
4th: Elilton Gouveia (“Tom Alves”) – $16,581

Sandy Sanchez
Hyon Kim
Elilton Gouveia aka Tom Alves

Event 14: Max Le -5th Place ($6,590)

$570 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em
Level 24: 12,000/24,000 with a 4,000 ante
Players Remaining: 4 of 274

Max Le

Sean Shah raised to 54,000 from the cutoff and Max Le moved all in from the big blind for 272,000. Shah got an exact count from the dealer before calling.

Shah showed AdTs and was dominated by Le’s AsKd. The board ran out Jh5d2hTsJs and Shah hit a three-outer on the turn to eliminate Le in fourth place.

Shah extended his chip lead and Le picked up $6,590 for his fifth place finish.

Sean Shah – 1,250,000 (52 bb)
Max Le – Eliminated

Event 14: Nissim Gozlan – 6th Place ($5,459)

$570 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em
Level 24: 12,000/24,000 with a 4,000 ante
Players Remaining: 5 of 274

Nissim Gozlan

Hyon Kim raised out of the small blind and Nissim Gozlan moved all in out of the big blind for about 135,000. Kim snap-called.

“I hope you got aces,” said Gozlan.

Kim tabled AcAh and did indeed have aces.

“Good,” said Gozlan. “You’ve never seen aces get broken? It’s about to happen now.”

Gozlan showed QdJs and needed a lot of help. The board didn’t cooperate with Gozlan, however, as it came 9c5s2d6c8h and Gozland was eliminated in sixth place. He took home $5,459 for his finish and Hyon dragged the pot.

Hyon Kim – 560,000 (23 bb)
Nissim Gozlan – Eliminated

Event 14: Sean Shah Takes the Chip Lead

$570 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em
Level 23: 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante
Players Remaining: 6 of 274

Sean Shah raised on the button to 45,000 and Elilton Gouveia called out of the big blind.

The flop was 6s3d2d and Gouveia checked. Shah bet 54,000 and Gouveia called. They both checked the 7s turn card and the As came on the river.

Gouveia bet 85,000 and Shah called. Gouveia showed Ad4c, but Shah took the pot with AcKh. Shah wins the pot with a bigger kicker and now has a bigger stack than anybody else at the table.

Sean Shah – 1,000,000 (50 bb)
Elilton Gouveia – 825,000 (41 bb)