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Esteban Garcia Represents Seminole Hard Rock with $35K Score in PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship

Esteban Garcia on Day 3 of the $25,000 PSPC

The Seminole Hard Rock and PokerStars teamed up to award five South Florida poker players a $30,000 Platinum Pass and send them to the Bahamas to compete in this week’s $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC). The passes were distributed during a summer freeroll, the August Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, November’s Moneymaker Tour event and Feeding South Florida Charity event as well as during the Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open. In all, it was $150,000 in added value to the South Florida poker community. They were won by:

Vasile-Ionut Merisescu (summer freeroll)
Carlo Rodriguez (SHRPO Play to Win)
Andres Risquez (Moneymaker Tour)
Esteban Garcia (Feeding South Florida Charity)
Jorge Aristizabal (RRPO Play to Win)

The PSPC began Sunday with a strong field of 1,039 entries. The total prize pool surpassed $26,000,000 with a first prize worth more than $5,000,000 and it was Esteban Garcia that shone brightest of the five Seminole Hard Rock Platinum Pass winners.

Esteban won his pass after finishing runner-up to Chris Moneymaker in the $300 Feeding South Florida Charity event. Moneymaker was ineligible to win the pass, so it was presented to Esteban. Esteban went on to parlay that package into a 146th-place finish and a $35,000 score.

Of the other pass winners, Carlo was eliminated late on Day 1 while Vasile, Andre and Jorge were all eliminated on Day 2.

We caught up with Esteban for an interview following his cash on Day 3:

Seminole Staff: Let’s go back to November and the Feeding South Florida Charity Event. Talk to us about playing heads-up against Chris Moneymaker and the moment you won the Platinum Pass.

Esteban: The truth is, I went to the Seminole Hard Rock not knowing what I was going to play. It was a regular day for me. I got out of work, I was thinking, “I’m just going to go play.” When I got there, it was a charity event, $300 … I didn’t really know the first place prize, but once we got to about 15 players, [Tournament][Director][Tony][Burns] was talking about the [Platinum][Pass] and I was like, “Hmm. Sounds good.” There were no high hopes or anything. Once we got to about five players I was like, “Ok. We have a chance at this.”

Esteban Garcia

Heads-up with Moneymaker wasn’t a big deal, because once it was down to just him and I, I didn’t really care about making that extra $1,000. I was so happy to be able to get this [Platinum][Pass] package. I put it in on the next hand and he just happened to have a better hand. I was just like, “Wow. This is crazy. I never thought I would play in a $25,000 buy-in.” I would never spend that money out of my pocket to do that. That was really, really good. I woke [my][wife] up when I got home — “You won’t believe this! We’re going to the Bahamas! We have a ticket. We have everything paid for.” She was like, “Whatever.” The next day in sunk in a little bit more. It was good.

SS: Talk about the last two months leading up to this and your time working with PokerStars to get to the Bahamas.

E: They communicated so well. They reached out to me multiple times to see if I needed anything. Garry [Gates] was incredible and PokerStars was unbelievable. They have an A+ thing going on. Everything they do is first class.

SS: Talk about your experience in the Bahamas and playing the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship.

E: We love everything about the accommodations. The game; I’m not going to say I was intimidated, but I didn’t feel like I could play with these [$25,000][buy-in][players] at first. Once I won a couple hands I felt a lot better. I studied a lot of the stuff they were doing and tried to make adjustments. The game here and the [small][buy-ins] back home are totally different. This was great. It was a great experience for me. I think I’ll be able to play the higher buy-in tournaments a lot better now that I was able to experience this. It’s a big learning experience. I feel proud to have made the money and advanced and make it to where a lot of these [$25,000][buy-in][players] didn’t make it.

SS: 10 years from now what do you think you’ll remember most about the last three days in the Bahamas?

E: I came here with $1,000 and I’m going home with $36,000. I’ll remember that! For sure. I spent some time with the wife. She kind of played solo tourist a little bit, but at the same time, we needed this. It was good. The first couple of days I left the tournament floor with a headache — sitting down for eight hours concentrating. I was a little worn out. [Me][and][my][wife] have been going around eating. Tomorrow, since we have the day off, we’re probably going to go downtown and spend some time there all day. Go to the beach. Spend the extra day one-on-one. She had a job to do every day. She was figuring out where we were going to have breakfast the next day and where we were going to have dinner. She had to go scout. That was her job during the day while I was playing. That was a good thing.

Esteban Garcia

SS: Talk about what you normally play at the Seminole Hard Rock and what you thinking playing your normal daily tournaments might be like now that you have $25,000 buy-in experience.

E: I’m not going back to those little tournaments! I’m just kidding. I usually go play Mondays and Tuesdays which is low buy-in tournament — $150. The style is so different. I feel like this high buy-in play is a low risk game. It’s just different. At the small buy-ins, there’s a lot of all-ins all the time. I think I just became so much better just because of these last three days. I’m still going to play my games and I’m going to try a lot more to try to get those satellites for the bigger buy-ins. I feel confident that I can compete in those tournaments a lot more now that I did this.

SS: Talk to us about your life away from the felt and what you do for a living.

E: I work for Florida Power & Light Company. My title is Line Specialist. I work on the power lines — high voltage — making sure that your switch can be turned on and the power is on. Maintenance and construction, that’s basically my job. During storms, restoration, making sure we get everything back on. I’ve been doing it for 22 years now.

SS: So poker is just Monday and Tuesday or do you get to play more than that?

E: Usually Monday and Tuesday are my main days. Saturday I stay home. Monday and Tuesday you will definitely find me at the Seminole Hard Rock. Any other day it has to be a good buy-in and I have to have the time off.

SS: You’re a working man and you just won $35,000 off a free entry you earned at the Seminole Hard Rock. Talk about what that means.

E: It’s beautiful, man. Shoot! We have some plans for this year. We have some traveling we’re planning to do. One of our kids is in Japan, he’s in the military. We’ll pay for the next couple of trips. We’re empty-nesters.

SS: What are your plans for the Lucky Hearts Poker Open this week?

E: I don’t know yet. I will figure it out when I get back, but I will definitely play some.

SS: Anything else you would like to add?

E: I just want to say thanks to the Seminole Hard Rock and PokerStars. The truth is, they made it happen. They did a great, great job. I’m looking forward to the next Platinum Pass and where it’s going to be because I’m going to be chasing that Pass again!

——————

Thank you to everyone who played our Platinum Pass events and huge congratulations to all five of the pass winners! It was a pleasure following along with your play and having you represent the Seminole Hard Rock in the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship.

Next up is the Lucky Hearts Poker Open back in South Florida January 10-22.

Feeding SFL: Chris Moneymaker Wins Seminole Hard Rock Charity Event, Runner-Up Esteban Garcia Earns $30K Platinum Pass

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida

$300 Buy-In No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
$50,000+ in Cash and Prizes
Entries: 89
November 13, 2018

Chris Moneymaker (right) and Esteban Garcia

The Feeding South Florida Charity Event ended late Tuesday night with 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker taking the top spot. The event generated charitable donations of more than $14,000 and Moneymaker earned $3,000 along with a prize package for the win.

Chris Moneymaker and Esteban Garcia

As a PokerStars ambassador, Moneymaker was not eligible to win the $30,000 PokerStars Platinum Pass that was added to first place. That huge prize went to runner-up Esteban Garcia. With that, Garcia punched his ticket to the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship slated to run this January in the Bahamas.

Jorge Aristizabal (Seat 1) busts third officially earning Esteban Garcia a Platinum Pass
Platinum Pass winner Estaban Garcia

Final results:

1st: Chris Moneymaker – $3,000 + $5,250 SHRPO entry, 4-night stay, dinner for 2
2nd: Estaban Garcia – $2,000 + $30,000 Platinum Pass
3rd: Jorge Aristizabal – $1,400 + $3,500 entry, dinner for 2
4th: Harold O’Brien – $1,100 + Hard Rock AC 4-night stay
5th: Nagui Yass – $800 + Ferragamo wallet, $200 gift card
6th: Jack Sumner – $700 + Ferragamo wallet, $200 gift card
7th: Antonio Arencibia – $600 + Michael Kors wallet, $200 gift card
8th: Rick Levy – $500
9th: Kimberley Kusser – $400
10th: Aaron Allen – $300

That wraps the Feeding South Florida charity event. Next up is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open kicking off tomorrow at 11am with the opening flight in the $360 buy-in, $1,000,000 guarantee!

Feeding SFL: Chris Moneymaker Leads Final 10

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 15: 5,000/10,000 with a 10,000 ante
Players Remaining: 10 of 89

Chris Moneymaker

For the second time in his short stay at the Seminole Hard Rock, Chris Moneymaker leads the final 10 in a PokerStars Platinum Pass event. Over the weekend, he finished runner-up in his namesake Moneymaker Tour event making his way through an impressive 957 entries.

Now, just two days later, he’s maneuvered through 89 entries in the Feeding South Florida Charity Event and finds himself in the money and leading the final table.

Seat 1: Jorge Aristizabal – 129,000
Seat 2: Aaron Allen – 41,000
Seat 3: Kim Kusser – 65,000
Seat 4: Chris Moneymaker – 220,000
Seat 5: Rick Levy – 2,500
Seat 6: Esteban Garcia – 56,000
Seat 7: Jack Sumner – 70,000
Seat 8: Antonio Arencibia – 16,000
Seat 9: Harold O’Brien – 153,000
Seat 10: Nagui Yassa – 130,500

As a PokerStars representative, Moneymake is not eligible to earn the $30,000 Platinum Pass that’s added to first. In the event were he to win, it would go to second place.

Stay tuned!

Feeding SFL: Quick Road to Two Tables

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 12: 2,000/4,000 with a 4,000 ante
Players Remaining: 18 of 89

Table 1, including Chris Moneymaker

Barely three hours since kickoff, the Feeding South Florida Charity Event is down to 18 players and consolidated to the final two tables. Chris Moneymaker is in the midst of yet another deep run already having finished runner-up in his namesake Moneymaker Tour event on Sunday (from 957 starting entries) and again finishing second in a small media invite sit n go earlier today.

In addition to Moneymaker, others still in include PokerStars’ Garry Gates, Steven Bennett, Matt Yorra and Nagui Yassa.

 

Feeding SFL: Registration Closed Generating $14K Toward Charity

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 9: 500/1,000 with a 1,000 ante
Players Remaining: 36 of 89

The first break wrapped, the silent auction is done and registration closed. The Feeding South Florida Charity Event is final with 89 entries generating more than $14,000 toward charity. The silent auction items will add to that total providing even more meals to South Florida families in need.

Here’s a look at the payouts set to head to the final 10 players:

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida

$300 Buy-In No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
$50,000+ in Cash and Prizes
Entries: 89
November 13, 2018

1st – $3,000 + $30,000 Platinum Pass
2nd – $2,000 + $5,250 SHRPO entry, 4-night stay, dinner for 2
3rd – $1,400 + $3,500 entry, dinner for 2
4th – $1,100 + Hard Rock AC 4-night stay
5th – $800 + Ferragamo wallet, $200 gift card
6th – $700 + Ferragamo wallet, $200 gift card
7th – $600 + Michael Kors wallet, $200 gift card
8th – $500
9th – $400
10th – $300

Feeding SFL: The Guest of Honor Representing PokerStars

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 7: 300/600
Entries: 75

Chris Moneymaker

Arguably the most iconic player in the game, 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker has been on property for the last few days playing poker, greeting fans and taking pictures.

Partnered with PokerStars, Moneymaker is promoting the upcoming PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, a $25,000 buy-in event slated for January in the Bahamas. A $30,000 “Platinum Pass” (inclusive of a tournament entry and $5,000 travel) was up for grabs in this weekend’s $86 buy-in Moneymaker Tour event and Moneymaker went on to finish runner-up.

The Seminole Hard Rock is again adding value via an added Platinum Pass in this $300 charity event. Moneymaker, of course, can’t win it, but that hasn’t stopped him from coming out and support South Florida charity.

Feeding SFL: Strong Local Support for Charity

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 4: 100/200
Entries 61

Michael Newman

With this summer’s landfall of Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle, tonight’s event sits close to the heart of many of the Sunshine State’s residents. Feeding South Florida sent many of their resources north to help those in need. In addition to replenishing their supplies in Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, a portion of the proceeds of this event will go to help those in the Panhandle directly.

With that, a number of locals and some of the Seminole Hard Rock’s most loyal players are out supporting the cause.

Steven Bennett
David Shmuel
Matt Yorra

Feeding SFL: Cocktails and Silent Auction Preceded the Play

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 3: 75/150
Entries: 55

Silent auction items

In true special event fashion, this unique charity tournament was preceded with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Relaxed fare was available complimentary while players could bid on such items as stay and play packages, wine and liquor packages, sports memorabilia, designer accessories and tech items.

Silent auction items

Feeding SFL: Shuffle Up and Deal

Feeding South Florida Charity Event
Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes
Level 1: 25/50
Entries: 44

Tony Burns (left) and Paco Velez

After a few quick words from Seminole Hard Rock Tournament Director Tony Burns, Feeding South Florida President Paco Velez and 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, cards are in the air for the Feeding South Florida charity event.

Tony Burns and Chris Moneymaker
Tony Burns and Chris Moneymaker

Feeding SFL: Play for a Cause (and a $30,000 Platinum Pass)

Feeding South Florida Charity Event

We’re settling in for a fun night of poker in the Hard Rock Event Center with tons of cash and prizes up for grabs all in the name of a good cause.

Beginning at 7pm is a $300 buy-in charity poker tournament benefiting Feeding South Florida. Players from South Florida and beyond are set to compete for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. The grand prize — a $30,000 PokerStars Platinum Pass inclusive of a $25,000 entry and $5,000 travel money — is reserved for the champion. He or she is set to represent the Seminole Hard Rock at the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship this January in the Bahamas.

Here are the details on the charity event:

7PM: Feeding South Florida – $300 NLH (Re-Entry)

  • Over $50,000 in guaranteed cash and prizes
  • $30,000 PokerStars Platinum Pass added to 1st
  • Players begin with 10,000 in chips
  • Single ante will be paid from the big blind for the entire table
  • Levels will last 15 minutes
  • Late registration/re-entry available until start of Level 9
  • This is a one-day tournament scheduled to play to completion
  • Feeding South Florida Charity Event Structure Sheet

Preceding the action will be a cocktail hour and silent auction beginning at 6pm. Some of the items up for bid include Tiffany jewelry, Salvatore Ferragamo accessories, an AppleWatch and a Ryan Tannehill autographed football as well as a number of “stay and play” packages to the Seminole Hard Rock.

Play begins at 7pm and we’ll be providing periodic updates throughout the evening.

Good luck and HAVE FUN!