2015 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship Recap

2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
$5,000,000 Guarantee

April 16 – 22nd, 2015

Total Entries:  1,476
Total Prize Pool:  $5,000,000

Ralph Notaro04222015SHRPOShowdownFinal172 Griffin Paul champion

The 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship kicked off on April 16 with a $5,000,000 prize pool and a week later we saw one player walk away with $1,000,000. After three starting flights and six total days of action, Griffin Paul was the last player standing to capture the title along with the seven-digit payday.

The showcase Championship event of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown series had a $3,500 buy-in and drew 1,476 total entrants. They made it through more than 12 hours on the first day for a chance to play on Day 2 and make it into the money.

There was a wide range of poker professionals, champions, and Seminole Hard Rock Poker regulars in action for the big event. Four WSOP Main Event Champions took their shot at the title but none were able to make it deep in the tournament. Ryan Riess (2013), Jonathan Duhamel (2010), Jamie Gold (2006), and Carlos Mortensen (2001) were the world champions in attendance and they played alongside some of our local grinders including Ory Hen, Nigel Murray, Angel Vu, and Gregory Marcus.

The last 150 players in the tournament earned a piece of the $5 million prize pool and it was local professional Darryll “DFish” Fish eliminated in 151st spot to put the rest in the money. Some of the top names to cash in the tournament were Jason Mercier, Faraz Jaka, Brian Hastings, Jared Jaffee, Darren Elias, and Esther Taylor-Brady. Vince Van Patten was another player everyone was watching as the WPT commentator picked up his first career cash in a WPT event.

Day 4 saw the return of 18 players vying for the title including top pros Mohsin Chanaria, Dan Heimiller, Cornel Cimpan, and David Peters.  South Florida poker fans were cheering for local Eli Levy who began the day with the lead, but he was unable to sustain his momentum and was eliminated short of the final table. The pace was quick and it did not take long for Joe Ebanks, Griffin Paul, Brian Green, Shawn Nguyen, Andre Crooks, and Ryan Rivers to book their seat at the nationally televised WPT final table in Hard Rock Live.

Six-handed play lasted for two hours before play heated up. Rivers was the first player sent off the final table when he lost to Ebanks and Green followed at the hands of Paul. Two local favorites were the next to exit and silence the enthusiastic crowd. Nguyen had the biggest group of supports and their cheers could probably be heard across the property when he doubled early. He lasted another hour but was also eliminated by Paul in 4th place.

Crooks had his share of fans and family in the stands and it took a bad beat to send him out. He was ahead with pocket Kings against Ebanks’ pocket Nines but a Nine on the flop ended his day. His knockout set up a heads up battle between Ebanks and Paul for the title.

Ebanks began heads up play with a 2-to-1 advantage but Paul quickly doubled to take away the advantage. He never gave up the lead and it took just 23 more hands for him to become our latest champion along with $1,000,000 for the effort. Ebanks played great throughout the tournament and picked up the well-earned $615,000 prize for his runner-up finish.

This was easily Paul’s biggest poker success. He only had seven career tournament cashes, including a $25,000 payout at this summer’s WSOP series, but this one tops them all.

“It’s like a dream, I’m speechless.” Paul said. “It was a really tough table. I fought some amazing players and here I am.”

“I stayed here last night for the first time. It’s an amazing property.” Paul commented when asked about his experience this week. “Really nice. Beautiful. The staff here is great.”

That concludes the 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, thank you to all the players for making this a great series and congratulations to Griffin Paul on his Championship title.

Final table results:
1st: Griffin Paul (Northridge, CA) – $1,000,000
2nd: Joe Ebanks (Kent, OH) – $615,000
3rd: Andre Crooks (Lake Worth, FL) – $383,000
4th: Shawn Nguyen (West Palm Beach, FL) – $323,500
5th: Brian Green (Decatur, TX) – $269,000
6th: Ryan Rivers (Niagara Falls, ON) – $217,500

Ralph Notaro04222015SHRPOShowdownFinal171 Griffin Paul Champion