2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions
Prize Pool: $1,090,000
April 7 – 9, 2017
The 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown finished on a high note with the WPT Tournament of Champions bringing out some of the best players in the world to close out the series. After three tough days and a long final table, Daniel Weinman beat Florida poker legend Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi heads up for the title and $381,500.
“I feel incredible,” Weinman said afterward. “This is such a tough tournament and to come out on top is super special.”
The $15,000 buy-in tournament generated a prize pool worth $1,090,000 and was only open to members of the World Poker Tour Champions Club, players must have won a prior WPT event if they wanted into this exclusive tournament. There were 66 former WPT champions taking part and included some interesting storylines from the beginning.
Ema Zajmovic was the only female in the field as the first WPT open tournament female champion. WPT Commentator Mike Sexton was sitting to her left and the Poker Hall of Famer earned his seat in the game when he captured his first WPT title in Montreal late in 2016.
The two most recent additions to the WPT Champions Club earned their place right here before the TOC kicked off. Tony Sinishtaj conquered the 1,207-entry field in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship and 2013 WSOP Main Event champ Ryan Riess made it through a tough final table to win the WPT Showdown Finale.
After ten levels on Day 1, 30 players made it through with defending champ Farid Yachou bagging up chips for Day 2. Mizrachi finished the first day with the chip had held it for long periods on Day 2.
With only nine players earning a piece of the prize pool, it was slow going when action restarted despite the 30-second “action clock” in use for the tournament. There were still 12 players around after six full, hour-long levels but they quickly played down to the money bubble after the dinner break.
WPT World Poker Challenge champ Lee Markholt was sent out by Mizrachi in 10th place to put the remaining players in the money and down to the final table. Jonathan Jaffe, Stefan Schillhabel, and former WSOP November Niner Jesse Sylvia earned some money but were not among the final six to book their seat on the main stage table in the Hard Rock Live arena.
Recent WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open winner Weinman finished Day 2 holding the chip lead with five tough players trying to chase him down including Mizrachi and eight-time WSOP champ Erik Seidel.
Final table lineup:
Seat 1: Michael Mizrachi – 699,000
Seat 2: Daniel Weinman – 872,000
Seat 3: David Ormsby – 299,000
Seat 4: Daniel Santoro – 250,000
Seat 5: Erik Seidel – 540,000
Seat 6: Dylan Wilkerson – 641,000
Dylan Wilkerson began the final table in the middle of the pack but hit the exit in sixth place after losing most of his chips in a kings-versus-aces hand against Santoro. Seidel followed Wilkerson out of the door soon after as Santoro edged towards the lead.
David Ormsby was never able to get much going at the final table but the Canadian held on to reach fourth place money as Santoro increased his late lead. That lead slowly evaporated as the last three players settled into a long, hours-long battle.
Santoro had his day end at the hands of Weinman in third place to start the heads up match for the title. Weinman began with a five-to-one chip lead but though Mizrachi doubled back with a six-outer to make it even it out.
They played less than 20 hands heads up and Weinman finally overcame the three-time WSOP bracelet winner to earn the WPT Tournament of Champions title, a seat in next year’s tournament, a brand-new Audi, and $381,500. It was another great TOC performance by Mizrachi and he improved from his third place finish in last year’s event.
Weinman was one of the most recent players to join the WPT Champions Club having earned his way in a few months ago in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. He now owns a WPT Tournament of Champions title after negotiating through a tough field.
“This is crazy – you usually play tournaments with a thousand people and there might be 850 people that don’t have a chance of winning the tournament,” Weinman said of the event.
“They can go deep but they’re not going to be comfortable with all the spots they’ll encounter.” he continued. “But having 66 people that have already won this and had success in the poker world – coming out on top is incredible.”
WPT Tournament of Champions results:
1st: Daniel Weinman – $381,500 *
2nd: Michael Mizrachi – $218,000
3rd: Daniel Santoro – $133,525
4th: David Ormsby – $95,375
5th: Erik Seidel – $73,575
6th: Dylan Wilkerson – $57,225
7th: Stefan Schillhabel – $49,050
8th: Jesse Sylvia – $43,600
9th: Jonathan Jaffe – $38,150
* – Includes 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions seat