2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
$570 Big Stack Double Black Chip Bounty NLH/PLO (Single Re-Entry)
August 4, 2015
Total Entries: 87
Total Prize Pool: $26,100
With fifteen players left, Michael Graffeo was at the bottom of the pile looking up at the rest of the field. But at the end of the tournament he survived a massive early chip leader, two players on their second final table of the series, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Player of the Year leader and a furious charge from German Gomez to claim the Event 5 title.
The tournament reached the final table with ten players left but only nine were getting paid which made for slow going to open things up. And feeling the table out was probably a good idea with SHRP Player of the Year leader Ory Hen there along with mixed games specialist Robert Campbell and Iman Dan. Campbell and Dan had already reached final tables in this series and were looking to finish off the job. But Jean Gaspard’s aggressive play had built up a huge stack with over 30% of the chips in play giving him the early edge over the final group.
Finally, Cesar Fuentes was knocked out by German Gomez and the battle was on. Campbell eliminated Jack Shea in 9th place and in the meantime Gaspard has lost two massive pots to Gomez and Michael Graffeo and then was knocked out by Campbell falling in a stunning 8th place. Gomez then claimed another victim as he sent Charles Sickmeir to the payout window in 7th place.
The final six saw some exciting hands as Iman Dan was down to 20,000 chips but quintupled up in a five-way pot when a river jack gave him a full house saving his tournament life. WSOP bracelet winner Jason Young was then victimized by Robert Campbell to finish in 6th place.
But things would turn south for Campbell as he ran into the Michael Graffeo Express losing consecutive large pots to Graffeo including the elimination hand on a rivered flush. With that, Campbell was out in 5th place. German Gomez then put away Iman Dan in 4th place giving Dan his second top-four of this Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open.
Three-handed play turned out be a brutal affair as Michael Graffeo was in a commanding position but had Ory Hen and Gomez nipping at his heels. Hen and Graffeo were constantly battling but Graffeo has his number tonight and in a 450,000 chip pot ousted Hen in 3rd place. The defeat of Hen left Graffeo with a colossal chip lead. He had 1,216,000 chips and Gomez was left with only 89,000.
But the tide began to turn toward Gomez. Gomez doubled up in an NLH hand and then his PLO hand with kings caught up with Graffeo’s hand with aces and suddenly the lead was cut to a 2:1 deficit. Gomez continued his assult on Graffeo and closed the gap even further before the two of them finally decided to end play. After the chips were counted, Graffeo had managed to hang on to the lead and was crowned the Event 7 Champion.
Graffeo told us about his ride from short stack to champion “(After the dinner break) I’m thinking about just getting it in and doubling it up. I lost aces to aces earlier to Gomez but doubled up twice and got it going from there. Against him (Gaspard) I had ace-queen, hit the ace and I don’t think he believed me and he paid me off and then I knocked him out.”
The battle with Hen and the other talented players at the table is one he’ll always remember after overcoming such a tough group. “I’ve played with really good players over the years and I’ve played with Ory. They’re really good players down here and it was very challenging.”
The heads-up battle and the victory brought back some old memories of tournaments past for Graffeo. “These guys with me were joking with me because I had a guy down to one chip fifteen years ago and he beat me so I was like ‘Not Again’. He had doubled up and then he made some good plays. It was tough – he fought back. But I’m now feeling great. It’s been a long time since I’ve won.”
He was also glad he made the choice to come to Seminole Hard Rock-Hollywood. “I love this place. The staff’s always great – they run a great tournament here. My buddies play here all the time and I chose to go here instead of Vegas so it says a lot about it.”
Congratulations to our Event 7 Champion – Michael Graffeo!
1st: Michael Graffeo (Charlotte, NC) – $7,321
2nd: German Gomez (Miami Beach, FL) – $4,959
3rd: Ory Hen (West Palm Beach, FL) – $3,132
4th: Iman Dan (Los Angeles, CA) – $2,349
5th: Robert Campbell (Miami, FL) – $1,827
6th: Jason Young (New York, NY) – $1,566
7th: Charles Sickmeir (Evansville, IN) – $1,305
8th: Jean Gaspard (Evanston, IL) – $1,044
9th: Jack Shea (Winston-Salem, NC) – $783