Event 9: Rich Alati Takes the Trophy in Heads Up Chop

2019 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 
Hollywood, Florida
Event 9
$1,100 No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
$250,000 Guaranteed
Entries: 689

Prize Pool: $668,330
April 8-10, 2019

Rich Alati

The day started with 107 of the 689 entrants returning in Event 9, a multi-flight $1,100 buy-in with $250,000 guaranteed.  Following about 12 hours of play, Richard Alati captured the win after a heads-up cop with Sam Panzica. The victory earned Alati $107,740 while Panzica scored $100,836.

The first order of business in the restart was bursting the money bubble. This happened in the second level of the day when Ryan McKnight’s pocket queens got cracked by Kyle Carson’s pocket jacks. Tournament staff Jordan Cutter was announcing for all the room to hear when the jack spiked the river.

Among those notable players who cashed include, Tony Dunst, Eli Levy, David Baker, Eric Baldwin,  Mike Azzaro,  Michael Dyer, Ory Hen, and Wally Maddah.

When the field reached the final three tables, it was the eventual runner-up Panzica in the lead. He carried that lead into the dinner break with nineteen players left while start-of-day chip leader Ofer Peleg bowwed out in 22nd place finish good for $4,672.

Darryll Fish was the first to go once the final two tables were combined. It was a cooler situation as Fish ran his pocket queens into Panzica’s pocket aces to extend his lead.

The champion, Alati, was next to score a knockout at the hands of Peter Eichhardt in another cooler situation. This time it was Eichhardts’s pocket kings against Alati’s pocket aces.

Panzica had almost double his next closest competitor when the 10-handed final table commenced and Rich Alati started his fury of knockouts with Haim Toorgeman in 10th place by winning a classic coin flip.

Roberto Bendeck took out Kurt Lichtman in ninth place, then it was Panzica’s turn. In a battle of the blinds he took out Marcus Gonsalves with ace-queen versus ace-jack.

After that Alati went on a knock out spree. His first casualty was Kyle Carson, followed by Roberto Bendeck, and Judy Miller. His fourth elimination in a row was Philip Pizzari Pinto in fourth place.

This set up the stacked three-handed play with Alati in the lead against Panzica and Ryan Olisar. Olisar shortly doubled through Alati to break his knock out streak. The stacks were near even at that point and Alati joked, “You guys take the money, I just want the trophy.”

On the last hand before break, Alati turned a straight against Olisar’s top pair to send the action to heads up. The final two players elected to chop it up with Alati’s lead garnering him the trophy.

In a moment of inspiring prose, Darren Rabinowitz tells the table, “Rich Alati, just emerging from his month of solitary confinement and still squinting under the bright lights, is victorious.”

He’s referring to the prop bet that Alati won a few months back when he successfully stayed in a blacked out and sound proof bathroom for 20 days straight.

“The prop bet definitely helped to get me centered. It gave me some time to reflect on a lot of things. It helped me be more patient at the table, more calm, and to think logically”

Alati called his shot in a group chat to his friends. He told them the day of the tournament to not play the tournament because he was going to win. They didn’t listen, though he did give them a shout out, as well as his family.

Final Table Results:

1st: Richard Alati – $107,740*
2nd: Sam Panzica –  $100,836*
3rd: Ryan Olisar – $55,425
4th: Philipe Pizzari Pinto – $40,695
5th: Judy Miller – $31,077
6th: Roberto Bendeck- $24,775
7th: Kyle Carson – $20,518
8th: Markus Gonsalves – $16,334
9th: Kurt Lichtman – $12,264
10th: Haim Toorgeman – $10,159

*denotes chop agreement