2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$360 Buy-In H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)
Prize Pool: $26,400
August 3, 2018
James Gunter hasn’t played tournament poker in over a decade. The extended hiatus from tournament action ended on Friday afternoon at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood when the 38-year-old hopped in the $360 HORSE.
He returned to the proverbial ring with a vengeance, besting the 88-entry field and taking home $8,514 and his first Hard Rock trophy.
“I haven’t played many tournaments in the last 10 or 12 years,” said Gunter after his victory. “I’ve been playing mainly pot-limit Omaha up in Milwaukee. I just moved back to Florida. I just moved back down here in April.”
Gunter was born and raised in Plant City, located about 20 miles east of Tampa. He cut his teeth on the felt in Tampa before relocating to a colder climate, where he found himself playing more PLO cash games than anything else.
With most of his recent experience playing PLO, Gunter wasn’t even planning on taking a shot at this event. It took a little convincing from a buddy.
“My friend talked me into playing it,” said Gunter. “He ended up putting me in it. I didn’t even buy into it. He put me into it.”
Gunter’s friend made the right decision and now has a piece of the first place prize money coming his way.
Earning the trophy and $8,514 wasn’t an easy task. Gunter squared off with three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner ‘Miami’ John Cernuto.
Cernuto started off with a slight chip lead, but with the limits rising and the stacks getting shallower, Gunter’s heater at the start of heads-up play, sealed the deal.
“I actually won seven hold’em hands in a row,” said Gunter about the heads-up match. “That’s how I got so far ahead.”
After running away in hold’em, Gunter finished the job in Omaha hi-lo, when he rivered a full house to bust Cernuto in second.
Cernuto earned $5,148 for his runner-up finish in what was his 483rd career cash. He is just two cashes behind Men Nguyen, who sits at the top of the all-time list.
Pete Walsworth made his second consecutive final table of the series. He won the $360 Omaha hi-lo on Thursday night and almost took down back-to-back events. He finished fourth for $2,165.
As for the rest of the series, Gunter doesn’t have anything set in stone. But with a win under his belt, he might be taking a shot in the near future.
“I like PLO, so I may play the 8-or-better tomorrow,” said Gunter. “We’ll see what happens from there.”
With 88 entries in the field, the top 11 spots finished in the money. Here are a look at the results:
1st: James Gunter – $8,514
2nd: John Cernuto – $5,148
3rd: Michael Soroka – $3,201
4th: Pete Walsworth – $2,165
5th: Jeff Green – $1,650
6th: Christopher Hannon – $1,320
7th: Jacobo Fernandez – $1,096
8th: David May – $924
9th: Dale Phillips – $851
10th: Reinaldo Trutschel – $792
11th: David Brown – $739