2021 Lucky Hearts Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida Event 26 $2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry) Entries: 113 Prize Pool: $226,000 January 26-27, 2021
Even at the end of the 2021 Lucky Hearts Poker Open, events were crushing all expectations for turnout, and Event 26 ($2,200 Deep Stack PLO) was no different. The field size more than tripled from 35 entries a year ago to 113, creating a first prize of $66,671 that was almost equal to last year’s entire prizepool ($70,000).
And it featured a dramatic finish.
Richard Gayler was the shortest stack in the field when there were two tables left, but he bounced back to start the final table as the chipleader, and then knocked out second-in-chips Haim Or Krief to take a massive chip lead with 63% of all the chips in play.
Gayler continued adding to his stack, knocking out four of the five final tablists on his way to getting heads-up against John Orfanos with more than a 12-to-1 chip lead.
But that’s where the story took another dramatic turn.
“I’m super comfortable playing short-stacked. It’s one of my specialties,” said Orfanos, who loves pot-limit Omaha and considers it to be his strongest game. “As long as I have chips, I have a chance.”
Gayler’s momentum screeched to a halt as Orfanos won pot after pot, scoring a few early double-ups from preflop all-ins, and then steadily working his way back to even — and then the chip lead.
The next time they got it all in, Orfanos had more than a 3-to-1 chip lead, and he also had pocket aces () that held up for the victory.
When asked about his comeback, Orfanos said, “It feels awesome to accomplish something like that, when your odds are less than, I’d say, 5-6%. It was amazing.”
“I just want to thank everyone that supports me,” said Orfanos, “and I want to dedicate this to my father who died two years ago.” Orfanos paused for a moment, a bit choked up as he looked toward the heavens. “This is for you, Dad.”