Nicholas Mahabee Makes His Move And It Leads To Victory At Seminole Hard Rock “Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open”

There is a line in the movie Risky Business that goes “Sometimes you gotta say what the f***. Make your move.” It’s a line that fits in perfectly with poker at times, especially in certain situations. Nicholas Mahabee had one of those “what the f***” moments in Event 15 here at Seminole Hard Rock “Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open”. It was either put up or shut up time and Mahabee decided to go for it. To make his move. Two players had the majority of the chips at the table with 7 remaining. Normally, in that situation you want to avoid the huge confrontation with the other chip leader. No one told Mahabee and Jorge Gomez that and the two went heads up in a pot that would ultimately determine the winner. Gomez had the better hand but Nicholas had opportunity. Potential. He made his move and that potential came through. The rest, as they say… is history.

There was a total of 188 paid entries in this $150 No Limit Hold ‘Em tournament and 18 players would end up making the money. It wouldn’t be until nearly 3 a.m. that we would get to our final table of ten and when we did this is how the seating assignments and chip counts looked:

Seat 1Michael Cairo (Valrico, FL)75K
Seat 2Jorge Gomez (Miami, FL)260K
Seat 3Cilea Organ (Miami, FL)65K
Seat 4Brian Phillis (Boynton Beach, FL)125K
Seat 5Javier Vega (Hialeah, FL)105K
Seat 6Nicholas Mahabee (Miami, FL)250K
Seat 7Paul Pantoja (Hialeah, FL)35K
Seat 8Jonathan Ounjian (Boca Raton, FL)80K
Seat 9Joey Prosper (Miami, FL)75K
Seat 10Milord Vital (FL)40K

Milord Vital is a 50 year old regular at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock. Milord came into the final table as one of the two shortest stacks and when he called a small raise from chip leader Jorge Gomez out of the big blind with 9-3 and the flop came nine high, he decided that was good enough for him and moved all in. Unfortunately for Vital, Gomez had pocket Jacks and made the easy call. The turn and river were no help for Milord and he was our first player eliminated.

Seat 10 - Milord Vital
10th place, Milord Vital – $350

Cilea Organ was one of the shortest stacks at the table but she had just enough chips to induce a fold when Michael Cairo opened for 12K and Jorge Gomez called. Her all in move worked and she added over 50% to her stack.  A few moments later, Joey Prosper raised to 12K and Cairo called. It was folded to Nicholas Mahabee on the button who decided to make it 50K to go. This was enough to get Prosper to fold but Michael had AdKs and was willing to risk his tournament life with Big Slick. He had just under the 50K so he announced that he was all in. Nicholas shrugged as if his hand had been caught in the cookie jar and said “I just have 3’s” as he turned over his hand. Just 3’s would turn into more when a 3 would flop. Cairo was unable to find a way to catch up and Mahabee moved into the chip lead over Gomez for the time being. There will probably be bigger scores ahead for Cairo, a real estate developer from Valrico, Florida who has been playing poker for 35 years and who plays regularly here at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock.

Seat 1 - Michael Cairo
9th place, Michael Cairo – $440

The remaining eight players went on a break and our updated chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1Jorge Gomez (Miami, FL)265K
Seat 2Cilea Organ (Miami, FL)71K
Seat 3Brian Phillis (Boynton Beach, FL)141K
Seat 4Javier Vega (Hialeah, FL)86K
Seat 5Nicholas Mahabee (Miami, FL)368K
Seat 6Paul Pantoja (Hialeah, FL)63K
Seat 7Jonathan Ounjian (Boca Raton, FL)57K
Seat 8Joey Prosper (Miami, FL)36K

With the blinds at 3K/6K with a 1K ante, the aggressive Jorge Gomez opened the action for 20K. It was folded to Jonathan Ounjian who moved all in for his last 55K. Jorge called quickly tabling pocket 8’s. Jonathan proudly turned over Kings and was in great shape to score a double up. Gomez asked for an 8 and the dealer obliged as the flop came Ac8d4d. Ounjian put his head down in disbelief, glancing up to see if he could catch his own miracle on the turn or river. He could not and the 30 year old tournament regular who took 5th place in the $150 Double Stack Turbo event last week would have to be content with two final table finishes in just over a week. Gomez in the meantime smiled and told the dealer “I love you. Thank you very much.”

Seat 8 - Jonathan Ounjion
8th place, Jonathan Ounjian – $620

The hand that would ultimately determine the fate of the tournament and provide Nicholas Mahabee with his “what the f***” moment then took place. Jorge Gomez and Mahabee were far and away the two chip leaders at the table as no one was within 100K of their stacks. So it was a small surprise when the two decided to butt heads. There was nearly 300K in the pot already when we got to a turn of Kh6s3s3c. Mahabee led out for 80K and was met with an almost instant all in raise from Gomez. The stacks were dead even and Mahabee knew it would be for his tournament life. He had about 125K left behind if he folded. Maybe a little more. He was thinking it through. Looking back at the clock to see what the pay jump would be. And it was as if Miles from Risky Business was whispering in his ear telling him “Sometimes you just have to say what the f***”.

“I guess I have to,” said Nicholas somewhat reluctantly, placing the rest of his chips into the middle. Gomez turned over the AcKd. “I need a ten or a spade,” Mahabee said as he showed the rest of the table his hand… KsTs. With no fanfare, the dealer burned and placed the river card out. It was the 9s giving Nicholas the flush and the monster pot. Gomez had 2K left after the tough break and would be eliminated a few hands later.

Seat 2- Jorge Gomez
7th place, Jorge Gomez – $835

Cilea Organ has multiple final table tournament cashes to her credit, including a 2nd place at the Wynn in Las Vegas for over $15,000. One thing she doesn’t have is a win and she desperately wanted to add that to her poker resume today and said as much several times. It was folded to her in the small blind and with a moderately short stack she moved all in with a strong hand for her situation… K-9. Unfortunately for her the big blind, Brian Phillis had an Ace and decided to make the call. The Ace would end up playing and Cilea would have to wait another day to pick up her first tournament victory.

Seat 3 - Cilea O.
6th place, Cilea Organ – $1,070

When we were down to 11 players, Paul Pantoja lost a pot that left him with enough chips for two antes. He folded the first hand dealt to him leaving him with literally and figuratively with one chip. Four hands and a couple miracles later, Pantoja would be over 30K in chips. Ah, the crazy game that is No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Pantoja had been hanging around, hanging around the final table and was down to his last 25K when he found pocket Aces as the perfect time to score a double up through Nicholas Mahabee who had raised from the small blind on Pantoja’s big blind.

Joey Prosper would also find some good fortune, tripling up when his Q-9 would hit a 9 on the flop and Nicholas Mahabee gave him some protection by betting 50K into a dry side pot on a 9-3-2 two diamond flop withQd4d. The bet caused some debate at the table as Brian Phillis said he would have knocked Prosper out if Mahabee had checked. Nicholas shrugged as if to say “whatever” and play resumed.

Pantoja would continue his climb and Mahabee continue giving some of his massive stack away when Pantoja moved all in with K-Q and would hit a King to best the A-7 of Mahabee. “You can’t be killed,” joked Nicholas after the hand. Paul grinned as he stacked his chips – now almost up to 100K.

Nicholas would lose even more chips and see his chip lead almost gone when he would bet 30K on a J-6-9-9-T board and get called by Brian Phillis who had A-J. “You’re good,” said Mahabee as he showed A-6. The chips kept moving around the table out of Mahabee’s stack as he sent another 35K to Javier Vega with 3h2h against pocket Aces on a Qs6d2d flop and no 3 or 2 came to deliver the cruel knock out to Vega.

Joey Prosper had turned down a chip chop with 5 players left and it was perhaps karma that led to his elimination as he moved all in with As9h and the ever gambling “what the f***” Nicholas Mahabee made the call with the Ah6h. Prosper was looking good on the Qs5c2d flop and was still ahead on the 3c turn. Only a 4 or a 6 would give Mahabee the hand and much to Prosper’s chagrin the dealer would give him one of those two… the 4s on the river to give Nicholas a six high straight. The 58 year old Prosper has countless cashes in the South Florida tournament scene including 3rd and 4th place finishes at tournaments here at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock. Still short of that elusive win, but a fine result nonetheless.

Seat 9 - Joey Prosper
5th place, Joey Prosper – $1,410

It was getting late… past 5 in the morning… and even Mahabee’s two rail birds were having trouble keeping their eyes open.


Perhaps motivated by his declining stack and the late hour, Mahabee decided to accept a chip count chop that would award him the win and Seminole Hard Rock “Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open” winner’s plaque. The final four would be as follows:

Our chip and a chair survivalist, 27 year old Paul Pantoja would finish in 4th place for $2,946. Paul took 2nd place in the Main Event in May, 2013 here for $67,563 so to say he’s had some success at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock would be an understatement. He plays here three times a week and said he loves the “fish” here. A former member of our Armed Forces, he’s now a full time poker player whose favorite hand is pocket 10’s.

Seat 7 - Paul Pantoja
4th place, Paul Pantoja – $2,946

This was Javier Vega’s biggest reported tournament score with his previous best being a 64th place finish at a $350 tournament here at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock in August of 2012 for $1,359. Javier did tell us that he had a $32,000 cash at some point though. He’s been playing poker for 13 years and plays often here and most admires Steve Karp in the poker world.

Seat 5- Javier Vega
3rd place, Javier Vega – $2,976

This was Brian Phillis’ best reported finish in a tournament but not his biggest cash as he had two cashes in excess of $5,000 earlier this year. Regardless, it’s a fine outcome for the poker player originally from Iowa now residing in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Seat 4 - Brian Phillips
2nd place, Brian Phillis – $4,635

Our winner, 24 year old computer engineer Nicholas Mahabee has been playing poker for six years. “I play at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock a lot,” Mahabee told us. “I love how it’s always busy here and all the fish that play here.” This is Mahabee’s biggest tournament success to date as he mainly plays $2/$5 and $5/$10 No Limit cash games. Nicholas will be riding his success here into the Main Event coming up this weekend. A grinning Mahabee joked about how he had the best rail (not knowing that they had actually fallen asleep watching) and said he most admires poker players like Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan. Interesting since those two players have similar “what the f***” attitudes that serve them well.

Congratulations on the win Nicholas!

Event 15 Winner, Nicholas Mahabee
Event 15 Winner, Nicholas Mahabee – $4,922