2015 Showdown Live Updates

2015 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship Recap

2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
$5,000,000 Guarantee

April 16 – 22nd, 2015

Total Entries:  1,476
Total Prize Pool:  $5,000,000

Ralph Notaro04222015SHRPOShowdownFinal172 Griffin Paul champion

The 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship kicked off on April 16 with a $5,000,000 prize pool and a week later we saw one player walk away with $1,000,000. After three starting flights and six total days of action, Griffin Paul was the last player standing to capture the title along with the seven-digit payday.

The showcase Championship event of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown series had a $3,500 buy-in and drew 1,476 total entrants. They made it through more than 12 hours on the first day for a chance to play on Day 2 and make it into the money.

There was a wide range of poker professionals, champions, and Seminole Hard Rock Poker regulars in action for the big event. Four WSOP Main Event Champions took their shot at the title but none were able to make it deep in the tournament. Ryan Riess (2013), Jonathan Duhamel (2010), Jamie Gold (2006), and Carlos Mortensen (2001) were the world champions in attendance and they played alongside some of our local grinders including Ory Hen, Nigel Murray, Angel Vu, and Gregory Marcus.

The last 150 players in the tournament earned a piece of the $5 million prize pool and it was local professional Darryll “DFish” Fish eliminated in 151st spot to put the rest in the money. Some of the top names to cash in the tournament were Jason Mercier, Faraz Jaka, Brian Hastings, Jared Jaffee, Darren Elias, and Esther Taylor-Brady. Vince Van Patten was another player everyone was watching as the WPT commentator picked up his first career cash in a WPT event.

Day 4 saw the return of 18 players vying for the title including top pros Mohsin Chanaria, Dan Heimiller, Cornel Cimpan, and David Peters.  South Florida poker fans were cheering for local Eli Levy who began the day with the lead, but he was unable to sustain his momentum and was eliminated short of the final table. The pace was quick and it did not take long for Joe Ebanks, Griffin Paul, Brian Green, Shawn Nguyen, Andre Crooks, and Ryan Rivers to book their seat at the nationally televised WPT final table in Hard Rock Live.

Six-handed play lasted for two hours before play heated up. Rivers was the first player sent off the final table when he lost to Ebanks and Green followed at the hands of Paul. Two local favorites were the next to exit and silence the enthusiastic crowd. Nguyen had the biggest group of supports and their cheers could probably be heard across the property when he doubled early. He lasted another hour but was also eliminated by Paul in 4th place.

Crooks had his share of fans and family in the stands and it took a bad beat to send him out. He was ahead with pocket Kings against Ebanks’ pocket Nines but a Nine on the flop ended his day. His knockout set up a heads up battle between Ebanks and Paul for the title.

Ebanks began heads up play with a 2-to-1 advantage but Paul quickly doubled to take away the advantage. He never gave up the lead and it took just 23 more hands for him to become our latest champion along with $1,000,000 for the effort. Ebanks played great throughout the tournament and picked up the well-earned $615,000 prize for his runner-up finish.

This was easily Paul’s biggest poker success. He only had seven career tournament cashes, including a $25,000 payout at this summer’s WSOP series, but this one tops them all.

“It’s like a dream, I’m speechless.” Paul said. “It was a really tough table. I fought some amazing players and here I am.”

“I stayed here last night for the first time. It’s an amazing property.” Paul commented when asked about his experience this week. “Really nice. Beautiful. The staff here is great.”

That concludes the 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, thank you to all the players for making this a great series and congratulations to Griffin Paul on his Championship title.

Final table results:
1st: Griffin Paul (Northridge, CA) – $1,000,000
2nd: Joe Ebanks (Kent, OH) – $615,000
3rd: Andre Crooks (Lake Worth, FL) – $383,000
4th: Shawn Nguyen (West Palm Beach, FL) – $323,500
5th: Brian Green (Decatur, TX) – $269,000
6th: Ryan Rivers (Niagara Falls, ON) – $217,500

Ralph Notaro04222015SHRPOShowdownFinal171 Griffin Paul Champion

Championship: Griffin Paul Wins Championship ($1,000,000), Joe Ebanks Second ($615,000)

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 35: 200,000/400,000/50,000 Ante

Let the celebration begin.  There’s a new name going on the WPT Champions Cup here at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood.  His name is Griffin Paul.

On the final hand, Paul called Joe Ebanks big blind but Ebanks was not standing still raising to 1,500,000 and Paul made the call.

The flop came out 4hKdJc and Ebanks led out for one million.  Paul went all-in and Ebanks decided it was time to try to double up and made the call.

Unfortunately for Ebanks, his AdJh had hit second pair but Paul held Kc9d for top pair and was two cards away from the title.

After a 4d on the turn, Paul’s rail began to raise the volume in Hard Rock Live as he was one card from the title.  As the tension built, the 6s came on the turn and the 22-year old Griffin Paul was a WPT champion and a millionaire as well.  His family and friends were ecstatic screaming and celebrating all over the set.  All Paul could say that the win “unbelievable” and we won’t give the exact quote when he was asked what it was like to have won a million dollars but let’s just say he thought it was “pretty cool”.

Joe Ebanks also has reason to celebrate his second place finish as he brings home $615,000 for his efforts over the past five days.

Congratulations to the Seminole Hard Rock WPT Poker Showdown Champion and newest poker millionaire – Griffin Paul!

Championship Event Champion Griffin Paul
Championship Event Champion
Griffin Paul
Joe Ebanks - 2nd Place ($615,000)
Joe Ebanks – 2nd Place ($615,000)

Championship: Paul Wins Race To Grab Chip Lead

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 34: 150,000/300,000/50,000 Ante

Joe Ebanks started things off with a raise to 600,000 and Griffin Paul re-raised to 1.8 million. Ebanks put in another raise, making it 3.5 million. As has been his custom, Paul had his mouth covered with his jacket, using his hand to hold it up. He peeked back at his cards and then announced that he was all in. Ebanks quickly called and turned over 6h6d. He would pump his fists as he stood up when he saw Paul was behind with his AcJs.

The crowd started yelling out different cards depending on who they were rooting for. Some were yelling for an ace or a jack, obviously that was the Paul contingent. Others yelled for any card but an ace or a jack — the Ebanks crowd.

It would be Paul’s rail that would get their wishes fulfilled as the flop came AhQd9d. Screaming and screeching ensued as their man was one step closer to taking the chip lead. He would do precisely that when the turn was the 8s and the river was the 2c.

Paul, who had been pacing the stage nervously, pumped his fists, having doubled up to nearly 31 million and taking control of the heads up match with a more than 2:1 chip lead.

Seat 1: Griffin Paul 30,950,000 (103 bb)
Seat 2: Joe Ebanks 13,275,000 (44 bb)

Joe Ebanks awaits his fate
Joe Ebanks awaits his fate

Championship: First Hand, First Blood To Ebanks

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 34: 150,000/300,000/50,000 Ante

The first hand of heads-up turned out to be a big one to kick things off.  Joe Ebanks fired out 600,000 and Griffin Paul made the call.

The flop came out AdTc2d and both player checked.  Then the Td hit the turn.  Paul checked to open the action and Ebanks bet 700,000.  Paul decided to make the call and take the hand to the river.

After the 3h hit the river, Paul checked one more time but Ebanks was unrelenting betting 3,500,000.  Paul took some to ponder his decision and ended up making the call.

Ebanks turned over  Td7h for trip tens and Paul mucked.  Ebanks extended his lead on the hand taking his stack to 30,325,000 to Paul’s 13,900,000.

Championship: Andre Crooks – 3rd Place ($383,000)

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 33: 100,000/200,000/25,000 Ante

Chips were flying pre-flop and it all started with Joe Ebanks raising to 550,000. Andre Crooks made it 1.1 million to go and the action was back on Ebanks who put in another raise – this time to 2.35 million total.

Crooks wasn’t done yet though as he put in yet another raise, for 4.8 million which was nearly half of his remaining stack. Ebanks didn’t think long before moving all in and he was immediately called by Crooks who had the second best starting hand in poker with his KcKs. Ebanks had a pair of his own, nines again, as he held 9h9d.

To say nines have been treating Ebanks well today would be an understatement as the flop came AsJh9c causing the crowd to let out some “ooooohhhhhs” and “aaaaaahhhhhs” as Ebanks had seized control of the hand with his set.

Someone on the rail yelled “deuce” as the dealer put out the 4d. “Deuce,” came the yell again as they paused the action for dramatic effect. Finally, they burned and flipped over the river card.

It was the Th and that was the end of Andre Crooks tournament life who could at least take some consolation in getting it in with the best hand and the $383,000 payday he took home for his third place finish.

They are taking a brief break to set up for the money presentation. Here are the chip counts as we enter heads up action:

Seat 1: Griffin Paul 17,750,000 (89 bb)
Seat 2: Joe Ebanks 26,475,000 (132 bb)

Ralph Notaro04222015SHRPOShowdownFinal158 Andre CrooksAndre Crooks – 3rd place


Championship: Shawn Nguyen – 4th Place ($323,500)

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 33: 100,000/200,000/25,000 Ante

As this final table, the players had split into two groups: three big stacks and three short stacks.  And the final one of the short stacks was just knocked out as Shawn Nguyen has fallen to the dismay of his large group of fans.

Before the flop, Joe Ebanks bet 450,000.   Shawn Nguyen then raised to 1,100,000 million.  Ebanks did not back down and re-raised to 2,150,000.  And now with a choice of letting it go or playing for his tournament life, Nguyen pushed the remainder of his chips in the middle and saw he was in a race to stay alive.

Ebanks: 9c9s
Nguyen: AdTs

With a raucous crowed cheering for Nguyen, the flop didn’t go their way as the cards came out 3cJs6h. Every possible chant for ace Nguyen’s fan base could come up with was shouted but the 4c showed up on the turn. Ebanks then got a chance to celebrate as the 4h came out on the river giving him the hand and the elimination.

Shawn Nguyen’s tournament was over and he finishes in 4th place for $323,500.

Here are the chip counts for the remaining three players:

Seat 1: Griffin Paul 16,725,000 (84 bb)
Seat 2: Joe Ebanks 18,400,000 (92 bb)
Seat 6: Andre Crooks 9,100,000 (46 bb)

Shawn Nguyen - 4th Place ($323,500)
Shawn Nguyen – 4th Place ($323,500)


Championship: Nguyening Without A Showdown

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 33: 100,000/200,000/25,000 Ante

Shawn Nguyen opened to 475,000 and Andre Crooks called out of the small blind. The flop came  AcKs9d and both players checked. The turn was the 7c and Crooks bet 650,000. Nguyen made the call.

The river was the Jd and Crooks made another bet, this time for 1.375 million. Nguyen thought for a bit and then made the call. Crooks mucked his hand which meant Nguyen did not have to show his hand. He slid his cards to the dealer and once again his rail let out a load roar of approval.

Championship: Brian Green – 5th Place ($269,000)

$3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
Level 33: 100,000/200,000/25,000 Ante

The second of the three short stacks has been eliminated from our championship event.

Griffin Paul bet 400,000 pre-flop and Brian Green went over the top for his remaining 1,950,000. Green couldn’t have timed it much worse as Paul was sitting on a big hand.

Paul: JdJs
Green: AsTc

The flop ran out 4s7cQh leaving Green hoping to pull off the miracle. He got no help on the 4c turn and with 5d coming out on the river, Brian Green’s outstanding run through this tournament was ended.

Green finishes in 5th place for $269,000.

Here are the chip counts for the final four players:

Seat 1: Griffin Paul 15,475,000 (77 bb)
Seat 2: Joe Ebanks 12,775,000 (64 bb)
Seat 4: Shawn Nguyen 4,000,000 (20 bb)
Seat 6: Andre Crooks 11,975,000 (60 bb)

Brian Green - 5th Place ($269,000)
Brian Green – 5th Place ($269,000)