The 2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open ran August 2 through 14 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The property’s flagship event didn’t disappoint with some huge turnouts and plenty of six-figure scores — 29 to be exact. Headlining the action was the return of The Big 4 with $6,500,000 in combined guarantees.
Here’s a look at the series champions including The Big 4 winners and Mark Dube who earned a pair of Seminoles trophies:
2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida SHRPO Championship $5,250 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry) $3,000,000 Guaranteed Entries: 914 Prize Pool: $4,432,900 August 10-14, 2018
Brandon Eisen came into the final table of the $5,250 SHRPO Championship with the chip lead, and while he didn’t lead wire-to-wire, he comfortably cruised to heads-up play against Jeremy Ausmus.
Even though Eisen entered heads-up play with a big lead, both players had more than 100 big blinds, and Ausmus put up a strong fight that lasted more hands (84 hands) than it took to reach heads-up play (61 hands). But Eisen came out on top to win the top prize of $771,444.
These were the official chip counts at the start of the final table:
In Hand #8, Stoyan Obreshkov and Marcos Exterkotter built up a pot of 3.2 million on a board of . Obreshkov moved all in, and Exterkotter called with . But Obreshkov turned over for a seven-high straight to send Exterkotter home in ninth place.
Marcos Exterkotter – Eliminated in 9th Place ($77,132)
In Hand #17, Joseph Cheong shoved for 13 big blinds with , but it failed to hold up against the of Jeremy Ausmus, and Cheong busted in eighth place.
Joseph Cheong – Eliminated in 8th Place ($102,843)
In Hand #26, Jared Griener check-raised all in after a flop of . Obreshkov called with , and Griener was on a draw with . The on the turn completed Griener’s flush, but the on the river gave Obreshkov a full house to eliminate Griener in seventh place.
Jared Griener – Eliminated in 7th Place ($129,308)
Ido Ashkenazi had been the short stack ever since Cheong busted, and he had slowly dwindled down to just five big blinds by the time he shoved with in Hand #54. Unfortunately, he ran into Eisen’s , and the best hand held up to bust Ashkenazi in sixth place.
Ido Ashkenazi – Eliminated in 6th Place ($156,215)
Three hands later, in Hand #57, Adam Adler three-bet all in with , and Ausmus called with . Usually this would be a chop, with Adler the favorite to make a flush. But the board came , sending Adler home in fifth place on one of the most annoying beats in hold’em.
Adam Adler – Eliminated in 5th Place ($195,491)
The players were still talking about that hand when another all-in situation developed in Hand #58. Eisen four-bet all in, and D’Angelo called with — the same hand that sent Adler home a few minutes earlier. Eisen turned over , and it was a race situation.
The board came , and the pocket sixes held for Eisen to win the pot and eliminate D’Angelo in fourth place.
Ryan D’Angelo – Eliminated in 4th Place ($258,615)
Stoyan Obreshkov was the short stack at that point, but he still had more than 50 big blinds, and with 90-minute levels, there should have been no sense of urgency.
But three hands later, in Hand #61, Obreshkov raised, Ausmus called, and Eisen three-bet it from the big blind. Obreshkov called, and Ausmus folded. There was already more than 2.8 million in the pot as the flop came . Eisen bet 900K, and Obreshkov called, building the pot to 4.6 million.
The turn card was the , Eisen check-raised all in, and Obreshkov called with and a freshly-turned pair of queens. But Eisen turned over , and when the hit the river, Obreshkov was out in third place.
Stoyan Obreshkov – Eliminated in 3rd Place ($349,889)
Unbelievably, it took only 61 hands to shrink the field down from nine to two, but that meant the final two were deep, with more than 100 big blinds each. These were the approximate chip counts at the start of heads-up play:
The situation didn’t change much over the next 23 hands. Then, in Hand #84, Eisen and Ausmus saw a flop of . Ausmus bet 300,000, and Eisen called. the turn was the , Ausmus bet 800,000, and Eisen called.
The river card was the , Ausmus checked, Eisen bet 2.1 million, and Ausmus check-raised to 8 million. Eisen eventually called with for a rivered nine-high straight, but Ausmus turned over to win a pot worth 18.9 million with a flopped full house.
The chip stacks didn’t change too much over the next 22 hands, until the next big pot in Hand #107. Eisen three-bet it before a flop of , and then check-called a 1 million bet from Ausmus. The turn was the , and again Eisen checked, Ausmus bet 2.5 million, and Eisen called.
With 9.95 million in the pot, the river card was the . Eisen checked for the third street in a row, and Ausmus moved all in.
Eisen tanked for a long time before he called, and Ausmus showed for a flopped two pair. But Eisen turned over to win the pot with a jack-high straight and double up into a massive 30 million-to-6 million chip lead.
Ausmus was knocked down, but not out, and he fought hard for more than an hour on the short stack, making great folds and unwilling to give up.
2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida Event 20 $2,650 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry) Entries: 422 Prize Pool: $1,023,350 August 12-14, 2018
The final table of nine players emerged from a field of 422 entries after two days of play in the $2,650 No Limit Hold’em event at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, and those players returned on Tuesday at 1 p.m. to play for the top prize and tournament title in front of the Poker Night in America television cameras. Alex Foxen claimed the repeat title after 12 hours of play and a lengthy heads-up battle.
That heads-up battle took place between two of the most talented poker professionals in the field who both hold more than $4 million in career earnings. Foxen was the defending champion in this event, but the final thing that stood between him and a successful title defense was Blair Hinkle.
That test proved to be a difficult one, but in the end Foxen prevailed. “It was pretty crazy, it was a really long heads-up match. I’m exhausted from that but it’s an amazing experience to get to go deep in this one again, and I managed to get the right cards in the end and win it,” said Foxen.
You could tell that Foxen had a lot of respect for his final opponent. “Obviously you’re always hoping for your opponent to make mistakes, but Blair did very little of that today. I was very, very impressed with his heads-up play, he was a really tough opponent. I was at his table all day yesterday, so we have been battling for a couple days now. It was cool to get heads up with him, and we had a really good match,” said Foxen. He continued, “I feel like everything is a little bit sweeter when it’s more difficult, so having someone like Blair who plays so well and it lasted so long it definitely feels a little bit sweeter.”
A little while after cards got into the air at the final table this afternoon Matthew Kuba scored a double up before Michael Esposito hit the rail in ninth place to kick off the eliminations, and then Matt O’Donnell (eighth place), Rick Alvarado (seventh place), and Matthew Kuba (sixth place) all busted within the next hour of play.
In what would become a theme at the final table, Foxen and Hinkle played many pots throughout the day with a lot of post-flop action. Meanwhile, Brandon Hall took fifth place a little before 4 p.m.
Four-handed play took place for close to two hours before Tom Nguyen fell in fourth place, and then it was only a matter of minutes before Jake Schwartz busted in third place. That set up the epic heads-up battle between Foxen and Hinkle, and the two players stacks were pretty evenly matched when the final kicked off.
Hinkle pulled away a little bit by the time the final two players took their first break heads up, but soon after they returned Foxen scored a double up to take back the lead. It was Hinkle who then doubled up twice to take back the chip lead after he saw his stack get down to just 20 big blinds at one point.
The two players continued to trade the lead back and forth for several hours until the length of the heads-up final was longer than the rest of the final table combined.
The final hand came a little bit after 11 p.m. Foxen called preflop on the button, and Hinkle moved all in. Foxen called to cover him so the final two remaining players revealed their cards.
Foxen won the hand, and the tournament to successfully defend his title. Foxen won the top prize of $208,452, and Hinkle took home $146,042 after a hard-fought heads-up final.
Congratulations to our repeat champion – Alex Foxen!
Final Table Results:
1st: Alex Foxen – $208,452 2nd: Blair Hinkle – $146,042 3rd: Jake Schwartz – $93,892 4th: Tom Nguyen – $62,936 5th: Brandon Hall – $48,404 6th: Matthew Kuba – $40,115 7th: Rick Alvarado – $33,668 8th: Matt O’Donnell – $27,242 9th: Michael Esposito – $20,846
2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida SHRPO Big 4 High Roller $25,500 No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry) $2,000,000 Guaranteed Entries: 123 Prize Pool: $3,136,500 August 13-14, 2018
The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Big 4 High Roller has been popular since its inception and this year was the biggest yet. The prize pool climbed over $3,000,000 and High Roller specialist Jake Schindler took home more than $800,000 after defeating Shaun Deeb for the title.
“It’s a combination of practice and luck,” Schindler said afterward. “I got good cards, made mostly right decisions and it worked out.”
The $25,500 buy-in tournament drew 123 entries to surpass the $2,000,000 guarantee and it paid out the last 16 spots. The tournament featured high-stakes players from around the world, multiple WSOP bracelet winners and WPT Champions Club members along with some of our local regulars.
They made it down to the final table in the early morning hours and the last eight returned on Tuesday to play it out for the title. Those players had combined earnings over $53 million for their career Deeb returned with the chip lead.
Former Seminole Hard Rock Poker Player of the Year Ory Hen made the final table after turning a $300 High Roller Step Satellite ticket into a final table appearance. He made it to seventh place and cashed out for $116,942 after taking a one-out bad beat at the hands of Omar Zazay.
Zazay came to the final table already owning a Big 4 title. He won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship in 2015, the first year we ran the Big 4 final tables. Zazay rode a hot streak down to fourth place when Schindler took him out.
Schindler and Deeb had to deal with a short-stacked but very dangerous Tom Marchese. He battled against the two big stacks but was unable to complete the comeback.
Deeb and Schindler exchanged the chip lead several times during the final table but Deeb was never able to get it back during heads-up action. Deeb had a chance to double back into the match but lost a race on the last hand.
Both have huge results in their past but this time around it was Deeb was second best. He took home $534,989 for his runner-up finish while Schindler earned $800,758 for the Big 4 High Roller title.
High Roller results:
1st: Jake Schindler – $800,758 2nd: Shaun Deeb – $534,989 3rd: Tom Marchese – $371,183 4th: Omar Zazay – $265,311 5th: Mark Fisher – $195,570 6th: Barry Hutter – $148,769 7th: Ory Hen – $116,942 8th: Paul Hofer – $95,110 9th: David Peters – $80,073 10th: Chris Hunichen – $80,073 11th: Toby Lewis – $69,926 12th: Nipun Java – $69,926 13th: Alan Schein – $63,407 14th: Ian O’Hara – $63,407 15th: Darren Elias – $59,778 16th: Ryan Riess – $59,778
2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida $1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry) $500,000 Guaranteed Entries: 640 Prize Pool: $640,000 August 13-14, 2018
After more than six hours of play Marc MacDonnell, a professional poker player, took down the Event 21 $1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em title. Event 21 boasted a field of 640 entries, besting last years mark, and easily surpassing the $500,000 guarantee.
The starting field contained the usual suspects like, Chance Kornuth, Marvin Rettenmaier, Phil Hui, and TK Miles all finishing in the money. Joe Elpaaya was the bubble boy when he ran his Ace Jack into Mike Newman’s Ace King. The final 80 players took home at least $1,824 for their efforts.
It was MacDonnell however who took home the biggest piece of the $640,000 prize pool with his first place finish. He earned $119,465 as well as the prestigious Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open trophy.
MacDonnell, who finished third in this very same event last year came into the final table with the second to smallest chip stack. Joey Couden, his heads up opponent had a large lead over the other seven players.
MacDonnell said he didn’t feel any pressure to best last years third place finish ($53,349) saying “It’s just nice to make a final table, I didn’t feel any pressure really”.
When asked about 2018’s final table versus 2017’s MacDonnell said “They were pretty similar, maybe one or two better players this year. When [Brian] Altman won last year he had all of the chips.. ”
First to be eliminated was Adam Zeltser ($15,923) when pocket nines fell to the Ace Five of Couden when Couden flopped an ace. The next to go was Maria Ho ($19,981), who got right back into her hosting duties when she she couldn’t win the flip with Ace King against Paul Balzano’s pocket nines.
Balzano took out the six place finisher, Dennis Rodriguez ($24,045) when Balzano spiked a king on the turn to defeat Rodriguez’s Ace three with King Queen. It was Balzano himself who was sent to the rail next when his Ace Nine couldn’t come from behind against Couden’s Ace Queen. Balzano took home ($29,933)
After briefly holding the chip lead, James Salmon moved all in with pocket sevens and got called by Michael Graffeo’s pocket tens. Graffeo wound up with a set of tens to eliminate Salmon in fourth place ($39,008) and take the chip lead three-handed.
The lead went back and for multiple times with Graffeo, MacDonnell, and Couden battling it out. At one point Couden said “Good job guys, regardless of what happens”. The counts were relatively even at the time looking like this:
Joey Couden – 4,800,000 (48 bb) Marc MacDonnell – 3,375,000 (34 bb) Michael Graffeo – 4,500,000 (45 bb)
It was Graffeo who eventually fell in third place ($53,939) after being chipped down by the other two. Graffeo moved his last ten blinds in with Jack Seven of Diamonds and got snapped called by MacDonnell’s pocket aces. The aces held and it was heads up with MacDonnell and Couden having very similar stacks.
It didn’t take long for MacDonnell to take the lead, it was soon 2-1 when this pivotal hand took place. Shortly after that the final hand occurred when Couden moved all in with Ace Five and quickly got called by MacDonnell’s Ace King. The king kicker held and MacDonnell became the $1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em Champion.
The Irish poker pro, hailing from Dublin, says he keeps making the trip over seas to play here the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino because “They look after us here, there’s good tournaments, good action, the cash games are good…” It was a great way for MacDonnell to close out the series.
Final Table Results:
1st: Marc MacDonnell – $119,465 + Trophy 2nd: Joey Couden – $83,750 3rd: Michael Graffeo – $53,939 4th: James Salmon – $39.008 5th: Paul Balzano– $29,933 6th: Dennis Rodriguez – $24,045 7th: Maria Ho – $19,981 8th: Adam Zeltser – $15,923