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.