2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Championship ($2 Million Guarantee)
$3,500 No Limit Hold’em
Prize Pool: $2,432,000
November 25-30, 2016
Hollywood, FL – The premiere tournament on the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker (SHRP) Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open (RRPO) schedule was the $3,500 buy-in Championship. The tournament began on November 25 and played out over five days of action. In the end, it was Patrick Mahoney lifting the trophy as the newest SHRP champion. In addition to $564,227, Mahoney earned a $5,250 seat in next August’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship.
The series finale drew 760 entries over the two starting days to easily surpass the $2 million guarantee. They pushed the prize pool over $2.5 million with the last 72 players earning a piece of the money and the final six each securing six-figure paydays. The field was full of poker pros, champions, local regulars, and a few world champions. Two former WSOP Main Event champions were in the field in Ryan Riess and Joe McKeehen, and they were joined by reigning world champion Qui Nguyen.
Of those 760 starters, only 165 players were around for the start of Day 2. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Brian Hastings returned with the biggest stack but that was the end of the good news for him. He slid down the rankings as high roller regular Matt Berkey shot to the top. Berkey was the first over 1 million chips, but it was bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva who finished the day with the lead among the 48 survivors. Among those to make the money were two of poker’s power couples – Jason Mercier and Natasha Mercier and Chris Moorman and Katie Lindsay.
De Silva continued to build his stack castle as they played down from 18 to the final table of six as big names dropped out including Will “The Thrill “Failla, Matt Glantz, Ryan Dunn and Seminole Hard Rock Poker team member Jessica Dawley.
The six final table members had more than $5 million in combined career earnings with Matt Humphrey coming in with a huge lead. He was closely followed by De Silva as they played it out in front of the Poker Night in America cameras for a live stream and later television broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Bill Jennings was the shortest stack to start the final table. He found a spot to double up, but it wasn’t enough to propel him higher. He went out in sixth place and was soon followed by Mark Dube in fifth. Billy Pilossoph sat back and laddered up in the payouts until he was sent out in fourth place.
De Silva retook his big lead after a slow start from Humphrey. Patrick Mahoney pulled even, then ahead over a quick series of hands. De Silva’s sudden collapse was complete when he moved all-in with top pair against Mahoney’s rivered flush.
Mahoney began heads up play with a 2-to-1 lead over Humphrey and the match did not last long. Just a few hands into the duel, Humphrey was dealt ace-king of clubs and Mahoney was dealt pocket jacks. All of the chips went into the middle preflop, and a board full of blanks ended the tournament with Mahoney as the champion.
The champ is a 32-year-old professional poker player from Winona, Minnesota. He’s been playing the game full-time since graduating with a degree in Aviation Management.
“It’s kinda hard to differentiate when the transition actually happened,” he said of his profession.
This result is his largest on record so far, and it brings his total career tournament earnings to more than $1.3 million. Mahoney and De Silva are good friends, and the latter arrived to give Mahoney a big congratulatory hug during his winner’s interview.
“We’re real good friends,” Mahoney said, “but our approaches to the game are significantly different.”
The eventual winner almost didn’t it make it into the field for the Championship at all. Coming directly from another tournament abroad, Mahoney got a little tied up in customs in Fort Lauderdale, and he didn’t make it to the table until just before registration closed on Day 1B. He proceeded to double up with pocket kings on the very first hand of his day, though, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“It’s definitely one of the best places I go,” Mahoney said of the Seminole Hard Rock. “Maybe the best.”
The Championship was one of three events during the RRPO to boast a six-figure top prize. The other headliner, the $360 buy-in, $1 million guaranteed opener, drew more than 5,000 entries marking the largest poker tournament in Florida history. Eventual champion Rafael Reis turned his buy-in into more than $150,000. Joining Mahoney and Reis with a six-figure first-prize haul was Ben Tollerene who bested 21 entries in the $50,000 High Roller. Tollerene, who resides in Fort Worth, Texas, took in over $450,000 for his efforts.
Complete results from all RRPO primary events are available at SHRPO.com.
Championship final table results
1st: Patrick Mahoney – $564,227 + $5,250 SHRPO Seat
2nd: Matt Humphrey – $328,320
3rd: Upeshka De Silva – $200,640
4th: Billy Pilossoph – $165,376
5th: Mark Dube – $133,760
6th: Bill Jennings – $109,440
7th: Matthew Zarcadoolas – $87,552
8th: John Spadavecchia – $66,880
9th: Ari Engel – $46,208