Event 19: Ari Engel Wins Inaugural Heads-Up at SHRPO ($28,800)

2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood
Event #19: $1,650 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em
Total Entries: 64
Total Prizepool: $96,000

Ari Engel
Ari Engel

Ari Engel is the champion of Event 19 at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Engel emerged victorious from the 64-player bracket, winning the trophy and the top prize of $28,800 in a three-way deal.

The champ is a 32-year-old professional poker player who makes his home in Toronto, Ontario. His list of tournament results is an impressive one, littered with cashes all over the world and a total of more than $3.5 million in earnings. This victory is the third of his career in the heads-up format.

Engel’s path to victory included a first-round win against Raul Doutreleau, which set the stage for a Round of 32 match against WPT Champion Amir Babakhani. He handled Babakhani with relative ease, moving on to what would be a difficult encounter with November Niner Jerry Wong. Wong won the first match in the best-of-three, but Engel rattled off the next two to punch his ticket into the quarterfinals.

The final eight players returned today for Day 2, and Engel was matched up against John Dollinger for a spot in the semis. For the second consecutive round, Engel dropped the first match, so he needed to win two in a row once again. And he did so, thanks to a pair of tough spots for Dollinger. The second matche ended when both players flopped a straight, with Engel’s Broadway having the best of it. On the last hand of the third match, Engel flopped two pair with king-jack, and Dollinger put his tournament life on the line with an overpair of aces. The turn and river were both blank, and Engel was through to the final four.

His semifinal opponent was another WPT Champion — a two-time winner, in fact. Jonathan Little is an avid student and teacher of the game, and it took three tough matches for Engel to advance through him. As it turned out, it would be the last match for Engel in this event.

While the other semifinal match was still in progress, Engel dropped by the table and offered to split the money with whichever of the two won that match. Alex Foxen and Aaron Mermelstein both agreed, and they ended up chopping up their own match, as well.

Engel was already posing for photos with his new trophy as the other match finished up, adding yet another piece of hardware to his mantel.

1st: Ari Engel – $28,800 + trophy
2nd: Alex Foxen – $19,200
3rd: Aaron Mermelstein – $19,200
4th: Jonathan Little – $9,600
5th: George Lusby – $4,800
6th: Corey Dodd – $4,800
7th: Timothy Tenpas – $4,800
8th: John Dollinger – $4,800

Download Final Results (PDF)

Event 19: Ari Engel Wins Heads-Up Title in Three-Way Deal ($28,800)

$1,650 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em
Players Remaining: 3
Level 4: 150/300

Ari Engel
Ari Engel

Early in this heads-up match, finalist Ari Engel dropped by the table to offer Alex Foxen and Aaron Mermelstein a deal. He proposed that they forgo the best-of-three final, regardless of who his opponent would be, and chop the first- and second-place money evenly. Both potential opponents agreed to the deal, and Engel was declared the winner. All that was left was to decide with whom he’d be chopping.

In the Mermelstein/Foxen semifinal, Mermelstein had recovered from the early chip disadvantage to take a lead of his own, and he was eventually able to win the second game outright.

With the score tied at one game apiece, the two men decided to chop up their own shares of the remaining prize money and call it a night. Foxen officially gets credit for a runner-up finish, though he and Mermelstein each received the same payout.

Here’s the official results from the deal:
1st: Ari Engel – $28,800 + trophy
2nd: Alex Foxen – $19,200
3rd: Aaron Mermelstein – $19,200

A recap of Engel’s victory will be published shortly.


Event 19: Alex Foxen Out to Another Early Lead

$1,650 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em
Players Remaining: 3
Level 1: 50/100

On the turn of a 9d4s3cAs board, Aaron Mermelstein checked, Alex Foxen bet 875, and Mermelstein check-raised to 2,300. Foxen called.

The river was the 8d, and Mermelstein checked. Foxen bet 4,350, exactly half of what his opponent had left. Mermelstein spent a couple minutes in the tank, then surrendered his cards into the muck. Foxen won the pot, opening up a lead of nearly 2:1 in this second game.

Alex Foxen – 15,300
Aaron Mermelstein – 8,700

Event 19: Alex Foxen Wins Game #1

$1,650 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em
Players Remaining: 3
Level 2: 75/150

Alex Foxen raised from the button, and Aaron Mermelstein three-bet shoved for just over 5,000 in the big blind. Foxen called to put him at risk, and the news for Mermelstein was not good.

Foxen: 9s9h
Mermelstein: 8s8h

The board ran out Ts5h3d6hAd, and Foxen won the pot and the first game with his pair of nines.

The chips were quickly reset, and the second game in this best-of-three has begun with no break.