2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood
$5,250 SHRPO Championship
Prize Pool: $5,000,000
August 13-16, 2016
“It’s something that I reminded myself to burn into my brain, so on rough days I can think about this awesome day.”
That’s how Jason Koon felt about the final table of the SHRPO $5,250 Championship after defeating one of his closest friends heads-up to win $1 million.
The Championship event of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open is one of the biggest events of the poker year, something players from all over the world look forward to playing at the end of each summer. This year, the freeze-out event (no re-entries) attracted 847 players, including some of the biggest names in the poker world. The final 150 players each took home a piece of the guaranteed $5 million prize pool, though they all had their eyes on the first prize of $1 million.
Only the final nine would play on Tuesday as part of the Seminole Hard Rock’s The Big 4 — four tournament final tables playing simultaneously in the Hard Rock Live arena in front of TV cameras for Poker Night in America, and livestreamed around the world.
Koon began the day third in chips at a tough final table, followed by his close friend Seth Davies, who started the day fourth in chips. They were hoping to make it heads-up against each other for the title, and that’s exactly what happened. Said Koon, “[Seth] and I were laughing about the opportunity, and the next thing you know, we’re sitting across the table from each other with the trophy sitting in between us, so it’s a really surreal moment.”
The two former roommates have known each other for more than five years, and their friendship extends beyond poker. According to runner-up Davies, “Jason is very much a mentor to me in poker, and in life. […] I’ve learned so much from him, just about how to grow as a person and as a poker player.” Davies has apparently learned well, because he won a WPT title back in May and won SHRPO Event 17 ($1,100 Six-Max NLHE) just last week.
But this final table belonged to Koon, who took a big lead when his pocket kings held against Paul Balzano’s pocket queens to knock out Balzano in seventh place. That hand catapulted Koon to more than 10 million in chips, and he held onto the chip lead all the way to victory.
“I feel fantastic. I mean, it’s a great result, it’s a lot of money, and I got to play heads-up with my buddy … It’s a special moment.”
Final table results:
1st: Jason Koon – $1,000,000
2nd: Seth Davies – $575,000
3rd: Tim Burt – $310,000
4th: Roman Valerstein – $220,000
5th: Tom Midena – $180,000
6th: Joe Serock – $150,000
7th: Paul Balzano – $125,000
8th: Ryan Fair – $100,000
9th: Zo Karim – $75,000