Mukul Pahuja Earns $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Title In Heads-Up Deal

2017 Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino 
Hollywood, FL
Event 10

$2,500 No-Limit Hold’em 
Entries: 150 
Prizepool: $341,250
January 22-23, 2017 

Mukul Pahuja takes the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em trophy in heads-up chop

When Mukul Pahuja was getting his winner’s photo taken just after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday morning, he was adamant that he wanted the grey sweatshirt he wore throughout the day to be somewhat visible in the photo.

Pahuja won the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em in a heads-up deal with Ryan Rogers. Pahuja took home $79,544 in the deal along with the trophy.  For Pahuja, he attributes some of his run good on the second day of this two-day event to Aaron Massey’s lucky sweater.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” said Pahuja. “I’m on my way here in the car a few minutes late. I text both Zo [Karim] and my wife the same thing. ‘Do you guys see my grey sweatshirt?’ They both say yes. Zo says he is going to put it on my chair for me when I get there and I’m super curious to see which one of them is right.”

When Pahuja arrived at his seat, the grey sweatshirt that Karim had left for him turned out to be Aaron Massey’s grey sweatshirt. Pahuja’s sweatshirt was at home with Mrs. Pahuja, but he decided to stay warm by using Massey’s shirt throughout the day.

“This is like an extra small. I was like Chris Farley in a fat man’s suit all day playing this tournament,” said the . “But then I went from like seven big blinds at one point to like 37 in one orbit. I told Aaron at that point that he’s got to wear it tomorrow.”

Massey is the short stack at the final table of the 2017 Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event. But if the sweatshirt brings him the same luck that it brought Pahuja, he’ll end up in okay shape by the day’s end.

Pahuja was the short stack at the final table with seven players remaining, but went on a tear to end up with the chip lead when a heads-up deal was struck.

“I got really lucky and had premium hands that held up time and time again,” said Pahuja. “I had aces, kings, jacks, and queens all within the last hour of the tournament and that’s when you want to get those hands and have it hold up.”

Pahuja doubled through Paul Balzano with aces against ace-queen and never looked back.

“It was just a super cooler,” said Pahuja about the hand. “And then I just made hands from there.”

Pahuja emerged victorious at a final table that featured some quality poker talent. Along with Balzano, who finished fourth, Jake Bazeley, Faraz Jaka, Robert Kuhn, and Krzysztof Stybaniewicz were also at the final table.

Pahuja is a seasoned professional with a loaded poker resume, but the win is a little sweeter for him since he was able to come out on top against some other talented players.

“I’ve run unbelievable for a while now in kind of big field main events,” said Pahuja. “Those are where you want to run good too because of what you can win, but just as a professional desire, you want to beat tougher players.

“In a bigger buy-in postlim, you get smaller, tougher fields, and I haven’t had much success in theses kinds of fields. So it does feel good to get something like this under my belt.”

Since Pahuja won the title in a deal, there was no last hand. Pahuja chose to get his photo taken with the 7c2c because this is the first tournament he won since his son was born on July 2 of last year.

“I had [a][win] about a year ago this time,” said Pahuja. “So he was with us cause my wife on the rail, but he wasn’t with us. So this is the first one there.”

Pahuja is originally from New York, but for the better part of a decade, he’s been based in South Florida with his wife and his children.

Getting to play at his home casino gave him some advantages that he wouldn’t have if he were on the road.

“The comfort stuff helps for sure, but even more is the comfort you get from playing with the same players,” said Pahuja. “As a tournament player, you have to travel a lot and you don’t always know the locals.

“When you get to lay at your home base, you know the traveling pros, but you also know the locals. So it’s a huge advantage to kind of not be caught off guard as much as the other really good pros who are coming in from out of town.”

Here are the  results:

PlaceFirst NameLast NamePrize Money

*Indicates a heads-up deal

Event 10: Deal Reached; Mukul Pahuja Wins!

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Upcoming Level 23: 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante
Players Remaining: 2 of 150
Average Stack: 1,500,000 (75 bb)

After a few minutes of discussion, Seminole Hard Rock Poker team member Mukul Pahuja and Ryan Rogers agreed to a deal. Here were the chip counts and the agreed upon numbers:

Mukul Pahuja – 1,578,000 (79 bb) – $79,544
Ryan Rogers – 1,423,000 (71 bb) – $77,429

We’ll have a recap of the event later tonight.

Mukul Pahuja (left)
Ryan Rogers (left)

Event 10: Jake Bazeley – 3rd Place ($34,125)

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 22: 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 2 of 150

                                                                                  Jake Bazeley

On the last hand of the level, Jake Bazeley raised to 35,000 from the button, Mukul Pahuja three-bet to 100,000 from the small blind, Bazeley four-bet shoved for about 670,000, and Pahuja called.

Bazeley: AhJc
Pahuja: JdJh

The board came down 10h3d2c8h10h, no help to Bazeley, ending his tournament in third place.

Jake Bazeley – Eliminated in 3rd Place ($34,125)

Event 10: Paul Balzano – 4th Place ($27,300)

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 22: 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 3 of 150
Average Stack: 1,000,000 (62 bb)

Paul Balzano

Ryan Rogers raised to 33,000 from the button, Paul Balzano three-bet shoved from the small blind for 134,000, and Rogers called with AcKc, leading Balzano’s As3d.

The board rolled out KhJd10sKd10c, giving Rogers kings full of tens to eliminate Balzano in fourth place.

Ryan Rogers – 1,420,000 (88 bb)
Paul Balzano – Eliminated in 4th Place ($27,300)

Event 10: Faraz Jaka – 5th Place ($20,475)

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 21: 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 4 of 150
Average Stack: 750,000 (62 bb)

In a battle of Seminole Hard Rock Poker team members, Faraz Jaka (pictured, right) raised from the cutoff and Mukul Pahuja called from the big blind.

The flop fell 6d4h3d and Pahuja checked to Jaka who continued for 30,000. Pahuja check-raised all in with the bigger stack and Jaka called all in for about 140,000.

Jaka: KcKh
Pahuja: Ad5c

The 8c turn kept Jaka ahead, but the river was the Ac to give Pahuja a pair of aces to eliminate Jaka in fifth place.

Mukul Pahuja – 1,080,000 (91 bb)
Faraz Jaka – Eliminated in 5th Place ($20,475)

Event 10: More For Pahuja

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 21: 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 5 of 150
Average Stack: 600,000 (50 bb)

Mukul Pahuja limped from the small blind, Ryan Rogers raised to 31,000 from the big blind, and Pahuja called.

The flop fell 7h4h3h and Pahuja check-called a bet from Rogers to see the Qc turn, which both players checked. The river was the 6s and Pahuja bet 135,000. Rogers called.

Pahuja tabled Kh9h for a flush, Rogers mucked, and Pahuja won the pot.

Mukul Pahuja – 900,000 (75 bb)
Ryan Rogers – 1,030,000 (85 bb)

Event 10: Mukul Pahuja Doubles Through Paul Balzano Again

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 21: 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 5 of 150
Average Stack: 600,000 (50 bb)

Paul Balzano raised to 25,000 from the cutoff, Mukul Pahuja three-bet to 75,000 from the small blind, Balzano four-bet shoved with the bigger stack, and Pahuja called all in for 344,000.

Balzano: Kh9d
Pahuja: QdQs

The board came down 10d10h4sJd3h, safe for Pahuja to double up through Balzano again.

Mukul Pahuja – 710,000 (59 bb)
Paul Balzano – 320,000 (26 bb)

Event 10: Mukul Pahuja Doubles Through Paul Balzano

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 21: 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 5 of 150
Average Stack: 600,000 (50 bb)

Paul Balzano raised to 26,000 from under the gun, Mukul Pahuja reraised all in from the button for 168,000, and Balzano called with AdQh. Pahuja, though, tabled AsAh for a commanding lead.

The board rolled out 7h6c4h5dQd, safe for Pahuja to double up again.

“Well that was a good orbit,” said Pahuja.

Mukul Pahuja – 364,000 (30 bb)
Paul Balzano – 460,000 (38 bb)

Event 10: Mukul Pahuja Doubles Through Jake Bazeley

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Single Re-Entry)
Level 21: 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante
Players Remaining: 5 of 150
Average Stack: 600,000 (50 bb)

Jake Bazeley raised to effectively 70,000 from the small blind and Mukul Pahuja called all in from the big blind.

Bazeley: 8h5h
Pahuja: Ah7h

The board came down As7d4hJh4d, giving Pahuja aces and sevens to double up.

Mukul Pahuja – 150,000 (12 bb)
Jake Bazeley – 995,000 (83 bb)