2017 Seminole Hard Rock WSOP Circuit
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$580 No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
Prize Pool: $806,000
September 21-25, 2017
Hollywood, Florida — The first-ever World Series of Poker Circuit at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino kicked off in grand fashion Thursday with a $580 buy-in re-entry opener. The tournament boasted six starting flights over the course of three days with Day 2 kicking off Sunday. Ultimately, it was Miami Lakes resident Niovel Chirino Alvarez who bested the 1,612-entry field taking home $135,022 along with the tour’s token prize, a gold ring.
“This is just my hobby,” Alvarez said afterward. “I’m not a pro at all. I’m shaking because I didn’t even think I could win.”
The event featured two starting flights daily Thursday, Friday and Saturday and permitted unlimited re-entry throughout. The weekday action was modest to start, but Saturday’s play nearly doubled the field settling it in at the 1,612 tally. The $806,000 prize pool handily bested the $500,000 guarantee and paid each of the final 171 players a piece of it.
Five-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Kurt Jewell, former Seminole Hard Rock Poker Player of the Year David Prociak and tournament pro Brian Hastings were among the standouts to play the event. There was a huge local turnout, too, as another former POY, Ory Hen, Seminole Hard Rock Poker team members Stewart Newman and Sheddy Siddiqui, Paul Balzano, Nancy Birndbaum and Abbey Daniels were among those jockeying for gold jewelry.
Day 2 began Sunday at 1pm with 218 players remaining and only 171 finishing in the money. The bubble burst shortly thereafter sending the remaining players home with a guaranteed payday. Daren Stabinski (26th), Steven McKoy (29th), Daniels (42nd) and Seminole Hard Rock Tampa ambassador Wally Maddah (57th) were among those who finished in the money.
It was late in the day when then 10-handed final table was reached. Gil Aboodi — the eventual runner-up — lead the action. Day 2 played until just before 3am when only three players remained. Aboodi retained the lead while Alvarez was second and Scott Sanders third. The trio returned for an additional, unscheduled day of play Monday and it moved along at breakneck speed.
Sanders busted third just a couple minutes into the action care of chip leader Aboodi. Aboodi had a two-to-one advantage over Aboodi at that point, but doubled up Alvarez and the tables quickly turned. On the final hand, Aboodi got his stack in holding and was second best to Alvarez’s . He never caught up and Aboodi was eliminated in second place earning $83,751.
The win marked the first major tournament cash for Alvarez, a 41-year-old married father of two. He was born in Cuba and now resides here in Florida where he owns a trucking company.
2017 marks the first time for the Seminole Hard Rock and the WSOP to team up in a co-branded series. In addition to their hefty cash prizes, all players who cash during the series will earn points toward the Casino Championship. Following the final ring event, the top points earner will be awarded with a $10,000 entry in the season-ending Global Casino Championship. Joining them at the one-of-a-kind event will be the Main Event champion who also earns a seat in the event.
“I always come [to][the][Seminole][Hard][Rock],” Alvarez said. “I don’t play anywhere else. I like it here. It’s cool, the people are nice here, I get along with basically everyone.”
Event 1 final table results:
1st: Niovel Chirino Alvarez – $135,022 + Gold Ring
2nd: Gil Aboodi – $83,751
3rd: Scott Sanders – $62,255
4th: Nagui Yassa – $46,974
5th: John Magnetta – $35,843
6th: Jordan Meltzer – $27,565
7th: Ruslan Dykshteyn – $21,585
8th: Vytautas Semaska – $17,031
9th: Matyas Csiszar – $13,589