2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$360 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Prize Pool: $26,100
April 10, 2018
Matt Kaplan has been playing hi-lo games for as long as he can remember. He used the knowledge he picked up as a child and used that knowledge to take down the $360 pot-limit Omaha hi-lo event on Tuesday night at the Hard Rock.
Kaplan defeated Sheila O’Connor heads-up to finish off an 87-entry field and take home $8,416. Despite having decades of poker experience under his belt, Kaplan spends a good chunk of his time in cash games and this is his first recorded tournament win.
“I’ve been playing poker since I was born,” said the New York native after his win. “And I’ve played on and off for a living.”
During his childhood growing up in New York, he learned the game from his father. It sparked an interest in the game that never waned.
“When I was real young, my dad, every Wendesday night had a hi-lo game in my house,” said Kaplan. “I would literally sit on his lap and learn how to play. Ace-two-three-four-six was the nuts, not a wheel. I learned how to play declare hi-low when I real little.”
After learning the fundamentals, it was off to the races for Kaplan.
“Ever since then, I’ve always played,” said the 45-year-old. “I played Omaha at Foxwoods for a long time. It’s one of my favorite games.”
During his time in New York, Kaplan spent time playing both professionally and semi-professionally. When he wasn’t playing in New York, he was managing restaurants. He moved down to South Florida three years ago to get away from New York and ended up pouring his energy back into poker.
Now, he’s back playing poker as his sole source of income.
“I moved down here to get away from New York,” said Kaplan. “I was there for like 40 years…. I came down here expecting to work and play, but the games are pretty soft. It’s been good.”
Aside from wanting to get out of the cold and under the sun, the poker boom hurt the New York poker games. Having played for so long, Kaplan saw the difference in the games and the ability to beat the games in New York before and after Moneymaker’s victory.
“The New York poker scene really changed because the underground games, the owners started taking big rakes and it became tough to beat the game,” said Kaplan. “You have to drive to Atlantic City or Foxwoods. It was really annoying. I started working for a long time and then started getting back into it again.”
Kaplan came into the final table with the chip lead and seemingly never let up. He went heads-up with O’Connor with a chip lead and finished her off fairly quickly.
“That’s basically what happened,” said Kaplan when asked if he just steamrolled the final table. “I did get hit with the deck a little bit. Had a lot of aces today, but I played solid the best I could.”
With an 87-entry field, the top 11 spots finished in the money. Here is a look at the results:
1st: Matt Kaplan – $8,416
2nd: Sheila O’Connor – $5,090
3rd: Frank Argano – $3,165
4th: Mitchell Smith – $2,140
5th: Stephen Allen – $1,631
6th: Ralph Broderick – $1,305
7th: Joseph Orsino – $1,083
8th: Claudangelo Beaudouin – $914
9th: David Mclure – $842
10th: Sean Remz – $783
11th: Jeffrey Higgins – $731