2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
Prize Pool: $640,000
August 13-14, 2018
After more than six hours of play Marc MacDonnell, a professional poker player, took down the Event 21 $1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em title. Event 21 boasted a field of 640 entries, besting last years mark, and easily surpassing the $500,000 guarantee.
The starting field contained the usual suspects like, Chance Kornuth, Marvin Rettenmaier, Phil Hui, and TK Miles all finishing in the money. Joe Elpaaya was the bubble boy when he ran his Ace Jack into Mike Newman’s Ace King. The final 80 players took home at least $1,824 for their efforts.
It was MacDonnell however who took home the biggest piece of the $640,000 prize pool with his first place finish. He earned $119,465 as well as the prestigious Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open trophy.
MacDonnell, who finished third in this very same event last year came into the final table with the second to smallest chip stack. Joey Couden, his heads up opponent had a large lead over the other seven players.
MacDonnell said he didn’t feel any pressure to best last years third place finish ($53,349) saying “It’s just nice to make a final table, I didn’t feel any pressure really”.
When asked about 2018’s final table versus 2017’s MacDonnell said “They were pretty similar, maybe one or two better players this year. When [Brian] Altman won last year he had all of the chips.. ”
First to be eliminated was Adam Zeltser ($15,923) when pocket nines fell to the Ace Five of Couden when Couden flopped an ace. The next to go was Maria Ho ($19,981), who got right back into her hosting duties when she she couldn’t win the flip with Ace King against Paul Balzano’s pocket nines.
Balzano took out the six place finisher, Dennis Rodriguez ($24,045) when Balzano spiked a king on the turn to defeat Rodriguez’s Ace three with King Queen. It was Balzano himself who was sent to the rail next when his Ace Nine couldn’t come from behind against Couden’s Ace Queen. Balzano took home ($29,933)
After briefly holding the chip lead, James Salmon moved all in with pocket sevens and got called by Michael Graffeo’s pocket tens. Graffeo wound up with a set of tens to eliminate Salmon in fourth place ($39,008) and take the chip lead three-handed.
The lead went back and for multiple times with Graffeo, MacDonnell, and Couden battling it out. At one point Couden said “Good job guys, regardless of what happens”. The counts were relatively even at the time looking like this:
Joey Couden – 4,800,000 (48 bb)
Marc MacDonnell – 3,375,000 (34 bb)
Michael Graffeo – 4,500,000 (45 bb)
It was Graffeo who eventually fell in third place ($53,939) after being chipped down by the other two. Graffeo moved his last ten blinds in with Jack Seven of Diamonds and got snapped called by MacDonnell’s pocket aces. The aces held and it was heads up with MacDonnell and Couden having very similar stacks.
It didn’t take long for MacDonnell to take the lead, it was soon 2-1 when this pivotal hand took place. Shortly after that the final hand occurred when Couden moved all in with Ace Five and quickly got called by MacDonnell’s Ace King. The king kicker held and MacDonnell became the $1,100 Big 4 No Limit Hold’em Champion.
The Irish poker pro, hailing from Dublin, says he keeps making the trip over seas to play here the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino because “They look after us here, there’s good tournaments, good action, the cash games are good…” It was a great way for MacDonnell to close out the series.
Final Table Results:
1st: Marc MacDonnell – $119,465 + Trophy
2nd: Joey Couden – $83,750
3rd: Michael Graffeo – $53,939
4th: James Salmon – $39.008
5th: Paul Balzano– $29,933
6th: Dennis Rodriguez – $24,045
7th: Maria Ho – $19,981
8th: Adam Zeltser – $15,923