James Gunter Returns From Tournament Hiatus With a Victory in $360 HORSE

2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open 
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 
Hollywood, Florida
Event #3
$360 Buy-In H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)

Entries: 88
Prize Pool: $26,400 
August 3, 2018 

James Gunter Captures HORSE title

James Gunter hasn’t played tournament poker in over a decade. The extended hiatus from tournament action ended on Friday afternoon at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood when the 38-year-old hopped in the $360 HORSE.

He returned to the proverbial ring with a vengeance, besting the 88-entry field and taking home $8,514 and his first Hard Rock trophy.

“I haven’t played many tournaments in the last 10 or 12 years,” said Gunter after his victory. “I’ve been playing mainly pot-limit Omaha up in Milwaukee. I just moved back to Florida. I just moved back down here in April.”

Gunter was born and raised in Plant City, located about 20 miles east of Tampa. He cut his teeth on the felt in Tampa before relocating to a colder climate, where he found himself playing more PLO cash games than anything else.

With most of his recent experience playing PLO, Gunter wasn’t even planning on taking a shot at this event. It took a little convincing from a buddy.

“My friend talked me into playing it,” said Gunter. “He ended up putting me in it. I didn’t even buy into it. He put me into it.”

Gunter’s friend made the right decision and now has a piece of the first place prize money coming his way.

Earning the trophy and $8,514 wasn’t an easy task. Gunter squared off with three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner ‘Miami’ John Cernuto.

Cernuto started off with a slight chip lead, but with the limits rising and the stacks getting shallower, Gunter’s heater at the start of heads-up play, sealed the deal.

“I actually won seven hold’em hands in a row,” said Gunter about the heads-up match. “That’s how I got so far ahead.”

After running away in hold’em, Gunter finished the job in Omaha hi-lo, when he rivered a full house to bust Cernuto in second.

Cernuto earned $5,148 for his runner-up finish in what was his 483rd career cash. He is just two cashes behind Men Nguyen, who sits at the top of the all-time list.

Pete Walsworth made his second consecutive final table of the series. He won the $360 Omaha hi-lo on Thursday night and almost took down back-to-back events. He finished fourth for $2,165.

As for the rest of the series, Gunter doesn’t have anything set in stone. But with a win under his belt, he might be taking a shot in the near future.

“I like PLO, so I may play the 8-or-better tomorrow,” said Gunter. “We’ll see what happens from there.”

With 88 entries in the field, the top 11 spots finished in the money. Here are a look at the results:

1st: James Gunter – $8,514
2nd: John Cernuto – $5,148
3rd: Michael Soroka – $3,201
4th: Pete Walsworth – $2,165
5th: Jeff Green – $1,650
6th: Christopher Hannon – $1,320
7th: Jacobo Fernandez – $1,096
8th: David May – $924
9th: Dale Phillips – $851
10th: Reinaldo Trutschel – $792
11th: David Brown – $739

Event 3: James Gunter Wins ($8,514), John Cernuto Eliminated in 2nd ($5,148)

$360 H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 24: 30,000/60,000 Limits
Players Remaining: 1 of 88

James Gunter

Omaha Hi-Lo 

John Cernuto raised on the button and James Gunter called out of the big blind. They both checked a flop of Tc4c4h and the Ks came on the turn.

Gunter bet and Cernuto called. The river was the 3c and Gunter bet again, putting Cernuto all in. Cernuto called.

Gunter showed 4s3s9c2s, good for a full house and won the pot against Cernuto’s AhKhJd6s.

Gunter took home $8,514 for his win and Cernuto left with $5,148 for his runner-up finish.

A complete recap will be published later tonight.

James Gunter – $360 HORSE Champion
John Cernuto – Eliminated 

John Cernuto

Event 3: Mike Soroka – 3rd Place ($3,201)

$360 H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 24: 30,000/60,000 Limits
Players Remaining: 2 of 88

Mike Soroka

Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo

John Cernuto: [x][x] / As6d4c6h / [x]
Mike Soroka: [x][x] / 8d3cAhJc / [x]

John Cernuto and Mike Soroka went heads-up to fourth street. Cernuto took the lead with ace-high and bet. Soroka called.

On fifth, Soroka took the betting lead with a better ace-high and led out. Cernuto called. They got the last of the money in on sixth street when Cernuto paired his sixes.

Soroka showed 8s7s in the hole, giving him a pair of eights, while Cernuto made a six-low to go with his pair, tabling 5s3h.

“You’re freerolling me,” said Soroka.

“I know,” said Cernuto. “I’ll let you know really quick.”

Cernuto squeezed his river card and tabled the 7c, giving him a straight, eliminating Soroka in third place for $3,201.

Cernuto takes a slight chip lead into heads-up play against James Gunter.

John Cernuto – 600,000
Mike Soroka – Eliminated 

Event 3: Mike Soroka Staying Alive

$360 H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 23: 25,000/50,000 Limits
Players Remaining: 3 of 88

Seven-Card Stud

Mike Soroka has been the short stack with just a couple of bets for most of the level. In back-to-back hands against James Gunter, he got all in on fourth street with a pair of fives against a lot of overcards.

Gunter failed to improve either time and neither did Soroka. He doubled up twice with unimproved fives and now has a few more bets to work with.

Mike Soroka – 240,000
James Gunter – 440,000

Event 3: James Gunter Moves Back Into the Lead

$360 H.O.R.S.E. (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 23: 25,000/50,000 Limits
Players Remaining: 3 of 88

Omaha Hi-Lo 

After a couple of Omaha hi-lo hands that went James Gunter’s way, he took over the chip lead.

On the river with the board reading AdTs8d4s5c, Gunter scooped the pot with an eight-high straight and six-low against John Cernuto’s aces up and a live three.

The next pot, Gunter got to the river on a board of 9s8s6h5s8c against Cernuto. Both players checked the river and Gunter dragged the whole thing with KxKxJxJx.

James Gunter – 540,000
John Cernuto – 365,000