Repeat! Randal Fernandez Defies the Odds by Defending His Title in the Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event

2019 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
Event 16
$300 Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event
Entries:  370
Prize Pool:  $15,000 + Prize Packages
August 7, 2019

Randal Fernandez - Winner
Two-Time Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Champion Randal Fernandez

When Randal Fernandez arrived at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to play in the Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event after winning it last year, he thought, “Maybe I could win it back-to-back.”

That thought likely goes thru the mind of every poker champion who returns to the same event the following year, but defending a title isn’t easy, especially in a charity event with a turbo structure. But Fernandez managed to pull it off, going back-to-back to repeat as champion.

“It was so crazy,” said Fernandez. “The levels were going by so quick, and I couldn’t get past 50K.” But the same hand that saved him from a short stack last year — 8x5x — brought him back from the brink this year.

“I found myself down to 15,000, and I just bounced back with the same five-eight that got me back in the tournament last year.” Fernandez was all in and made a flush with 8x5x suited to double up, and he carried that momentum to the final table, and ultimately, the winner’s circle.

The final three players made a deal to split the money more evenly, and for winning, Fernandez earned $3,250 in cash, plus a $5,250 seat into the SHRPO Championship, which begins on Friday. Of course Fernandez also wins another SHRPO trophy, and a custom-framed winner’s photo, courtesy of IMPDI.

“I have my picture frame from last year hanging in the living room by the TV,” said Fernandez. “So I guess I’m going to put this one on the other side.”

Fernandez is self-employed; he and his wife April own TightBunz.com, which sells women’s active wear. They have their own line of active wear, designed by April, but also sell other brands.

Of course, the Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event is primarily about the charity — the Conine Clubhouse, which is part of the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Money was raised not only from the tournament buy-ins, but also a silent auction and a live auction for a variety of different packages, including sports memorabilia and travel packages.

“It’s a great charity event,” said Fernandez. “I love playing it, and I love supporting the cause. You also get to meet a bunch of great people.”

Final Results:

1st:  Randal Fernandez  –  $3,250 + prize package
2nd: Haitham Kaki  –  $3,000 + prize package
3rd:  Chris Cote  –  $3,000 + prize package
4th:  Steve Iodice  –  $1,250 + prize package
5th:  James Scott  –  $950 + prize package
6th:  Ronald Benedetto  –  $850 + prize package
7th:  Daniel Genachte  –  $750 + prize package
8th:  Rob Lenkey  –  $700 + prize package
9th:  Robbie Kubusheski  –  $650 + prize package
10th:  Raul Cabrera  –  $600 + prize package

Randal Fernandez - Winner

Charity Event: Randal Fernandez Wins Back-to-Back SHRPO Charity Events ($3,250); Haitham Kaki Finishes 2nd ($3,000)

$300 Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event
Structure | Payouts
Level 23:  100,000/200,000 with a 200,000 ante
Players Remaining:  1 out of 370

Event 16 Winner Randal Fernandez and Jeff Conine
Charity Event Champion Randal Fernandez (left) and Jeff Conine

Haitham Kaki lost chips for a while, then doubled up his short stack with 3h2c against Randal Fernandez’s As3d — Kaki spiked a deuce on the turn, but Fernandez still had a big lead.

A short while later, Kaki got it all in for 350,000 with 5h3c, and he needed to improve to stay alive against Fernandez’s 10c9d.

The board came Kc9h8sQh4s, and Fernandez won the pot — and back-to-back SHRPO charity titles — with a flopped pair of nines.

Haitham Kaki finished as the runner-up, earning $3,000 and a two-night stay at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa and a $1,650 seat into the December Winter Poker Open.

Randal Fernandez won the $300 Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event, earning $3,250 and a $5,250 seat into the SHRPO Championship. Fernandez also receives a three-night stay at Hard Rock Vallarta, Mexico in a Hard Rock Deluxe Room, plus a SHRPO trophy and a custom-framed winner’s photo courtesy of IMPDI. Fernandez’s name will also be inscribed a second time on the Jeff Conine Clubhouse Trophy.

Congratulations to Randal Fernandez!

Final Results:

1st:  Randal Fernandez  –  $3,250 + prize package
2nd: Haitham Kaki  –  $3,000 + prize package
3rd:  Chris Cote  –  $3,000 + prize package
4th:  Steve Iodice  –  $1,250 + prize package
5th:  James Scott  –  $950 + prize package
6th:  Ronald Benedetto  –  $850 + prize package
7th:  Daniel Genachte  –  $750 + prize package
8th:  Rob Lenkey  –  $700 + prize package
9th:  Robbie Kubusheski  –  $650 + prize package
10th:  Raul Cabrera  –  $600 + prize package

Haitham Kaki - 2nd Place
Haitham Kaki – 2nd Place

Charity Event: Chris Cote – 3rd Place ($1,750 + prize package)

$300 Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event
Structure | Payouts
Level 22:  75,000/150,000 with a 150,000 ante
Players Remaining:  2 out of 370

Chris Cote
Chris Cote

The final three players agree to a deal where each of them will make $3,000 each. They would continue playing for the prize packages, and the winner would receive an extra $250.

Defending champion Randal Fernandez moved all in from the small blind, and Chris Cote called all in from the big blind for about 600,000 with 10s9h.

Fernandez turned over Jd8s, and Cote needed to improve to stay alive.

The board came Jh7c6c4hAs — Cote flopped a gutshot straight draw, but improved no further. Fernandez won the pot with a flopped pair of jacks to eliminate Cote in third place.

Chris Cote  –  Eliminated in 3rd Place  ($3,000 + prize package below)

Chris Cote - 3rd Place
Chris Cote – 3rd Place

Cote’s prize package includes an authentic electric guitar, deluxe accommodations for a two-night stay in the new Guitar Tower at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, dinner for two at Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, dinner for two at Kuro, a $200 gift card to Rock Spa, and assorted logo items.

Here are the approximate chip counts for the final two players:

Randal Fernandez  –  2,000,000  (13 bb)
Haitham Kaki  –  1,700,000  (11 bb)

Haitham Kaki vs. Randal Fernandez
Haitham Kaki (left) vs. Randal Fernandez

Charity Event: Steve Iodice – 4th Place ($1,250 + $1,700 seat)

$300 Jeff Conine Celebrity Charity Event
Structure | Payouts
Level 21:  75,000/125,000 with a 125,000 ante
Players Remaining:  3 out of 370

Steve Iodice
Steve Iodice

Steve Iodice was all in from the small blind for about 400,000 with AcJs, and he needed his hand to hold to stay alive against the Ad2s of Chris Cote in the big blind.

The board came Kh4c2hAs2d, and Cote pairs his deuce on the flop, turns two pair, and rivers a full house to win the pot and eliminate Iodice in fourth place.

Chris Cote  –  1,250,000  (10 bb)
Steve Iodice  –  Eliminated in 4th Place  ($1,250 + $1,700 seat in WSOP Circuit Main Event at Coconut Creek)

Steve Iodice - 4th Place
Steve Iodice – 4th Place