Michael Casson Rides a Late Surge to Victory to Win $280,000

2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
Event 1
$600 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry Per Flight)
$500,000 Guaranteed
Entries:  3,902
Prize Pool:  $2,048,550
April 15-19, 2021

Michael Casson
Event 1 Champion Michael Casson

It’s a great sign for a major tournament series when the first event more than quadruples its guarantee. Event 1 ($600 Deep Stack NLH) had a $500,000 guarantee, but the massive field of 3,902 entries created a total prizepool worth more than $2 million.

The event took five days from start to finish, and at the end of it all, Michael Casson had a huge 4.5-to-1 chip lead over Andrew Heckman when they made a heads-up deal, giving Casson the victory.

“It feels amazing,” said Casson. “I came down here from Massachusetts for only one thing, and that was the trophy. And I got it. It feels great.”

Runner-up Heckman started the final day with a substantial chip lead with 15 players remaining, while Casson didn’t make his surge until late.

When the final table got down to the final six players, the action slowed as they played for two-and-a-half hours before the next elimination. During that time, it was Shai Arbel who had the big chip lead.

But shortly after Aleksandr Denisov was eliminated in sixth place, Casson picked the best time to go on a hot streak.

“I came in, and I dominated all of them,” said Casson.

First Casson doubled thru chipleader Arbel, getting it all in preflop with pocket tens against Arbel’s pocket nines. Casson flopped a set and rivered a full house to double up, creating a three-way tie for the lead between Casson, Heckman, and Arbel.

Arbel’s struggles with the second-best hand continued a little while later, when he got it all in preflop with AhKd, only to run into Casson’s KhKc. Casson flopped a set of kings to take a massive chip lead and knock Arbel down to less than a single big blind. (Two hands later, Arbel was eliminated in fifth place.)

Shane Raikes was knocked out in fourth shortly after that, and a few minutes later Casson flopped a flush to Evan Sandberg’s top pair. They got it all in at that point, and Casson took out Sandberg in third place.

A couple of players at the final table were resistant to making any deals, but once Casson and Heckman reached heads-up, they quickly agreed to terms. As chipleader, Casson was awarded the title and the trophy, along with $280,000.

Casson was thrilled to earn the victory, which bookended the pandemic for him. One of the last things Casson did before the lockdowns hit was chop a big tournament heads-up in Massachusetts to earn $80,000, which had been the biggest score of his career by far — until this one.

Now that he has won his first trophy here, we can expect to see more of Casson here at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.

“I love Florida,” said Casson, “and I love this casino.”


Final Table Results:

1st:  Michael Casson  –  $280,000* + Trophy
2nd:  Andrew Heckman  –  $242,085*
3rd:  Evan Sandberg  –  $158,400
4th:  Shane Raikes  –  $122,700
5th:  Shai Arbel  –  $92,250
6th:  Aleksandr Denisov  –  $67,700
7th:  Jose Montes  –  $49,060
8th:  Jake Schwartz  –  $35,350

* Indicates results of a heads-up deal.

Event 1: Michael Casson Wins in a Heads-Up Deal with Andrew Heckman

$600 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry Per Flight)
$500,000 Guaranteed | Structure | Payouts
Level 37:  300,000/600,000 with a 600,000 ante
Players Remaining:  2 of 3,902

Michael Casson
Michael Casson – Event 1 Champion

After the elimination of Evan Sandberg in third place, Michael Casson and Andrew Heckman quickly agreed to a deal for the remaining prizepool. These were the chip counts:

Michael Casson  –  64,200,000  (107 bb)
Andrew Heckman  –  13,800,000  (23 bb)

As chipleader, Casson was declared the winner, and in addition to his prize money, he would also receive the trophy and the title.

The final table payouts are listed below, and stay tuned for a recap, which will be posted later tonight.

Andrew Heckman
Andrew Heckman

1st:  Michael Casson  –  $280,000 + Trophy
2nd:  Andrew Heckman  –  $242,085
3rd:  Evan Sandberg  –  $158,400
4th:  Shane Raikes  –  $122,700
5th:  Shai Arbel  –  $92,250
6th:  Aleksandr Denisov  –  $67,700
7th:  Jose Montes  –  $49,060
8th:  Jake Schwartz  –  $35,350

Event 1: Evan Sandberg – 3rd Place ($158,400)

$600 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry Per Flight)
$500,000 Guaranteed | Structure | Payouts
Level 37:  300,000/600,000 with a 600,000 ante
Players Remaining:  2 of 3,902

Evan Sandberg
Evan Sandberg

With the board showing 10s8s3s9d on the turn, Evan Sandberg checked the small blind, chipleader Michael Casson bet 3,500,000 from the big blind, and Sandberg called.

The river card was the Ac, Sandberg checked, Casson moved all in, and Sandberg went into the tank for a very, very long time.

It was a big spot, and the other two players let Sandberg take his time, and he eventually called with 10c2h for a flopped pair of tens.

But Casson excitedly turned over Js4s for a flopped jack-high flush to win the pot, eliminating Sandberg in third place.

Evan Sandberg  –  Eliminated in 3rd Place  ($158,400)

These were the chip counts for the final two players after the hand:

Michael Casson  –  64,200,000  (107 bb)
Andrew Heckman  –  13,800,000  (23 bb)

Sandberg had been resistant to any talk of a deal throughout the final table, but once he was eliminated, Casson and Heckman immediately began discussing a deal.

Event 1: Shane Raikes – 4th Place ($122,700)

$600 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry Per Flight)
$500,000 Guaranteed | Structure | Payouts
Level 37:  300,000/600,000 with a 600,000 ante
Players Remaining:  3 of 3,902

Shane Raikes
Shane Raikes

With the board showing 6c5d4dJdKs on the river and about 3.8 million already in the pot, Andrew Heckman moved all in from the small blind, and Evan Sandberg went into the tank from the big blind.

Eventually, Sandberg called all in for 5,500,000, and Heckman showed a ten-high bluff — 10h8h. Sandberg turned over Kc4h to win the pot with two pair and double up in chips.

Evan Sandberg  –  14,800,000  (25 bb)
Andrew Heckman  –  12,200,000  (20 bb)

A few minutes later, Shane Raikes got his short stack all in against Evan Sandberg.

Raikes had Jd6d against Sandberg’s AcKd, and the final board came Jc7c3c5s2c — Raikes paired his jack on the flop, but Sandberg rivered a club flush. Sandberg won the pot, eliminating Raikes in fourth place.

Evan Sandberg  –  18,500,000  (31 bb)
Shane Raikes  –  Eliminated in 4th Place  ($122,700)

With three players remaining, the average chip stack is about 26.0 million (43 big blinds), and the remaining players are all guaranteed at least $158,400 each.

Event 1: Shai Arbel – 5th Place ($92,250)

$600 Deep Stack NLH (Single Re-Entry Per Flight)
$500,000 Guaranteed | Structure | Payouts
Level 37:  300,000/600,000 with a 600,000 ante
Players Remaining:  4 of 3,902

Shai Arbel
Shai Arbel

There was a massive preflop all-in situation between two of the chipleaders with nearly identical stacks.

Michael Casson was all in under the gun for 22.3 million with KhKc, and he was barely covered by Shai Arbel, who was in the small blind with AhKd.

The board came AcKs4d3c2h, and Casson flopped a set of kings to win the pot and double up into a dominating chip lead, knocking Arbel all the way down to less than a single big blind.

Michael Casson  –  45,800,000  (76 bb)
Shai Arbel  –  400,000  (<1 bb)

Two hands later, Arbel called all in under the gun for 400,000 (less than the 600K big blind), Casson called 600,000 from the button, and Andrew Heckman called 600,000 from the big blind.

Heckman and Casson checked all the way down on a board of Jh9h8d6dJd, and then all three players showed their cards.

Michael Casson:  AdJs  (trip jacks)
Andrew Heckman:  As10d  (ace high)
Shai Arbel:  Kc6s  (pair of sixes)

Casson won the pot with his trip jacks to eliminate Arbel in fifth place.

Michael Casson  –  47,000,000  (78 bb)
Shai Arbel  –  Eliminated in 5th Place  ($92,250)

With four players remaining, the average chip stack is about 19.5 million (33 big blinds), and the remaining players are all guaranteed at least $122,700 each.