2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship (Freeze-Out)
August 15-18th, 2015
Total Entries: 907
Total Prize Pool: $5,000,000
The 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship featured a new format for the biggest event on the schedule. It featured a $5,000,000 guaranteed prize pool but the freeze-out format limited all players to a single entry into the tournament. The marquee event drew 907 players to leave the prize pool at an even $5,000,000.
The first day of the tournament drew players from all walks of life including past champions, poker professionals, actors, and athletes. Blair Hinkle won this tournament in 2013 and he returned for a chance to earn a second victory. We also had defending champion Dan Colman enter the Championship looking to repeat his run from last year.
The big field included former WSOP Main Event champs Joe Cada and Jonathan Duhamel, 8-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel, along with local poker legends Jason Mercier and Michael Mizrachi.
Former NBA star Earl Barron and NFL Pro Bowler Richard Seymour also played in the tournament though neither could match their athletic success. The acting world was represented by Mekhi Pfifer, Omar Benson Miller, Jennifer Tilly, and Sasha Barrese.
The first day saw 303 of the starting 907 players advance to Day 2 where they quickly hit the money bubble. The last 150 players earned a piece of the $5,000,000 prize pool with the smallest payout being $7,500 and the winner picking up $1,000,000.
Day 3 had 43 players coming back for a long day of action. The schedule had them continue until the last nine players remained for final table. Among those starting Day 3 but falling short of the final table were former November Niner Joseph Cheong, current November Niner Neil Blumenfield, and last woman standing Karen Onheiser. The final table nine moved to the Hard Rock Live Arean on Day 4 play in front of the Poker Night in America cameras
Larry Moccia of Pembroke Pines, FL was an interesting story as the tournament moved further along. The local Seminole Hard Rock Poker regular was playing a cash game when he decided to play a $140 Step Satellite. Mocchia won a ticket in that tournament and turned into a $5,250 into the Championship.
Dan Colman continued to impress throughout Day 3 and he once again found himself returning to the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Championship final table. He was joined by Mocchia, WSOP bracelet winner Paul Volpe, and former leader Randy Pfeifer.
Volpe, Rick Alvarado, and Vladislav Mezheritsky quickly dropped at the final table before action slowed down. Mocchia’s feel good story ended in 4th place and our defending champion Colman was knocked out in 3rd by local poker dealer Brian Phillis.
The hand propelled Phillis to a big chip lead but he was unable to maintain. The two battled for more than 100 hands during the heads up battle before Zazay finally overcame Phillis. He picked up a cool $1,000,000 for the win while Phillis walked away with $575,000.
Zazay talked aobut his run through the tournament, facing off with one of the toughest poker players in the world in Dan Colman and the drawn out heads-up battle. “It was a really long journey – a four-day tournament and I was just trying to take stay focused and take it one step at a time. Getting down three-handed with Dan Colman was definitely a sticky situation. I had him on my right so I had a little edge on him. I was trying to do the best I could against him and not give him chips so he could use them against me. I picked my spots well. The heads-up was a lot going on. I know I really wanted this title so I tried my best to win. I think he had me at almost a 3 to 1 chip advantage. I just took it one hand at a time and slowly edged my way to the win. ”
Omar was thrilled with the victory and his road to poker success. “It’s an amazing feeling. This is very huge for me. It been a lot of hard work. I played a lot of poker and come up short lots of times and feel like I can do better so it’s good to accomplish a big title under my belt.”
Zazay was also very complimentary toward the Hard Rock and the Big Four set-up in Hard Rock Live. “It was amazing. It was a great set-up. The Hard Rock did a great job setting up a big event like this. It was a huge success. All the players are happy and everyone that played got their money’s worth and I hope they do it again. Congrats to the Hard Rock – they did an amazing job.”
Congratulations to our Main Event Champion – Omar Zazay!
Final Table Results:
1st: Omar Zazay (Richardson, TX) $1,000,000
2nd: Brian Phillis (Boynton Beach, FL) $575,000
3rd: Dan Colman (Holden, TX) $310,000
4th: Larry Moccia (Pembroke Pines, FL) $220,000
5th: Randy Pfeifer (Lancaster, NY) $180,000
6th: Joseph Couden (Blacklick, OH) $150,000
7th: Vladislav Mezheritsky (Aventura, FL) $125,000
8th: Paul Volpe (West Chester, PA) $100,000
9th: Rick Alvarado (Las Vegas, NV) $75,000