The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa hosted its first World Poker Tour regional event with the Winter Poker Open, which ran Dec. 2-11, and the seven events each surpassed the guarantees. The $2,250 main event just about doubled its guarantee, securing a $490K prize pool as Dan Clemente, a local pro from Wesley Chapel, took home the title and $137K.
“I really wanted to make a statement to the tournament grinders around here and around the country that I am back on the grind and coming to a table near you soon,” said Clemente, who took the past year off from tournament poker to focus on other business ventures.
Clemente’s past scores include a win at the World Poker Open in Biloxi, Miss., for $65K and a third-place finish at the Venetian North American Poker Tour stop in Las Vegas for $309K. He’s also a regular at the $10-$20 no-limit hold’em game at the local Hard Rock.
Longtime pro and Florida resident Darryll “DFish” Fish finished runner-up in the main event for $80K.
“It felt good to play and win against an accomplished player like Fish,” said Clemente, who starting playing poker in 1994 as a Marine.
When asked about the most crucial hand of the main event, Clemente said: “The biggest hand for me was with around 14 people left. At 2,500-5,000, I opened with A-K to 12K. A tight, but recently frustrated, young player three-bet to around 110K and the button jammed all-in for 300K. I had 350K behind and I felt really strong that they both had a pair. I wanted to call here because of all the dead money, but with over a 300K stack, I was too much in control of the table to risk it on a flip. I ended up folding and the three-bettor showed down Q-Q while the all-in player showed 8-8. The board came out K-4-4-Q-x and I would’ve been seriously short if I had called, so I believe that was my most important hand in reaching the final table.”
Coming into the final table, Clemente had around 25 percent of the chips in play and he made good use of them. He knocked out almost every player and in the end his 4-4 held against Fish’s A-2.
Other champs from this series include Natasha Barbour from Tampa (Event 1), Ryan Franklin from Apollo Beach (Event 2), William McBride from Thonotosassa (Event 3), Ramses Rosa from Brandon (Event 4), John Cofhlin from Ft. Pierce (Event 5) and Christopher Hyden from St. Petersburg, who would win another WPT event at Derby Lane in St. Pete just a few days later.
— Garrett Roth is the Ante Up Ambassador for Central Florida and our Where to Play editor. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GarrettRoth.
WPT AT HARD ROCK TAMPA
Event 1 • $200 NLHE
Entries: 459 • Prize Pool: $80,325
WINNER: Natasha Barbour, $20,451*
Event 2 • $750 NLHE
Entries: 243 • Prize Pool: $167,670
WINNER: Ryan Franklin, $47,014
Event 3 • $200 NLHE
Entries: 198 • Prize Pool: $34,650
WINNER: William McBride, $10,325
Event 4 • $200 Omaha/8
Entries: 157 • Prize Pool: $27,475
WINNER: Ramses Rosa, $8,655*
Event 5 • $440 6-Max
Entries: 160 • Prize Pool: $64,000
WINNER: John Cofhlin, $20,160*
Event 6 • $200 NLHE
Entries: 394 • Prize Pool: $68,950
WINNER: Christopher Hyden, $17,906*
$2,250 Main Event
Entries: 245 • Prize Pool: $490,000
WINNER: Daniel Clemente, $137,396
* Denotes victory via chop; winners received a main-event seat.