Floridians and amateurs spent most of the month of March dominating the major tour stops at Jacksonville and Daytona.
It seems most of the time the final table of a big tournament is filled with pros and the occasional local looking to find a piece of the poker spotlight. At bestbet Jacksonville’s $3,500 WPT main event in March, Nabil “Doc” Hirezi went into the final six as chipleader.
The dentist with a passion for singing has been a regular at all of the bestbet properties for as long as they’ve been open, playing tournament poker for close to a decade. In the last day of the main, he sat alongside local cash-game aficionado Peter Le and they would be Jacksonville’s best hope for the first local champion.
The hurdles that they’d have to jump wouldn’t be easy. Pros Jordan Cristos and James Calderaro where looking to become the first players to win two WPT events this season. Calderaro and Hirezi would be the last men standing in the hunt for the $206K first-place prize. Calderaro is hardly a stranger to final tables; the Florida native finished second at bestbet Jacksonville’s televised WPT event in 2012 and in the HPT main event at Daytona in 2013.
But it would be a one-outer that would bring the win home for Hirezi. They were all-in preflop as Calderaro held A-K and Doc had pocket 10s. Calderaro flopped a king on a board with three hearts. The turn was another heart, leaving Doc with any heart to chop and only the 10S to win, and it came as Hirezi bested nearly 260 players to bring home Jacksonville’s first WPT trophy. In the series leading up to the event, there where notable wins by Jacksonville local pro Eddy Mrokzakowski, DBKC HPT final-table player Jeremiah Pierce and WSOP main event champ Greg Raymer.
DBKC: Hirezi wasn’t the only Jacksonville native to do well under the scorching lights of the final table. Over the past year, Dalton Mills has been making a name for himself all the way across the peninsula and he’d start 2014 by making a strong drive toward his first HPT main-event win. Out of the nine final-table players, the top three were all from Florida, continuing the pattern of dominance from locals. Dalton would fall short of his first major win, taking home almost $50K. It would be amateur Wes Holland who would pocket the $80,993 first-place prize. Holland is a pool builder from Altamonte Springs.
The three-handed battle between Mills, Holland and Saum Sharifi lasted 67 hands. Sharifi ultimately made his exit with A-3 against Mills’ Q-5. A queen came on the river to eliminate the Longwood, Fla., resident in third place for $33,750.
— Email Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.