After the phenomenal success of last year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, which smashed its $10 million guarantee for the main event, Seminole officials hoped for a repeat despite increased competition around the world in the surrounding days this year.
But after a modest showing of 334 players in late August for Day 1A and just a slight increase to 443 entries on Day 1B, it was apparent there would be an overlay for the event. When the numbers were totaled, 1,499 entries meant Hard Rock was on the hook for $2.5M.
Hundreds of South Florida hopefuls looking for their first big score sat side-by-side with major tournament regulars brought to town by the Hard Rock’s first-class facilities and the big tourney cash. Among the returnees from last year was 2013 Ante Up Player of the Year and defending champion Blair Hinkle, made it to Day 3 before getting knocked out in 54th place by former November Niner Russell Thomas.
The night before the main event saw Charity Series of Poker founder Matt Stout kick things off with a charity event that benefitted Habitat for Humanity. The tourney attracted 105 entries and raised more than $15K. Hard Rock, which contributed an extra $15K, including a $5,300 buy-in for the main event and a custom-made guitar trophy, won by Nicolas Yunis of Palmetto Bay, Nev.
Big One For One Drop winner Dan Colman, who could be on the greatest tournament heater in poker history, won the title and $1.4 million, besting Mike Leah, who collected $1 million as runner-up. Former November Niner and Florida native John Dolan has a massive chip lead heading into Day 3, but his instincts in one hand at the final table cost him big as he finished fourth ($548K).
Colman isn’t the most popular poker player on the planet after making disparaging remarks about the game after his One Drop win. But to his credit, Colman played brilliantly once again in pushing his earnings for 2014 to more than $21 million. For more on the enigmatic Colman and the Hard Rock event, see our columns on Page 42-44.
All in all, the Seminole Hard Rock facility seemed pleased at the conclusion of this event, despite the costly shortfall. But maybe it was Shawn Cunix who had the most interesting comment about the overlay, which concerned many of the participants and thrilled others.
“I heard that the (chief operating officer) was an avid poker player and enjoys the game, so maybe he might be the type that might offer a $15 million guarantee next time. I’m stubborn like that, too, so it could be interesting,” he said.
The next series at Hard Rock will the Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open, scheduled Nov. 13-Dec. 3 with a $2 million guarantee.
WSOPC AT PBKC: Tristan Wade, the 29-year-old pro and South Florida native, captured the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Palm Beach Kennel Club in mid August. The bracelet-winner with $1.1 million in career earnings topped more than 300 players in the first WSOPC of the season, including fellow bracelet-winner David Diaz heads-up for the ring and $106,806.
“I’ve been waiting to win a tournament for a while,” Wade said. “It’s in my backyard, so I got to have the family come support me. Mom got off work early and they were staying up late last night rooting for me and following the updates. It’s really nice to have my family here and be close to home. It’s always fun (to win a tournament).”
ISLE OPEN: The Isle Open at Isle Pompano runs Oct. 8-28 with a $400K guarantee on Oct. 23 ($1,090). See the ad on Page 39 for details.
DANIA CLOSING: The casino and poker room are slated to close Oct. 15 for an expansion that should take nearly 14 months.
Though there’s always negative fallout for employees and players when a room simply closes its doors, the most sympathetic character could be poker room manager Chris Trabue, a respected poker guy for years in South Florida. Trabue, who was let go by Calder after orchestrating the move of its Studz Poker Room from the grandstand to the main casino in January (it closed this summer for good), is losing his job again. However, as he was administering the payout of a $22K bad-beat jackpot, he told me he felt no bitterness.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I have a lot of things I can do with the computer business, so I’ll be OK if I never return to the poker world.”
Trabue said the payout of the jackpot could hasten the closing of the cardroom, saying management was waiting for the jackpot situation to be resolved, leaving open the possibility that the poker room goes dark by the time you’re reading this.
— Email Dave at email@example.com.