Posts Tagged ‘Hard’

2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1A: Massive First Day Crowd Promises for Huge Field

 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1A: Massive First Day Crowd Promises for Huge Field

On Friday in the cavernous tournament arena at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, Day 1A of the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown took place. The massive outpouring of players for the first day of action promises that there will be a huge field for the tournament and that the guaranteed prize pool of $ 3 million will be shattered.

With the $ 3 million guaranteed prize pool, that meant that the $ 3500 buy in tournament had to rack up roughly 895 players (taking out the juice) for the Seminole Indians not to be on the hook for the difference. To help reach that mark, there were two Day Ones scheduled and players could re-enter the tournament as many times as they liked up until the start of Level 9. From the start, however, it seemed the players were amped for the event, regardless of what the guarantee was.

When the players came together for the “shuffle up and deal” call on Friday morning, nearly 200 players were already in their seats. The tables in the new Seminole Hard Rock tournament arena rapidly filled from that point, reaching 387 entries by the start of Level 3 and passing the 500 mark (504) to start Level 5. By the time the end of late registration for Day 1A reached a close, 646 entries were in the books, essentially guaranteeing that the Seminoles wouldn’t be reaching in their pockets for any overlay for the tournament by Saturday night.  

With such a large field on Day 1A, you might have thought that it was a softer field. Nothing was further from the truth as, from the start of the day, such notable names as former WPT champions Joe Ebanks, Darren Elias and Jonathan Little were on the felt, joined by Cliff Josephy, Blake Bohn, Neil Blumenfield and the defending champion of this tournament, Tony Sinishtaj. As the day wore on, they were joined by such figures as former World Champion Joseph McKeehen, WPT champions Tony Dunst and Olivier Busquet, Joseph Cheong and Shankar Pillai.

With the players from Day 1A knowing they still had a chance to come back on Day 1B to try to build a stack, play was rather active. Halfway through the day, six players had amassed stacks of more than 100K chips (after starting with 30K) and that number only went up as the evening hours began. By the dinner break, eight members of the field were counted over the magical 100K mark, with Robert Transue over 200K (204,300). By the end of the night, however, there was a new “sheriff” in town, Uri Kadosh, who had assumed the lead.

1. Uri Kadosh, 245,500
2. Robert Transue, 239,500
3. Nguyet Dao, 237,300
4. Paul Snead, 220,000
5. Matt Glantz, 191,500
6. Joseph McKeehen, 187,700
7. John Gordon, 187,500
8. Zachary Smiley, 170,400
9. Brian Hastings, 166,400
10. Joseph Gotlieb, 164,900

Lurking under the Top Ten are such notable names as Scott Clements (158,300 chips), Art Papazyan (156,200), Curt Kohlberg (142,600) and Jeff Gross (142,500). Of the 646 entries received on Day 1A, 227 players will come back for action on Sunday.

When Day 1B begins bright and early at 11AM on Saturday morning, expect a stampede of players to come to the tournament arena. It is likely that the opening bell for Day 1B will have enough players to crack the guarantee and the numbers should soar past 1000 players by the time registration closes. It isn’t out of question to believe that the final numbers will be bigger than last year’s field, which received 1207 entries by the time registration was closed. If it were to do this, the prize pool would easily be over $ 3.25 million and make for another successful stop for the WPT and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

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Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

 Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

On Monday, Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) announced that it has entered into a five-yar agreement with Hard Rock International to be the company’s online gambling provider for its Hard Rock Atlantic City property, set to open this summer. The two companies had signed a Letter of Intent in late October, though at the time, GiG did not make it public that its partner was, in fact, Hard Rock International.

Gaming Innovation Group was founded in 2008 and has offices in six cities: Malta, Marbella, Gibraltar, Oslo, Kristiansand, and Copenhagen. It owns seven business-to-consumer online gambling and sports betting brands, focusing on European markets. That is, until now. The venture with Hard Rock will be GiG’s first foray into the young United States regulated online gambling market.

GiG explained what it will provide in Monday’s press release:

The agreement will see GiG furnish Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage their operations. GiG has communicated ambitions to expand its platform services, focusing on larger clients by utilizing platform scalability. The agreement is a breakthrough for GiG’s platform services as it marks the first agreement with a major global brand and land based casino chain. GiG will also supply Hard Rock with its new front-end casino service, GiG Magic.

“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock’s inspiring and innovative plans,” said Robin Reed, CEO of GiG. “This agreement confirms the attractiveness of the GiG platform and the ability to support major operators in the industry. By adding a New Jersey license, we will move into our third regulated market, positioning GiG towards an important and growing iGaming market.”

Added SPV of Online Gaming at Hard Rock, Kresimir Spajic, “Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space. We are confident that, together with GiG, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October 2016. Things were a mess leading up to the closure (aren’t they usually?) as Carl Icahn, the largest debtholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts took control of the casino when the company came out of bankruptcy in February 2016. In the months that followed, he refused to invest $ 100 million into the casino that he promised, holding out for tax breaks from Atlantic City and New Jersey. He got concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union, causing its members to lose pension and health benefits, but when the union later tried to negotiate to get their benefits back, Icahn wouldn’t budge. The workers went on strike and the Taj eventually closed, Icahn blaming the union.

Hard Rock International acquired the Trump Taj Mahal in late March 2017. It has plowed $ 500 million into the property, converting it to its Hard Rock brand and plans to re-open this summer. The online gambling products are expected to also launch this year, though GiG did not specify if this would happen when the casino opens its doors.

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Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room – The Next Big Florida Poker Destination?

 Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room – The Next Big Florida Poker Destination?

Ever since the state legislature removed the limits imposed on its poker rooms, the poker industry in Florida has exploded. Those previous rules limited what stakes could be played for and limited how much could be on the table. In 2009, however, the legislature “uncapped” the poker rooms to allow them to play for pretty much any stakes they wanted. The result was a gold rush to the Sunshine State by poker players of all ilk.

Along with the major tournament circuits like the World Poker Tour (who now conducts their final three events in the state) and the World Series of Poker Circuit, expansion of poker rooms not only in tables but in ACTUAL number of rooms has been the norm. As of 2017, there are 24 poker rooms in the state, some associated with thoroughbred horse racing tracks, some in the Seminole Indian casinos and a couple (like bestbet Jacksonville) that stand alone while offering simulcast wagering on the ponies. In 2016, these rooms generated $ 147 million in revenues (a 231% increase over 2006 revenues); by comparison, the poker rooms in Nevada generated $ 117 million in revenues for the year.

If people are flocking to your business, it is only natural to want to update those surroundings. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa isn’t as acclaimed as its brethren in Hollywood, FL, but it is making a name for itself as a poker destination. First came a massive renovation that saw the poker room move away from the casino floor into a special area of the casino. Those renovations were completed in January and they have made a great difference in the potential future success of the room.

Walking into the room on a Friday night around 7PM, I was expecting about half the 46 tables around the room to be in action. Imagine my surprise when every table – even the two tables in the “High Roller” lounge – was full of action. Sure, there was a tournament going on – a $ 200 buy-in event with a $ 10,000 prize pool guaranteed that eventually fielded around 70 entries – but there was no other explanation for the room to be as packed as it was. Walking to the board to pick a game, I saw why the tables were packed.

The Hard Rock Tampa spreads a list of games, with Texas Hold’em (limit and no limit) as the most prevalent game but Omaha has a strong presence. If there were to be a call for some Stud games, I got the impression that they would spread that, too, IF there were enough people calling for it. There was also a wide array of stakes, from the $ 1/$ 2 for No Limit Hold’em to $ 2/$ 2 Pot Limit Omaha, a $ 2/$ 5 spread game (Hold’em) all the way up to what looked like a $ 30/$ 60 game (this was going on in the separate “High Roller” room). Having a game for everyone’s bankroll is key to bringing in the players, a fact not missed by the Hard Rock Tampa poker room staff.

Everything about the Hard Rock Tampa poker room was top notch. From the chairs at the table (plush and comfortable) to the amenities around the room, you could certainly tell that the Seminole Indian tribe spared no cost in improving its offerings. And it isn’t like they’ve jammed a bunch of tables into a room and put everyone elbow to elbow. The Hard Rock Tampa poker room has a full-service bar, a snack bar (burgers, sandwiches, and other offerings) and 40 HDTVs arranged around the room. Waitress service is quick and there’s even massage service for the players grinding away on the felt.

The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa has hosted some WPT DeepStacks events in the past, but they are deserving of a higher profile tournament schedule. Perhaps a WSOP Circuit roster of tournaments or maybe even a full-fledged WPT Main Tour stop (and where the hell are the smaller tours like the Heartland Poker Tour and the CardPlayer Poker Tour?) would be well-served to come to the poker room for a spell. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is a must-play stop for players who come to Florida; with the wide array of games and stakes, the plush surroundings, and its ease of access (Tampa International Airport is nearby), the poker world is really missing something special.

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Martin Kozlov Wins 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship

 Martin Kozlov Wins 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship

It looked like it was going to be a long final table at the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship (SHRPO) Tuesday as even though Aaron Mermelstein had a comfortable chip lead, almost everyone at the table had a fairly deep stack. And with nine players beginning the last day of play, there was a chance it could go on for a while.

And for a while it did. Only one player was knocked out in each of the first four hour and a half-long levels; by the time Martin Kozlov collected all the chips to win three-quarters of a million dollars, the final table had spanned 13 hours.

The SHRPO was also organized in quite a unique way, adding more emphasis to how slow the pace of the Championship final table really was. The tournament festival had what it called the “Big 4” events: the $ 1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry event, the $ 5,250 Championship Event, the $ 2,650 Freeze Out, and the $ 25,500 High Roller Re-entry event. Though the other three events began before the Championship, they were all scheduled in such a way so as to have all of their final tables play out in the same room on Tuesday.

Joe Keuther, the short stack at the Championship final table and the first one to be eliminated, was actually at two final tables at the same time, so while he was likely disappointed to finish ninth, he was able to just saunter over to the $ 1,100 No-Limit Hold’em final table and keep going (he finished eighth there).

Kozlov commented on the four final table arrangement and the pace of his table in his post-game interview with SHRPO officials, saying:

They had The Big 4, and after two or three hours all the tables of the other three were down to four or five players, and it took us six hours to lose two players. It was super slow, and you just had to play it one hand at a time. The structure was so good you could afford to take some beats, you could afford to lose some pots. Patience was the most important thing I guess.

He needed that patience, too, as he found himself very short stacked with five players remaining, holding barely more than 10 big blinds.

“The thing that affects my mental state the most is if I’m getting downward momentum, if I’m getting upward momentum it just kind of clears my mind to focus on the strategy,” Kozlov said afterward. “So when things are going right I’m thinking more clearly about what to do strategy-wise, if things are going bad I’m just steaming.”

“Five handed I didn’t have many chips at all, and I was a bit tilted on break. I was talking to my wife, and I was like, ‘What am I going to do now. There’s not much left, I’m going to have to win a couple of all ins.’ And then I came back and won every all in, and now I’ve won the tournament.”

What was that about a chip and chair again?

Kozlov entered heads-up play against Dylan Drazen with a 6 million chip lead, 16.325 million to 10.325 million. He never fell behind during the one-on-one match, though Drazen did pull within less than 1.5 million. Interestingly, it was when Drazen was at his closest that the whole thing ended.

Kozlov raised to 600,000 pre-flop and Drazen called. On the flop of K-Q-8, Drazen checked and then called Kozlov’s 400,000 chip bet. It was the same action on the turn when a 4 was dealt, this time for 2.6 million chips. And then again, when a 2 landed on the river, Drazen called, Kozlov moved all-in, and then Drazen called all-in. Kozlov revealed pocket Kings for flopped top set, while Drazen had just J-8 for third pair, almost a bluff call.

The win put Kozlov well over $ 2 million in career live earnings, increasing his total to $ 2,680,977.

2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship – Final Table Results

1. Martin Kozlov – $ 754,083
2. Dylan Drazen – $ 528,322
3. Matt Berkey – $ 341,618
4. Yi Chi Li – $ 252,481
5. Michael Aron – $ 191,437
6. Aaron Mermelstein – $ 152,547
7. Adam Levy – $ 126,305
8. Luke Brererton – $ 100,408
9. Joe Kuether – $ 75,413

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2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Aaron Mermelstein in Command

 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Aaron Mermelstein in Command

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event is one of the few “major” live poker tournaments on the calendar not to be associated with a larger tour like the World Poker Tour, PokerStars Championship, or World Series of Poker. Yesterday was a busy day for the SHRPO, as the 266 players who made it through Day 1 were whittled to just 30 by the end of Day 2, crossing the money bubble in the process (“crossing”?). Aaron Mermelstein leads with 2.706 million chips, the only player above the 2 million chip mark.

Mermelstein’s biggest hand of the day and the one that really gave him his upwards momentum, came during Level 19 with 45 players remaining. Pre-flop, he raised to 27,000, only to see Ashton Griffin three-bet to 70,000. After the rest of the table folded, Mermelstein called to bring on a flop of 2-9-T. The action went check-check and a King was dealt on the turn. Mermelstein checked again, Griffin bet 115,000 chips, but then Mermelstein check-raised to 265,000, a bet which Griffin called. With a 6 on the river, Mermelstein bet 400,000 chips, more than what Griffin had left in his stack. Griffin made the call for his remaining 290,000 chips and turned over pocket tens for a flopped set. Mermelstein, though, had 8-7 suited for a rivered straight. Griffin was out of the tournament in 45th place, while Mermelstein grew his chip stack to 1.8 million.

Aaron Mermelstein has just over $ 2 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, according to TheHendonMob.com. Most of his cashes are in the four to mid-five figure range, though his largest is $ 712,305, which he achieved by winning a $ 3,500 No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2015 Borgata Winter Poker Open. He has a couple recent cashes in major events, including a 426th place finish in the World Series of Poker Main Event and a 39th place finish in the World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event.

One interesting player left with chips is Joe Kuether, who made the final table of the $ 1,100 event at the SHRPO. Normally, that is just cool, seeing someone make deep runs in two events, but in this case, it could pose a problem for him (a good one). The final table of the $ 1,100 event has not been run yet – it will take place on Tuesday. So, if he makes it far enough in the SHRPO Main Event, Kuether might end up getting some exercise running back and forth between tournaments.

The plan for Monday is to play down to the nine-handed final table. Everyone beginning Monday’s action is already guaranteed at least $ 19,531, with the last player to be eliminated Monday afternoon or evening receiving $ 61,303.

2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Aaron Mermelstein – 2,706,000
2. Adam Levy – 1,960,000
3. Yi Chi Li – 1,816,000
4. Matt Berkey – 1,795,000
5. Samuel Bernabeu – 1,285,000
6. Odie Dardon – 1,154,000
7. David Sands – 1,044,000
8. Glenn Becker – 1,029,000
9. Michael Aron – 1,000,000
10. Diana Shirey – 923,000

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