First Major Florida Poker Series Of 2023 Generates Millions In Prize Pools

Written By Steve Schult on January 30, 2023
Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood wrapped up its first major poker tournament series of the year.

Last week, the staff wrapped up the Lucky Hearts Poker Open. The first of their four major series featured a 14-day, 43-event schedule from Jan. 12 – Jan. 25.

Tournament buy-ins ranged between $150 and $25,000. The series’ staple was a $3,500 no-limit hold ’em main event.

With such a densely packed and diverse schedule, the series attracted both poker pros and amateurs from all over. The Seminole Tribe-owned casinos are among the most popular in all of Florida poker.

As a result, the 43 events combined for 16,320 entries and prize pools totaling $14.78 million. Based on turnout, this was the largest Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Seminole history.

Marius Gierse wins $605,000 and main event title

Austrian poker pro Marius Gierse earned the largest payday of the series with a victory in the $3,500 main event. He received credit for the win after getting the lion’s share of the prize pool in a four-way final table deal.

Gierse left with the trophy and $605,000 after topping a massive, 1,692-entry field. Brian Scott, Jacob Powers and Peter Mugar were also involved in the chop. They finished second, third and fourth, respectively.

Scott earned $555,078, Powers took home $500,000 and Mugar netted $498,177. Jerry Wong, a decorated high-stakes pro from South Florida finished ninth for $85,410.

The European made the trip to South Florida following a six-month hiatus from live poker tournaments. Before the Lucky Hearts Poker Open, Gierse’s last tournament entry was at the 2022 World Series of Poker.

Gierse’s success wasn’t limited to the main event. He played two events at Seminole Hard Rock and made a deep run in both. First, he finished fifth in the $25,000 high roller for $110,500. The following day, he entered the main event.

In just five days, Gierse cashed for $715,500.

“It’s been a long four days, but it feels pretty damn good,” Gierse told tournament reporters. “It was quite the ride.”

Holley and Isaia each win multiple trophies

Longtime poker pros John Holley and Alessio Isaia were the only multiple-trophy winners of the series.

Holley, a Florida native, earned titles in the $600 no-limit hold ’em turbo and the $600 seniors no-limit hold’em. He netted $13,760 for his turbo win and another $25,715 for his seniors title.

A week separated Holley’s pair of victories. On the other hand, Isaia won back-to-back events on consecutive days. First, the Italian pro won the $1,100 no-limit hold ’em for $55,835 on Jan. 16. Then, he won the $600 no-limit hold’em six-max for $20,592 on Jan. 17.

Familiar faces climb career leaderboards

With his two wins, Holley now has eight career Hard Rock trophies. He sits just one behind Raminder Singh for the lead.

The trophies are awarded for events on the primary schedule of any of the four major Seminole poker series. The Lucky Hearts Poker Open, Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open or the Rock n’ Roll Poker Open all count towards this leaderboard.

However, Holley wasn’t the only one making moves up the list. Yuval Bronshtein won the $600 Big O event for his eighth piece of Hard Rock hardware. And David Shmuel won the $400 Omaha Hi-Lo for the second consecutive year. It was his seventh trophy.

Here’s a look at the current career leaderboard:

Raminder Singh – 9
John Holley – 8
Michael Newman – 8
Yuval Bronshtein – 8
Brian Altman – 7
David Prociak – 7
David Shmuel – 7
Gabriel Ramos – 7

Shortly after the Lucky Hearts Poker Open wrapped up, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Tournament Director Jason Heidenthal released the schedule for the next opportunity to win a trophy.

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown will run 61 events from April 13 – May 2. Most of the names on that list will be in attendance for that series as well.

Complete Series Results

Event Field Size Winner Payout
$600 No-Limit Hold'em 4,535Scott Woodring $190,939*
$400 HORSE109Mark Hurst$7,640*
$150 Big Stack No-Limit Hold'em 320Joseph Burns$4,845*
$400 Deep Stack No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 34Javier Gomez $4,740
$400 Omaha Hi-Lo129 David Shmuel $12,025
$400 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty 183Gilles Dalco $9,170*
$1,100 Five-Card Pot-Limit Omaha 132Taylor Lipson$32,615
$400 No-Limit Hold'em 515Jeremy Becker$33,615
$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em 254Alessio Isaia$55,835
$600 Mixed Pot-Limit Omaha134Matt Bretzfield $14,963*
$200 No-Limit Hold'em Green Chip Bounty 248 Darin Kaplan $4,336*
$200 No-Limit Hold'em 2,325Dejan Petkovic $42,962*
$600 Big O 101 Yuval Bronshtein $13,405*
$400 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty 206 Michael McKuin $11,175
$600 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 78 John Holley $13,760
$400 No-Limit Hold'em Seniors Event 238Amir Baron$18,434
$600 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em 235Alessio Isaia$20,592*
$1,100 Six-Max Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 94 Zhen Cai $27,880
$2,200 No-Limit Hold'em 257 Aaron Flores $97,935*
$10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller 22Dylan Smith $91,960
$600 Pot-Limit Omaha 465William Kopp$47,595
$200 No-Limit Hold'em Green Chip Bounty 323Pierre Xavier-Laurent$4,608*
$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 126Sam Panzica$28,082*
$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em 332Ryan Hogan $66,790
$25,000 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller74 Aram Oganyan $480,175*
$150 No-Limit Hold'em 175 David Oshry$5,205
$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 92 Jorge Cuesta $28,360
$3,500 No-Limit Hold'em Championship 1,692Marius Gierse$605,000*
$600 HORSE 70 Steven Idels $11,131*
$400 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty 164 James Wiedenborner$10,025
$400 Big O 116Sue Sanders $11,130
$600 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 81Robert French $14,045
$400 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty 384 Stephen Thomas $12,382*
$1,700 No-Limit Hold'em Purple Chip Bounty 201Andrew Esposito $49,380
$1,100 Mixed Pot-Limit Omaha 87Renny Barrett$23,670*
$400 No-Limit Hold'em 917 Valerie Novak $52,030
$600 No-Limit Hold'em Seniors 193 John Holley $25,715
$5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 30 Benjamin Juhasz$64,125
$600 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo 72 Brandon Duvdivani $13,360
$400 Omaha Hi-Lo/Stud Hi-Lo Mix75 David Bach $8,460
$5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 89Brock Wilson $129,350
$1,100 Six-Max Pot-Limit Omaha 135Eddy Nedialkov$35,955
$300 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty 278Jonathan Ounjian$7,562*

*reflects payouts altered as the result of a final table deal/chop

Photo by Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood / Allen Rash
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Written by
Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

View all posts by Steve Schult