In January, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood director of poker marketing Tony Burns announced he was leaving his role.
The Indiana native said that after seven years as an integral piece of the poker department at the flagship property of the Seminole Tribe, he was leaving his post. Burns served as Hollywood’s poker tournament director from 2015-2019. Then, he took the director of poker marketing position for all of the tribe’s Florida poker endeavors.
“I had the privilege of learning first hand about the Tribe’s culture/past from my late boss and friend Larry Frank,” tweeted Burns. “I worked under two other great industry leaders, including William Mason and David Hoenemeyer.”
Towards the end of his statement, Burns teased the next step in his poker career. He revealed that move last week.
Burns partners with one of poker’s most influential ambassadors
Last May, Chris Moneymaker, a Poker Hall of Famer credited with igniting the 2003 poker boom, announced he was launching the Moneymaker Tour.
In a social media post, Burns said he was hired as his Executive Manager of the tour and will help grow the brand.
“After working in baseball for 12 years and leaving in 2005, I always said if I found another job in an industry that I loved, I’d never leave that industry again. Well, I’m doing just that,” explained Burns in a heartfelt tweet.
Burns will play a vital role in helping grow the Moneymaker Tour and brand. From merchandise to tournament field sizes, Burns will help grow all aspects of the new tournament series.
Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event for $2.5 million. He wasn’t a professional poker player by any means. Moneymaker was an accountant by trade and received the $10,000 buy-in after winning an online satellite tournament for $86.
He navigated the high-stakes event filled with some of the game’s best players and beat poker pro Sammy Farha heads-up for the title. As a result, the game saw a gigantic increase in popularity.
Those in the poker industry called it “The Moneymaker Effect.” The Tennessee native is writing another chapter 20 years later with Burns playing a large role in it.
From baseball to climbing the ranks in the poker industry
Burns began his professional career working in professional baseball. He started dealing bar poker events in 2003 as a part-time job. Three years later, he began dealing on local cruise ships before getting his first land-based job at Isle Casino in Pompano Beach in 2008.
After eight years at the property now known as Harrah’s Pompano Beach, he was named Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood’s poker tournament director. Near the end of 2019, Burns was promoted from Tournament Director to Director of Poker Marketing for Seminole Gaming.
“I had admired their tournaments and wanted to be a part of that someday,” said Burns. “I guess when you put things out into the universe, they sometimes come to be.”
Playing a hand in building record-breaking tournament series in Florida
The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood held its first-ever large-scale tournament series with its 2011 Winter Poker Open. It featured 10 events and a $2,200 Main Event that attracted just 152 entries. The series came slightly more than a year after the Sunshine State changed its poker laws to allow traditional no-limit hold’em cash games.
A few months later, the World Poker Tour took a chance on Florida’s poker industry by hosting a massive spring schedule called the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
This featured 34 events and a $10,000 main event that attracted 433 entries.
Over the next 12 years, the Seminole Hard Rock increased the number of major tournament series at their properties. And those series continued to see attendance increase yearly, repeatedly breaking records. There are currently four major series each year that players will build their schedules around to attend.
Burns oversaw much of this growth.
One of the last major Seminole stops on Burns’ watch was in November 2022. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Open featured 44 events culminating with a $3,500 WPT-branded main event. The prelim schedule included both no-limit hold’em and mixed game tournaments. The main event attracted 1,541 entries for an almost $5 million prize pool.
But Burns helped make Florida poker history in August of 2022. The $400 no-limit hold ’em opening event of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open broke the record for Florida’s largest poker tournament with 7,703 entries. The same event from 2021 held the previous record with 6,196 entries.
Burns is moving to a new part of the industry. But he clearly left his mark on the Florida poker world.