Each November, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood runs the Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open, a two-plus-week series culminating with a $3,500 buy-in World Poker Tour Main Event. This year’s series was the biggest of its kind.
Tourney boasts whopping $13M in prize pools
While Florida online poker is still prohibited, live poker has exploded in the Sunshine State. The poker rooms at two Seminole-owned casinos in Florida, including its flagship Hollywood location, are some of the most popular poker halls in the country.
In total, 44 preliminary events at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open produced 16,284 entries. Those events had a combined $5.25 million in guarantees, which they smashed by generating nearly $13.5 million in total prize pools.
The Main Event, however, did not set a record. Its 1,541 entries produced a prize pool just below $5 million, more than doubling the $2 million guarantee. But it fell just shy of last year’s 1,566-entry total.
When all was said and done, Britain’s Andrew Wilson came out on top, claiming the top prize of $796,200 for his performance. Wilson bested a stacked final table, including multiple-time WPT champions Brian Altman and Chad Eveslage and reigning RRPO champ Gediminas Uselis.
Uselis falls just short of historic repeat performance
After four full days at the felt, 2021 RRPO champion Uselis was one of six players in contention, giving him a chance at winning two of the seven largest WPT Main Events in history. He entered the day fifth in chips but still had a respectable 42 big blinds to start play.
His quest, however, lasted only a dozen hands. He four-bet with ace-ten and ran into Wilson’s pocket kings. Short stack Robel Andemichael busted on the fifth hand of the day, though, so Uselis climbed one more rung on the pay ladder before making his way from the bright lights of the live-streamed final table.
Four hands later, Altman and Josh Kay, who made his second Seminole Hard Rock WPT Main Event final table of the year, went to battle after the board brought a queen-high straight on the river. Altman eventually called all-in, holding a king for a higher straight, but Kay had ace-king for the ace-high straight.
Eveslage bowed out roughly 90 minutes later, ending his opportunity to win his second WPT title of the year after taking down the $10,000 WPT Five Diamond last month in Las Vegas for over $1 million.
Kay puts Wilson to the test
After entering the final table with roughly half the chips in play, Wilson knocked out everybody but Altman on his way to heads-up play versus Kay.
He took a 3-to-1 chip lead into the match and ultimately grew it to a 10-to-1 advantage. Then, Kay survived an all-in to chop and stay alive, following it up with two doubles in short succession.
Kay’s surge continued, and he ultimately overtook the chip lead for a short moment. But Wilson came right back and won a huge pot when he picked off a bluff from Kay with a set of nines on the river. He eventually finished off his formidable opponent in a four-bet pot with pocket kings.
Wilson comes out on top to join WPT Champions Club
Wilson’s win puts him into the WPT Champions Club, with his name being etched among the greats on the Mike Sexton Champions Cup. He also earns a seat at the $10,400 WPT Championship, held next month at Wynn Las Vegas.
After the tournament, Wilson talked to the WPT live updates team.
“I’ve had a lot of consistent scores, but it’s mainly been online. In the live realm, I’ve started to do OK. It’s something that you always picture yourself doing. Maybe one day you can do it. It kind of feels like a pipe dream. So when it happens, it is quite surreal.”
One of those scores came in August 2020 in an international WSOP online event, when he went heads up against none other than Uselis. Wilson lost the battle, taking $169,128 and missing out on a WSOP bracelet.
This time, Wilson culled Uselis early in the day and rode the momentum to victory.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open Main Event Final Table Results
Plenty more pros claim titles during the series
Notable players dominated the series from beginning to end, including A.J. Kelsall, Scott Baumstein, Raminder Singh, Eric Afriat, Duff Charette, Sergio Aido, Dom Mosley and Frank Lagodich. Singh’s win was his ninth in an SHRPO trophy event, the most all-time.
Afriat won two events for the series, as did John Holley and Michael Newman. Afriat and Holley took down tournaments on back-to-back days, while Newman’s brought his career number of titles to eight, second only to Singh.
Peter Hsu won the largest event of the series, the opening-weekend $400 kickoff, which drew 6,134 entries and a prize pool greater than $2 million. He earned $191,223 for his efforts.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open Full Series Results
|1||$400 Multi-Flight||Peter Hsu||$191,223|
|2||$600 Seniors||Wilmer Chivara||$16,031|
|3||$600 Big O||Chris Kostoulas||$7,418|
|4||$200 Bounty||Jesus Figueroa||$4,313|
|5||$600 H.O.R.S.E.||A.J. Kelsall||$13,625|
|6||$1,100 5-Card PLO||Robert Lupo||$24,148|
|7||$150 Big Stack||Joseph Diaz||$6,935|
|8||$600 Turbo||Matt Bretzfield||$5,828|
|9||$600 O8||Sal Pipitone||$16,900|
|10||$600 Bounty||Dan Chlimper||$15,425|
|11||$600 PLO8||Long Nguyen||$18,065|
|12||$400 NLH||Scott Baumstein||$27,965|
|13||$1,100 6-Max NLH||Glen Cressman||$46,170|
|14||$600 PLO||John Holley||$30,191|
|15||$600 Turbo||Raminder Singh||$7,897|
|16||$400 OE||John Holley||$8,950|
|17||$200 Big Stack||Chris Lewis||$32,400|
|18||$400 Turbo||Michael Newman||$7,136|
|19||$400 6-Max NLH||Larry Elliott||$7,965|
|20||$1,100 Shootout||Colin Robinson||$22,135|
|21||$1,700 Bounty PLO||David Moreno||$26,020|
|22||$400 Turbo||Matt Vinke||$7,095|
|23||$400 Bounty PLO||David Goodis||$9,450|
|24||$200 Bounty||Christopher Corrales||$5,695|
|25||$150 Holiday DS||Igor Tolstov||$7,816|
|26||$3,500 WPT RRPO Championship||Andrew Wilson||$796,200|
|27||$400 Bounty||Daniyal Gheba||$9,550|
|28||$600 Mixed PLO||Floyd Scott||$10,090|
|29||$400 Ladies||Lisa Levy||$5,870|
|30||$150 Big Stack||Sebastian Espinoza||$4,052|
|31||$400 Bounty||Alexander Perez||$12,806|
|32||$10K PLO||Elliott Kampen||$121,600|
|33||$1,700 Bounty||Eric Afriat||$46,515|
|34||$600 NLH||Duff Charette||$7,6075|
|35||$1,100 Turbo||Matthew Davenport||$18,870|
|36||$1,100 NLH||Milen Stefanov||$3,3640|
|37||$25K High Roller||Sergio Aido||$500,000|
|38||$400 H.O.R.S.E.||David Shmuel||$7,471|
|39||$5,000 PLO||Dominique Mosley||$61,170|
|40||$150 Big Stack||Alexander Morgovsky||$4,112|
|41||$400 Seniors||Eric Afriat||$9,110|
|42||$5,000 NLH||Frank Lagodich||$13,3241|
|43||$1,100 6-Max PLO||Rafael Rodriguez||$28,895|
|44||$400 Bounty||Michael Newman||$6,437|