Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Series Crushes Attendance Projections

Written By Steve Schult on April 14, 2022 - Last Updated on May 27, 2022
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown drew massive fields and tons of poker talent down to South Florida as the 50-event series wrapped up in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Over the course of nearly three weeks, there wasn’t a single tournament that fell short of a prize pool guarantee.

In fact, when registration closed for some of the larger guarantees, the amount doubled or even tripled. For example, the $600 no-limit hold ’em event that carried a $1 million guaranteed prize pool ended up with 4,259 entries and more than $2.2 million up for grabs.

The entire series guaranteed a combined $7.45 million in prize pools. But after everything was said and done, the total prize pool for the series topped $20.8 million.

The series culminated with a $3,500 World Poker Tour-branded main event. The tournament attracted 2,010 entries, which was the second-largest field in WPT history. It was behind only last year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which drew a field of 2,489.

But the series officially concluded a shade after 5 a.m., when Gene Hughes won the $200 no-limit hold ’em single-day bounty event in a seven-way deal for $6,034.

Darren Elias searches for fifth WPT title at Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown final table

The series is technically over since there is no more poker tournaments left to be played at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. But the WPT main event hasn’t concluded yet.

Instead of playing down to a winner, the field was trimmed to its final six players before pausing the tournament for about a month. Those lucky six will head to Las Vegas in May to play to a winner at the HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor.

The action in Las Vegas will take place on May 25 and will be filmed for a television production. It has the potential to be a historic final table as Darren Elias heads to Sin City with the chip lead.

The New Jersey native already holds the record for most WPT titles with four to his name. But a win next month would extend his record and put some distance between him and the six players who are tied for second with three.

When play resumes in Las Vegas, blinds will be 150,000-300,000 with a 300,000 big blind ante. Here is a look at the chip counts of the final six players according to their seat number:

  1. Mark Davis – 26,550,000
  2. Viet Vo – 11,925,000
  3. Mike Laufer – 6,750,000
  4. Andrew Barfield – 5,500,000
  5. Marcos Exterkotter – 10,900,000
  6. Darren Elias – 38,825,000

This is the second straight year that Vo final tabled this event. As a result, it means that Vo final tabled the two largest events in WPT history. Last year, the Texas native finished third for $593,140.

Everybody remaining is guaranteed at least $215,000, but the eventual winner will take home a tad more than $1 million. Whoever wins the event will secure a career-best cash.

Local players shine in Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown prelim events

In most poker tournament series at the Seminole-owned properties, a ton of world-class players travel to the Sunshine State to play the high-stakes events that are typically on the back end of the schedule.

Before those events get underway, it’s more of a regional event. It gives Floridians a chance to battle with other top poker players in the area.

That was once again the case this time around as tons of regulars left the casino with hardware. In one of the last events of the series, Delray Beach native Raminder Singh broke a five-way tie for most Hard Rock trophies of all time.

The Delray Beach native topped a 215-entry field in a $150 no-limit hold ’em tournament for $5,008 as part of a four-way deal to earn his eighth Hard Rock win. Singh was tied with Gabe Ramos, two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Yuval Bronshtein, David Prociak, and three-time WPT Champion Brian Altman before he earned his eighth victory on April 7.

Bronshtein, Ramos and Altman won their seventh titles earlier in the series, but they only shared the top spot for about a week before Singh pulled away again. Prior to the start of the 2022 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, It was just Singh and Prociak atop the list with seven titles apiece.

Other Florida natives to win tournaments include Nancy Birnbaum, David Shmuel and Zoltan Czinkota.

Top poker pros make waves

Despite Florida players making up most of the winners early on, there were still several well-known poker pros that earned victories.

Four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Jeff Madsen won the $600 pot-limit Omaha hi-lo event for $16,335. And two-time bracelet winner Anatolii Zyrin took down the $400 Big O for $10,950.

Madsen told reporters on-site that the plethora of mixed game tournaments throughout the schedule was the main reason he played nearly the entire series.

James Calderaro, who has both a bracelet and a WPT title on his resume, won the seniors event.

Of course, the high roller fields at the series were almost exclusively made up of world-class professionals.

Altman won the $25,000 no-limit hold ’em high roller for $692,661. It was part of a three-way deal with fellow high-stakes pros Chance Kornuth and Jerry Wong. Altman topped a field of 132 entries, which was the largest high roller field in Seminole Hard Rock history.

In the $50,000 no-limit hold ’em super high roller, Andrew Lichtenberger emerged above the rest. He bested a star-studded 32-entry field to earn $638,223.

Upcoming Florida poker tournament series

Next week, the RunGOOD Poker Series kicks off at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The series will run from April 21 – May 2.

Following the end of the RGPS, most of the poker world will head to Las Vegas for the WSOP at Bally’s.

Once the series ends, however, there are a few major series running at Seminole properties.

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open runs from July 28 – Aug. 9. And there is the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Championship Series from Aug. 25 – Sept. 6.

Photo by Seminole Hard Rock / 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.

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