Hard Rock DeepStacks poker draws record 4,075

There are mid-major basketball conference teams, and there are mid-major poker tours. And both have their moments of greatness.

For the DeepStacks Poker Tour, theirs came this month, when their opening event attracted 4,075 entrants – easily a record for the state of Florida. The event was the $350 buy-in “Ultimate Re-Entry” event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, part of their Lucky Hearts Poker Open series.

The DeepStacks, in its third year as a tour, also attracted 1,684 for the $1,100 buy-in main event, which concluded Monday. (That’s about triple last year’s entries.) Toronto accountant Salomon Ponte took home the $341,420 first prize in the $1,100 buy-in event. The Seminole Hard Rock had guaranteed $1 million in prize money, but the strong field of entries pushed that total to $1.6 million.

“DeepStacks does a good job knowing its players and running events with a personal touch,” Seminole Hard Rock Director or Poker Director William Mason said. “And this is one of four big events we hold each year, and we try to give each one its own identity.”

The opening event had a unique incentive for multi-day players. Those who bagged more than one stack during one of eight Days 1 received a $2,500 bonus; 55 players did so.

Mason also noted that some players shied away from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure series Jan. 6-14 at Atlantis in the Bahamas this year, and spent their time in South Florida instead.

The record event 1 field drove the tournament’s $500,000 guarantee prize pool to $1.2 million. The Seminole Hard Rock had the previous record for entries, 3,391 set at the same event in 2014.

“We don’t think 5,000 entries is out of the question for next year,” Mason said.

Even though their events don’t get the TV coverage of the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker, DeepStacks President Chris Torina said the Seminole Hard Rock venue’s popularity made it an easy sell for players who have played his other events.

“Easily one of the top three on our tour,” he said.

The Seminole Hard Rock stop was the second of 18 this year for the DeepStacks tour (WPTDeepstacks.com).  It’s also booked April 22-May 2 for Jacksonville, June 11-20 for the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa and Sept. 2-11 for Immokalee.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood’s largest poker tournament is the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in August, and has carried a $10 million guarantee. Details on this year’s event are expected to be released next week.

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