Thirty tournaments, more than $9 million in guaranteed prize money and the debut of a 30-second clock created multiple story lines and noteworthy moments at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which ended Sunday in Hollywood:
Shot clock: Most players said they liked the 30-second “action clock,” used for the first time in the Tournament of Champions, although pro Matt Salsberg twice had hands ruled dead in the first hour, including what he said was a flush against Matt Waxman’s three Jacks. Waxman said: “It’s the player’s responsibility to know how much time is left on the clock. But it’s something the players had to adapt to.” Suggested tweaks include extended the clock to one minute on river bets, because counting out chips and mentally reconstructing the hand takes time.
Turnout: Poker rooms place guarantees on events to entice players, and in this case, the interest was obvious. The Seminole Hard Rock’s main event, which carried a $2 million guarantee, attracted 1,222 entrants at $3,500 each for a $3.9 million prize pool. The Finale event also guaranteed $2 million and drew 342 players at $10K each for a $3.2 million pool. And the Seminole Hard Rock smashed the $1 million guarantee for the $25,500 High Roller tournament, paying out $2.35 million.
Locals: David “Chino” Rheem, 36, of Los Angeles, first developed his poker chops 15 years ago at the Seminole Casino Classic bingo hall in Hollywood. He won the $10K buy-in Hard Rock Finale and $690,885, the largest score for anyone in the series. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, of Hollywood, finished third in the Tournament of Champions Sunday, earning $140,450. Mizrachi, who has earned $14.8 million in tournament poker, had taken the chip lead as the field narrowed to three only to misplay a hand and be eliminated in what was a stinging turn of events for his family and friends. Jonathan Jaffe (Fort Lauderdale) finished fourth, winning $95,400, and Noah Schwartz (Sunny Isles) earned $74,200 for fifth.
Controversy: The field narrowed to 10 in a qualifying tournament that awarded seven seats (each worth $25,500) to the High Roller event. Down to so few chips she couldn’t even bet the required big blind and antes, Lily Kiletto (gratuitously pictured here) received an unexpected gift when Mike Dentale folded his big blind. Players at the table shouted that Dentale colluded to help Kiletto survive, but he later posted that he was “really drunk” and simply didn’t know that he already had Kiletto covered.
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