Season X of the World Poker Tour continued Sunday night on Fox Sports Network with Part I of the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The $10,000 tournament, which drew 290 players and created a prize pool of $2,784,000, originally took place from April 18 through 23, 2012.
The event was new to the WPT schedule in Season IX, when Taylor von Kriegenbergh topped a field of 433 players to capture the $1,122,340 first-place prize. That final table also included Curt Kohlberg, Justin Zaki, Abbey Daniels, Allen Bari and Tommy Vedes.
Rocking a Poker Tournament: Space is a lingering concern for any venue hosting a major poker tournament, but not for event organizers at the Seminole Hard Rock. All they had to do was convert their luxurious concert space, Hard Rock Live, into a staging area.
Cast of Characters: As always, a recognizable cast of characters was present for the latest WPT including defending champ von Kriegenbergh, the dapper Matt Waxman, curly-haired William Reynolds, and local Jason Mercier. “It’s always fun to play big tournaments in Florida,” Mercier said. “Especially at this casino because it’s like five minutes from my house.”
Likewise, Floridian and Season X Ones to Watch member Ebony Kenney was in action and was the beneficiary of an early double when she made a royal flush holding on a board reading .
Best Dressed: The WPT Royal Flush Girls were in the house and rocking pink dresses to perfection. The lovely Angelique and Jeannie could be seen wandering the tournament floor during play, clearly a welcome distraction to the overwhelmingly male field.
Late Registrants: Tournament registration was open until the start of Day 2, and given poker players’ tendency to procrastinate, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see the degenerates roll in. Among them were last year’s sixth-place finisher, Vedes, and WPT Player of the Year contender, Joe Serock. When all was said and done, the field stood at 290 players and created a $2.8 million prize pool.
It Runs in the Family: It’s no surprise to see success in the poker world run along family lines, à la the Brunson and Hinkle clans, but there was a new family in town — the Reynolds. Well, actually, it was Reynolds and his cousin Alex Condon. The latter, who was only 19, took full advantage of Florida’s 18-plus law and was the last player under the age of 21 to survive.
What was even more impressive was the fact that it was the second year in a row that Condon had accomplished the feat, for which he was awarded a fancy guitar. “Are you going to start a band now?” WPT Live Reporter Jess Welman asked Condon.
“I might,” he responded. “I gotta learn how to play first.” Despite being the last young gun standing, Condon soon hit the rail alongside the likes of Mercier, Mike Sexton, Chino Rheem (who is currently in contention in the Season XI WPT Cyrpus), and the reigning champ, von Kriegenbergh.
Royal Flush Girls in Bikinis, ‘Nuff Said: There’s not a lot that can top tight pink dresses, but the Royal Flush girls outdid themselves with yellow not-polka-dot bikinis in a game of volleyball that also featured Vince van Patten and the surprisingly buff Tony Dunst. Unfortunately the segment was short, and the skimpiness even shorter.
Becoming the Bubble Boy: After Kenney and Reynolds hit the rail, only 32 players survived to get to Day 3 and Bill Brown led the way with his stack of 772,500. On the money bubble, Allie Prescott managed to get his stack all-in with on a flop of , but ran into the of Jason Koon. Neither the turn nor river would help Prescott, and he felt the sting of becoming the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown bubble boy.
Soon after, Kenny Nguyen (27th), Koon (21st), Club WPT qualifier Butch Valure (20th), start-of-the-day chip leader Brown (19th), and end-of-Day-2 chip leader Clyde Hinton (18th) all hit the rail.
Between a Serock and a Hard Place: Serock is no stranger to the WPT. He recently finished third in the Bay 101 Shooting Star and is one of the most consistent players on the WPT circuit. Likewise, Vedes always seems to put himself in contention for a WPT title and had his eyes fixed on making back-to-back Seminole Hard Rock Showdown final tables.
Late on Day 4, the two tangled in a pot that saw Vedes get all in preflop with and was in great shape against the of Serock. The flop gave Vedes a set, but it also provided Serock with a flush draw. The flush came in on the turn, but lucky for Vedes, the paired the board on the river and he doubled through Serock. Nonetheless, Serock finished as chip leader of the final 15 and could overtake the POY race with a fourth-place finish or better.
More Bikinis: A gratuitous shot of the bikini-clad Royal Flush Girls in a pool was shown much to the delight of the viewers (and this recapper). Surprisingly there was no yellow bikini to be found; instead, there was a mixture of red, orange, blue and pink.
Back to Back: When the final table was finally reached, three players were making back-to-back final tables. Vedes was doing it in back-to-back years at the same tournament; Serock had made back-to-back final tables at WPT stops; and Sharon Levin in back-to-back Seminole Hard Rock events.
Here’s how things stacked up at the start of the final table:
2012 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Final Table
|1||Craig Bergeron||1,235,000 (41 BBs)|
|2||Tommy Vedes||590,000 (19 BBs)|
|3||Sharon Levin||1,215,000 (40 BBs)|
|4||Kyle Bowker||1,070,000 (35 BBs)|
|5||John Dolan||1,455,000 (48 BBs)|
Busting Superstitions: Vedes lamented the fact that he was located in Seat 2, which was the same seat he had the year prior when he finished in sixth place. He was on the short stack, so there was a strong possibility history could repeat itself. Luckily for Vedes, he managed to score a double after he shipped all in with after Kyle Bowker had raised to 65,000 with . The board ran out and Vedes was shipped the 1.23 million pot.
Bowker Bites the Dust: On what would be Hand #46 of the final table, Bowker looked down at and moved all in for 255,000 from the cutoff. Serock picked up in the small blind and made the call, while Craig Bergeron folded from the big.
It was an obvious push from the short-stacked Bowker, but he only had a 30 percent chance of surviving the hand. Unfortunately for the man who used to work in the paint and lumber departments in Home Depot, the board ran out an uneventful and he finished in sixth place for $122,496.
“I guess it wasn’t my day,” Bowker said in his post-elimination interview with Matt Savage. “I lost the big flip to Tommy with to , and then was really short. Made a little bit of a comeback, looked like I had a shot, but too short, couldn’t win the last one.”
Tune in Next Week: Part II of the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown is set to air on Sunday, August 12, on FSN, so be sure to check your local listings. If by chance you miss it, check back next week for the latest recap of all the action right here on PokerNews.
*Pictures courtesy of World Poker Tour.