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PokerNews Exclusive: Seminole Hard Rock Poker Sets the Bar High for 2014

Seminole Hard Rock

Having successfully held one of the biggest guaranteed brick-and-mortar tournaments this past August with an $11.9 million prize pool, Seminole Hard Rock Poker (SHRP) is keeping its foot on the gas and upping the ante for all poker venues in the US. In an exclusive to, Florida’s leading gaming brand revealed their plans for 2014 including the poker brand’s first Player of the Year (POY) contest and some tasty details about their upcoming tournament schedule for 2014.

The First-Ever Seminole Hard Rock Poker Player of the Year Race

2014 is starting off with a bang for Seminole Hard Rock Poker with the announcement of the first Player of the Year competition. “Seminole Hard Rock Poker is excited to announce our 2014 Player of the Year program commencing with our Lucky Hearts Poker Open tournament series at Seminole Coconut Creek,” stated Larry Frank, General Manager of Poker for Seminole Gaming. “This program is designed for the poker player and every entry earns valuable leaderboard points.”

The POY race incorporates Seminole Hard Rock Poker tournament events during the Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open in January and February at Coconut Creek, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in April at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, a soon-to-be-named tournament during May and June at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, and the grand-daddy of the POY race, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in August at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.

Players will earn base points for participating in each event during a tournament series, and will earn bonus points based on cash placed finished, buy-in amount and total number of entries. Points will be recorded and displayed for players to keep track of. The POY winner will receive a prize package valued at over $30,000 that features entries and casino-based incentives for Seminole Hard Rock Poker’s most prestigious poker events throughout the following year including:

  • $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock 'n' Roll Poker Open Championship
  • $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open Championship
  • $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship
  • $5,300 entry into Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship
  • $10,000 cash for entry into Main Event
  • Wild Card Elite status for following year along with additional benefits (including preferred access to hotel accommodations, dining and entertainment)

Although there can only be one POY winner, Seminole Hard Rock Poker is making sure to take care of other players competing in the POY race. The second-place finisher will win a $5,300 entry into the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship (August 2015), third place will collect a $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock 'n' Roll Championship (November 2014), fourth place will gain a $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open Championship (January-February 2015), and fifth place will get a $3,500 entry into Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship (April 2015). The sixth- through tenth-place finishers in the POY race receive a $560 entry into Seminole Hard Rock 'n' Roll Poker Open kick-off event.

The 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Calendar

According to Ray Stefanelli, Director of Poker Marketing for Seminole Gaming, “Seminole Hard Rock Poker continues to strive to offer our players the best experiences, whether at the poker table, casino floor, at our dining or entertainment venues, or relaxing on property. Our goal is to make our properties your choice to play poker. With the large prize pools, accessible price points, variety of games and limits, and exciting programs, Seminole Hard Rock Poker is where you want to come to play poker.”

Having successfully offered some of the biggest and best poker tournaments in Florida, Seminole Hard Rock Poker is looking for 2014 to make another splash and ingrain the Seminole Hard Rock Poker brand with poker enthusiasts around the world by offering a stellar line-up of tournament action to complement its live poker action across its properties.

The 2014 Seminole poker bonanza begins with the Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open. Running from January 29 to February 11 and held at the Coconut Creek property in Coconut Creek, Florida, this tournament series culminates with a World Poker Tour (WPT) $3,500 buy-in final event that runs from February 7-11 featuring two starting days, reentries for players that bust out early, a live-streamed final table, and a $1 million guaranteed prize pool.

The second tournament series of the year, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, will be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. Running from March 27 to April 16, this tournament series comes to a close with the televised championship event. Running from April 10-16, this $3,500 buy-in WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship event features the largest $3,500 buy-in guaranteed prize pool in the US with $5 million up for grabs. Featuring three starting days, this WPT-broadcast event also allows for reentries.

There is a third tournament on the schedule set to be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa in May/June, but at the time of press further details are unavailable as Seminole Hard Rock Poker is looking to provide players with the best possible poker experience and working diligently to find a desirable tournament series.

The fourth and potentially biggest tournament offering featured in the 2014 POY schedule is the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in August. After the success of last year’s $5,300, $10 million guaranteed tournament, players can expect another blockbuster event from Seminole Hard Rock Poker. For the moment, SHRP is playing it close to the vest with the details surrounding this series, but they expect the tournament series to be as popular, if not more so, than last year’s event thanks to the potential financial windfall speculated for the SHRPO’s Main Event.

The 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker calendar comes to a close in November with the Seminole Hard Rock 'n' Roll Poker Open Championship. Featuring a $3,500 Championship, the yet-to-be-determined guaranteed prize pool will be an attractive tournament series for numerous players not only looking for exciting poker action, but to also escape the cold weather found throughout the rest of the US. During this series, the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker POY winners will be announced. 

The Seminole Tribe’s Gaming History

In addition to its two Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Florida, the Seminole Tribe owns and operates five more Seminole-branded Florida casinos in Coconut Creek and Hollywood on the Southeast coast, in Immokalee near Naples, on the Brighton Reservation north of Lake Okeechobee and on the Big Cypress Reservation south of Lake Okeechobee.

The group opened the first high-stakes bingo hall and casino (Seminole Casino Hollywood) in the US in 1979. Although the Florida government tried to stop the Seminole Tribe from offering its brand of gaming, the Tribe did not back down and took the fight to US District Court in 1981. Victories in this case and cases brought by other Tribes became benchmarks for both the Seminole Tribe and other Indian-backed gaming ventures, giving them the green light to establish their position in the Sunshine State’s gambling landscape.

Seminole Gaming poker grew along with the Tribe’s brand. The group’s first poker offerings began at their original gaming venue (now called Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood) in 1994 with tables offering $.25/$.50 betting. Pots at the time had a maximum limit of $10 (based on state law) and the poker room contained 48 tables. Working within the confines of the limits allowed, the casino managed to offer multi-table poker tournaments by using a system in which a single chip was used to count for every $10 pot. When all the chips were counted, the players with the most chips continued on to the final table until a winner was declared.

As state law changed, so did the Tribe’s poker offerings. In 2003, Florida law changed expanding the hours of operation to allow poker from noon to midnight on live operating days, and the betting limits from a $10 maximum pot to a $2 max raise and three raises per round of betting.

In 2007, no-limit hold’em, with a maximum buy-in of $100 per player ($800 per tournament) was introduced within the state’s borders. During this period, Seminole Gaming took another major step forward in the marketplace by acquiring Hard Rock International, Inc. from Rank Group Plc in 2007 for $965 million. The purchase is the first of a major international corporation by a Native American Indian Tribe and marks a milestone in the growing economic power and prominence of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and other Indian tribes in today's business world.

In 2010, the Florida legislature eliminated limits on cash-game buy-ins, tournament buy-ins, and expanded the hours of operation to a maximum of 18 hours during the week and 24 hours on weekends. This shift in policy set the stage for casinos to expand their market dramatically and for Seminole Gaming to offer last August’s SHRPO $10 million guaranteed tournament.

That massively successful event saw 2,384 entries for the $5,300 Main Event, including 1,060 entries on the third and final flight (representing over 44% of the total field), which generated a prize pool of nearly $12 million. Blair Hinkle took the first-place title and a hefty $1.745 million payday.

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