The penultimate stop on Season XIII of the World Poker Tour (WPT) came to an end on Wednesday night. The $3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown attracted 1,476 entrants over the course of three starting flights, but after five days of action, it was 22-year-old poker pro Griffin Paul who emerged victorious to capture the $1 million first-place prize, a Hublot Oceanographic 4000 watch, gold Monster headphones, and a $15,400 seat into the season-ending WPT World Championship.
Prior to the win, Paul had just $74,616 in winnings, which included $25,756 for finishing 441st in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, and $24,030 for placing 32nd in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars back in March.
"It's like a dream, I'm speechless," Paul told SHRPO officials after the win. "It was a really tough table. I fought some amazing players and here I am."
He went on to add, "I stayed here last night for the first time. It's an amazing property. Really nice. Beautiful. The staff here is great."
Final Table Results
Notable Finishes: Dan Heimiller (8th - $123,000), David Peters (10th - $58,500), Mohsin Charania (15th - $39,000), Vince Van Patten (27th - $22,100), Jared Jaffee (50th - $13,750), Marvin Rettenmaier (79th - $9,300)
According to live updates from the event, it took awhile for the ranks to thin. Canada's Ruan Rivers, who previously finished third in the 2014 PokerStars Canada Cup for $151,430, was the first to go on Hand #57 when his failed to overcome the of Joe Ebanks. After another baker's dozen of hands, Brian Green, a prior WPT Jacksonville bestbet Open finalist, bowed out in fifth place when he three-bet shoved with the and Paul, the original raiser, called with the . The fishhooks held and that was all she wrote for Green, who took down a career-high $269,000 for his performance.
Seven hands later, Shawn Nguyen, a cash-game player playing his first big buy-in tournament, exited in fourth place after losing a flip with the to the of Ebanks. The final three players were fairly deep, but that didn't stop Ebanks and Andre Crooks from playing a big pot six hands later.
On Hand #83, with the blinds at 100,000/200,000/25,000, Ebanks opened for 550,000 from the small blind and Crooks, who had finished fourth in the series' $350 NLHE Black-Chip Bounty event two weeks earlier, three-bet to 1.1 million from the big blind. Ebanks four-bet to 2.35 million, Crooks five-bet to 4.8 millions, and Ebanks six-bet shoved. Crooks snap-called for 9.975 million total and was in prime position to double big.
Unfortunately for Crooks, the flop came down to give Ebanks a set. Neither the turn nor river helped Crooks, and he was out in third place for $383,000.
Ebanks began heads-up play with the chip lead, but Paul took it over when he doubled on the pair's ninth hand. On the 34th hand of heads-up play, which happened in Level 35 (200,000/400,000/50,000), Paul limped and then called when Ebanks raised to 1.5 million. The flop saw Ebanks bet 1 million and then call off for 8.475 million total after Paul shipped.
Ebanks had flopped middle pair, but it was no good as Paul held top pair. The turn was of no consequence, and neither was the river. Ebanks, who won $1,158,481 and a gold bracelet in the 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max, took home $615,000 for his runner-up finish, while Paul etched his name on the WPT Champions' Cup.
Season XIII of the WPT will conclude this weekend with the $15,000 WPT Championship at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. PokerNews will have a recap of that event upon completion of play.
*Lead photo courtesy of SHRPO.