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John Andress Wins SHRPO $25K High Roller

John Andress
  • John Andress toppled Mike Leah heads up to win the $25K at SHRPO after having just one big blind.

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open hosted its famed "Big 4" series of tournaments scheduled to end Tuesday, all sporting hefty prize pools and star-studded fields. The biggest of those in terms of buy-in was the $25,500 High Roller, which attracted 117 players for one of the richer prize pools SHRPO has doled out.

American John Andress emerged as the champion after a prolonged heads-up battle with Canadian star Mike Leah. Andress pulled off a spectacular comeback after being down to just one big blind on the money bubble to get his biggest cash, $801,450, which nearly doubles his career tournament cashes of $984,573.

Official Final Table Results

1John Andress$801,450
2Mike Leah$561,600
3Brandon Adams$351,000
4Chris Hunichen$242,775
5Tom Marchese$155,025
6Omar Zazay$114,075
7Chance Kornuth$93,600
8Sam Panzica$78,975

As any big high roller will do nowadays, the tournament drew a who's who of poker stars, including the likes of Doug Polk, Isaac Haxton, Nick Petrangelo, Jason Mercier and Bryn Kenney. However, none of those players would prove to be much of a factor as all fell before the money bubble burst.

Kathy Lehne was the unfortunate soul to get felted on the bubble, according to the live updates, which left two tables eight in the money. Andress somehow snuck in with less than one big blind, but he would nonetheless outlast players like Marvin Rettenmaier, Joseph Cheong, Anthony Spinella and Rainer Kempe en route to the final table.

Brandon Adams eliminated Matt Glantz on the final table bubble after Glantz lost most of his short stack shoving with pocket fives and running into the aces of Andress. However, even his leading stack of 2,245,000 was less than 50 big blinds at 25,000/50,000/5,000, and barely over double the amount bagged by short stack Sam Panzica (910,000). So, it was still anyone's game going into the final day.

Unable to run up his short stack, Panzica did wind up being first to go. He lost about half of his chips before shoving in for about seven big blinds with {k-Spades}{8-Spades} and losing to the {a-Spades}{2-Hearts} of big blind Tom Marchese despite turning a live 14-out draw to go with two live cards.

SHRPO ambassador Chance Kornuth has had his share of success in $25K events with wins in both Aussie Millions and WPT bestbet Jacksonville, as well as a second-place finish at EPT Dublin in 2016. However, he'd have to settle for seventh on his adopted home turf, as he pushed with a desperately short stack holding {k-Hearts}{q-Spades} on the button and lost to Andress' {a-Spades}{2-Hearts} to go out seventh.

Adams took control of nearly half of the chips when he busted Omar Zazay in sixth with {k-Spades}{q-Spades} against {10-Clubs}{10-Hearts} all in preflop, but Leah made his big move right after that.

Marchese shoved under the gun for 16 big blinds, Chris Hunichen reshoved with 20, and Leah woke up with {a-Hearts}{k-Diamonds} in the big blind. He called off his own stack of 17 bigs, and he was up against the {8-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} of Marchese and {a-Spades}{j-Spades} of Hunichen. An ace-high board hit, along with four diamonds, so Leah got everything he needed to score the knockout and collect a double.

"Big Huni" was left with dust and managed one double before falling to Adams.

Adams and Leah were the two big stacks, and Leah wrested the lead from the resurgent Adams, who scored just his third cash since 2013 this January with second place in the Aussie Millions $25K. The tangled on a board that ran out {a-Clubs}{q-Diamonds}{4-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}. Leah bet all three streets and shoved river, and Adams called him down with {a-}{7-}. However, the Canadian had made a flush with {10-Clubs}{3-Clubs} and took the pot and a huge lead into heads-up play.

Down 3-1 to start, Andress turned the tables on Leah and moved into the lead. However, it proved to be fleeting as Leah returned to his dominant position. It would take about three hours before one finally toppled the other. In the end, it would come to a flip, and when Leah's {a-Hearts}{j-Clubs} didn't improve against {8-Clubs}{8-Hearts}, securing Andress a trophy and his biggest cash.

"“Mike is real tough, and Brandon was playing a lot of hands,” Andress said afterwards to tournament reporters. “I had some good spots, and things went well when it mattered.”

Photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock

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