Season XVII of the World Poker Tour has reached another final table on Tuesday, this time down in South Florida for the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. From a booming field of 1,360 entries, just six competitors remain, and they’re on break until playing out the final table on May 30 in Las Vegas. Leading the way is WPT Champions Club member James Carroll.
The final six players have each locked up $148,380. When they return to action in a month and a half, they’ll be chasing the $715,175 first-place prize and seat into the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. Joining Carroll at the final table was Maria Ho, Ami Alibay, Eric Afriat, Chad Eveslage, and Jerry Wong.
Carroll boasts a stack of 18.525 million, which is just about 2 million ahead of Ho’s second-place stack of 16.65 million.
WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Final Table
Seat 1: Maria Ho – 16,650,000
Seat 2: Chad Eveslage – 3,350,000
Seat 3: Jerry Wong – 3,225,000
Seat 4: Eric Afriat – 4,425,000
Seat 5: Ami Alibay – 8,175,000
Seat 6: James Carroll – 18,525,000
Numbers Never Lie
With 1,360 entries, the Season XVII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown generated a prize pool of $4.352 million and produced the fourth largest WPT Main Tour field size in history. The event with the largest turnout was the Season XII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown that attracted 1,795 entries. In second is the Season XIII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, and then it’s this season’s WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open with 1,415 entries.
Interestingly, the winner of the largest-ever WPT Main Tour event was Afriat and he’s now reached this final table.
Reaching the Final Table
The money line was set at 170 players, and entering Day 2 of the tournament there were 524 remaining. After a few hours of play, 171 players remained and the money bubble had come. Brandon Hall, who recently took fourth in the Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, found himself all in with the against the of Alibay, according to the WPT coverage. The board ran out clean for Alibay’s aces which meant Hall was out the door as the “bubble boy.”
From there, players began filling up the payout line. Busting before the end of Day 2 were Anthony Zinno (96th), Faraz Jaka (103rd), Victor Ramdin (112th), Tyler Patterson (118th), David Baker (122nd), Scotty Nguyen (125th), Dylan Wilkerson (132nd), Sam Panzica (133rd), and Dylan Linde (134th). When the day was all said and done, 90 players remained with Keith Ferrera leading the pack.
Day 3 saw the returning field of 90 players whittled down to 18. Darren Elias and Frank Stepuchin when out early, Aaron Mermelstein, Erik Seidel, and Will Failla fell later, and then Ferrera’s run came to an end in 19th place. On Ferrera’s final hand, he, like Hall before him, ran ace-king into the pocket aces of an opponent. Ferrera’s opponent was Eveslage who went on to bag the chip lead entering Day 4.
On Day 4, the goal was to play down to the official WPT final table of six. Former NFL star Richard Seymour was still in the field, but his time ran out with a 15th-place finish for $29,690. On his final hand, Seymour was all in with the against the for Alibay. The board ran out and Seymour was eliminated.
With 11 players left, Carroll won a big pot off Afriat that gave him a stack that was right up there with Alibay’s for the chip lead. After raising and calling a three-bet in position, Carroll was faced with a bet of 400,000 on the flop. He called and the turn was the . Afriat fired 750,000 this time, but Carroll stuck around with a call. The river completed the board with the and Afriat checked. Carroll fired 1.45 million and Afriat eventually folded. Carroll showed the for jack high. From there, Carroll continued to build his stack as players busted out.
On the final hand of Day 4, Jason Marshman went out in seventh place when Ho made trip jacks against him with the versus the .
WPT Champion Carroll in Dominating Position
James Carroll is no stranger to the WPT winner’s circle and he’s now in a dominating position to score his second World Poker Tour title. Back in Season XII, Carroll won the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event for a huge score of $1.256 million. In that event, he topped a field of 718 entries. The final table included fellow WPT Champions Club members Dylan Wilkerson and Nam Lee, who finished in second and fifth places, respectively, and Season XII WPT Player of the Year Mukul Pahuja.
Carroll boasts career live tournament earnings of more than $3.2 million, of which he’s won $1.556 million on the World Poker Tour. He has six WPT cashes, including this one, and three other top 10 finishes outside of his Bay 101 victory and this event. This season, Carroll finished seventh in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $155,900.
With a 18.525 million, Carroll has 34% of the chips in play entering the final table.
Afriat Seeks Third WPT Title
Eric Afriat could be the story of the whole event. The two-time WPT Champions Club member won the largest-ever WPT Main Tour event in Season XII, which was this very event that attracted a massive 1,795 entries. Afriat entered that final table fourth in chips, and that’s the position he’ll come in this time around, too. He scored $1.081 million for that victory, but his WPT success didn’t end there. In fact, it was only just beginning really.
Afriat has racked up 12 WPT Main Tour cashes, including this one, and in Season XVI he won his second World Poker Tour title when he topped another huge field at Borgata in Atlantic City. In the Season XVI WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, Afriat finished in first place above a field of 1,244 entries to win $651,928. Needless to say, Afriat knows a thing or two about winning large-field WPT events.
In addition to that success, Afriat has three additional trips to WPT final tables in previous events. He came sixth in the Season IX WPT Bellagio Cup for $118,950, third in the Season XV WPT Playground for $82,716, and fifth in the Season XVI WPT Montreal for $75,043.
A third WPT title would tie Afriat with the likes of Carlos Mortensen, Gus Hansen, Chino Rheem, and Anthony Zinno, who each have three titles and are one behind the leader, Darren Elias, who has four.
Ho Seeking First Major Title
For all of the success Maria Ho has enjoyed in the poker world, both on the felt as a player and off it as a broadcaster and personality, she’s yet to snag herself a major tournament title. Ho is second in chips entering this final table and it could very well be the one that allows her to grab that first major victory.
Ho has had deep runs on the World Poker Tour before. She reached the Season XIV WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars final table and finished in sixth place for $179,930. She also finished 10th in the Season IX WPT Bellagio Cup that Afriat took sixth in, earning $40,783 for that finish. She also has two World Series of Poker final tables under her belt, including a runner-up finish to Allen Bari in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2011 WSOP.
“It would mean so much,” Ho told WPT.com when asked what it would mean to win a WPT title. “I’ve been playing poker professionally for 14 years now, and unfortunately I’m still lacking that one major win. I know that it doesn’t define my career, but the World Poker Tour is very prestigious so it would mean a lot.”
In October of 2018, she did win the WPTDeepStacks Johannesburg Main Event for $69,166.
Ho had more than $3.2 million in live tournament earnings ahead of this event.
Don’t Sleep On Wong
Jerry Wong may be the shortest stack at the final table to start, but he’s been on the biggest of stages before. In 2016, Wong reached the WSOP Main Event final table and finished eighth for $1.1 million.
For Wong, he’s yet to win a WPT title and it’s his first World Poker Tour final table. His position on the leaderboard isn’t an advantageous one, but if Wong’s able to generate some momentum early then he could really put some pressure on his opponents given the experience he has. We’ve seen a short stack come back to win many times, so don’t be surprised if Wong maneuvers his way to a victory.
The Season XVII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown will resume action on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.