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  1. [caption width="640"] Justin Young celebrates his first WPT title with his wife Morgan and close friends including Eric Baldwin, David Peters and Jonathan Little (Joe Giron/WPT Photo)[/caption] More than eight years ago, Justin Young found himself at the final table of the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio. After outlasting a final table that included Hoyt Corkins, Amonn Filippi and Steve Sung, Young was heads-up with Chino Rheem for the title and just over $1.5 million. It ended with Rheem in the winner's photo and Young settling for second place. Wednesday night in Hollywood, Florida, Young again found himself heads-up for a WPT title, but this time the outcome was different. Young beat out a final table that included Cate Hall, Tim Reilly, Matt Haugen and eventual runner-up Garrett Greer to win the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. “This makes it all worth it. I promise you it really does. Unbelievable feeling,” said Young. “It makes the last seven years just completely worth it.” The day began with 10 players remaining in the hunt. Once the six-handed WPT final table was reached, it took almost another 50 hands for the first player to be eliminated. Chae limped from UTG and Ben Tarzia moved all-in from middle position for 1.275 million. Chae called and tabled [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"] and found himself racing against Tarzia’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"][poker card="9h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="jc"][poker card="4c"] and Tarzia was out in sixth place. It was just five hands later that a Chae UTG open led to another elimination. Chae raised to 350,000 and Haugen called from the cutoff before Tim Reilly raised to 2,600,000. Chae called and Haugen folded. The flop came [poker card="kd"][poker card="qc"][poker card="3c"] and both players checked. After the [poker card="4d"], Reilly moved all-in and Chae called. Reilly was behind with [poker card="7c"][poker card="7d"] against Chae’s [poker card="jc"][poker card="js"]. The river was the [poker card="9s"] and Reilly was eliminated in fifth. After starting the WPT final table with the chip lead, Haugen was unable to muster much else throughout the evening. With blinds at 125,000/250,000 (25,000 ante), Young raised to 525,000 from UTG and the action folded to Haugen in the big blind who moved all-in for 4,975,000. Young called and tabled [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"] and Haugen showed [poker card="as"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="td"][poker card="7c"] flop gave Haugen some Broadway outs, but the [poker card="7s"] turn and [poker card="3d"] river were no help and he was sent to the rail in fourth place. Even though Chae picked up the first two eliminations, his run at a WPT title ended in a third place finish. Down to just over 600,000, Chae moved all-in from the button. Young raised behind him, forcing Greer to fold, and tabled [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"]. Chae turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] and watched as the board ran out [poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4h"] and sent him home in third place. Heads-up play began with Greer holding a 3-2 chip lead that stretched to as high as 3-1 before Young began climbing back to eventually overtake Greer. After just 24 hands of heads-up play, Young and Greer found themselves all-in pre-flop with Greer holding [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"] and Young behind with [poker card="kh"][poker card="qc"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"][poker card="4c"] flop paired both players but left Greer in the lead. The [poker card="jd"] turn was a blank, but the [poker card="qh"] river gave Young two pair and the title. Final Table Payouts Justin Young - $669,161 Garrett Greer - $458,722 Hyoung Chae - $297,336 Matthew Haugen - $220,207 Tim Reilly - $164,113 Ben Tarzia - $132,560
  2. [caption width="640"] Tony Sinishtaj beat out a talented final table to win the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. (WPT photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] Over 3.5 years ago, Tony Sinishtaj found himself as a part of one of the most popular moments in Seminole Hard Rock poker history as the player Mimi Luu was up against in the “I Can’t Fold This” hand a the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. Wednesday night he overcame a final table that included Dan Colman, Darryll Fish, Simeon Naydenov and Robert Mizrachi to win the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown title, $661,283 and a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions event later this week. "It feels great. It's really hard to put into words. It's just a long time coming. I've been playing a long time and it feels great to finally, you know, put your name on the trophy," said Sinishtaj. Colman began the final table with the chip lead and quickly went to work in applying pressure. Just 20 minutes after play began, Colman opened to 225,000 from the button and Naydenov moved all in from the big blind for 1,915,000. Colman called and tables [poker card="ah"][poker card="7h"] while Naydenov showed [poker card="kh"][poker card="8h"]. The board ran out [poker card="as"][poker card="qh"][poker card="4c"][poker card="ac"][poker card="6s"] to give Colman the win and eliminate Naydenov in sixth place. Just half an hour later, Eric Beller moved all in for 2,090,000 and found a caller in Robert Mizrachi. Beller showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="7s"] while Mizrachi showed ]kc][poker card="ks"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="qd"][poker card="9d"] flop all but ended things for Beller and the [poker card="5c"] turn and [poker card="6c"] river sealed the deal. Four-handed play lasted three hours before Colman went from chip leader to fourth place finisher in just three hands. Colman raised to 425,000 from the button and Sinishtaj defended his big blind. The flop came [poker card="8s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2h"] and Sinishtaj fired out a bet of 550,000. Colman raised to 1,500,000 before Sinishtaj moved all in. Colman went into the tank for several minutes before finally calling and tabling [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"]. Sinishtaj turned over [poker card="kd"][poker card="8d"] for top pair. The [poker card="td"] turn gave Sinishtaj a flush draw and the [poker card="ad"] river completed the flush to leave Colman with just 2.5 big blinds. Colman was eliminated in fourth place on the next hand by Darryll Fish when his pocket twos weren't able to hold up. It took just 20 hands to get to heads-up. After Fish button-raised to 600,000, Mizrachi moved all in from the small blind for 3,500,000. Fish called and found himself racing with [poker card="ah"][poker card="qd"] against Mizrachi’s [poker card="4c"][poker card="4d"]. The flop came [poker card="qh"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2s"] to put Fish ahead with top pair and the [poker card="8h"] turn or [poker card="9h"] river completed runner-runner flush to eliminate Mizrachi in third. Sinishtaj began heads-up play with a nearly 2-1 lead over Fish and needed just under an hour and 39 hands to wrap up the win. On the final hand Sinishtaj raised from the button to 1,250,000 and Fish called and then checked after the [poker card="8d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2d"] flop. Sinishtaj bet 1,500,000 and Fish moved all in for 10,950,000 and Sinishtaj called and showed [poker card="kd"][poker card="qd"] for a flush draw while Fish had [poker card="as"][poker card="3d"] for middle pair. The [poker card="6d"] turn completed Sinishtaj’s flush to eliminate Fish and wrap up his first major title. Final Table Payouts Tony Sinishtaj - $661,283 Darryll Fish - $453,185 Robert Mizrachi - $293,864 Dan Colman - $217,686 Eric Beller - $164,438 Simeon Naydenov - $132,889
  3. Busting out of a World Poker Tour event usually means a miserable end to one's poker trip. Aaron Mermelstein was having none of that. After busting in 53rd place in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown on Tuesday, Mermelstein jumped into the $25,000 High Roller event and the Pennsylvania poker player beat a final table that included the reigning GPI Player of the Year, a former WSOP Main Event champ and a WSOP Europe Main Event champ to pick up the second biggest score of his career. Ben Yu didn't come to the final table with the shortest stack, but with just six big blinds to work with, the three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner didn't have a lot of decisions to make. On the first hand of play, he moved all in for 295,000 with [poker card="4h"][poker card="4s"] only to have James Calderaro called with [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"][poker card="as"] flop left Yu drawing to perfect-perfect running fours. The [poker card="qs"] turn gave him outs to a chop but the [poker card="jd"] river sealed his fate with a ninth place finish. Just a few minutes later, Brandon Adams ended up on the wrong side of an unavoidable preflop all in situation. Adams and Joe McKeehen got all the money in with Adams holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"] and McKeehen well ahead with [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"]. The ace-high flop gave McKeehen top set and left Adams drawing dead through the turn and river on his way to an eighth place finish. The player who did start the final table with the shortest stack, Alan Schein, laddered up two spots inside of the first 10 minutes before finally busting. Calderaro raised to 110,000 with [poker card="jc"][poker card="tc"] and Schein moved all in for 435,000 with [poker card="as"][poker card="9s"]. Calderaro called and then stayed ahead through the [poker card="7s"][poker card="5s"][poker card="2c"] flop. The [poker card="kc"] turn was also safe but the [poker card="jd"] river give Calderaro a pair to win the pot and eliminate Schein in seventh. Niall Farrell raised to 100,000 from the button holding [poker card="as"][poker card="qh"] before Mermelstein moved all in from the big blind with [poker card="9h"][poker card="9s"]. Farrell called all in and moved ahead on the [poker card="qd"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5s"] flop. The [poker card="7d"] turn gave Mermelstein a gutshot which the [poker card="6c"] river completed to give Farrell a sixth place result. McKeehen, who started the final table with the chip lead, got into a hand with Shannon Shorr that resulted in Shorr's departure. On a flop of [poker card="qs"][poker card="9s"][poker card="6d"], McKeehen bet 160,000 only to have Shorr check-raise all in for a little over 1,000,000. McKeehen called and turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="qh"] which put him ahead of Shorr's [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"] holding. Shorr was unable to improve after the [poker card="as"] turn and [poker card="jh"] river and was out in fifth. The former WSOP Main Event champ wasn't done there. McKeehen raised to 150,000 from UTG with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"] and Calderaro moved all in for 425,000 from the small blind with [poker card="ad"][poker card="5c"] and McKeehen called. The board ran out [poker card="qc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2s"] to send Shorr home with a fourth place finish. Unfortunately for McKeehen, the next hour wasn't as kind to him and he wound up busting in third. Mermelstein raised to 175,000 from the button, McKeehen moved all in from the small blind for 1,555,000. Foxen moved all in from the big blind and Mermelstein folded. McKeehen tabled [poker card="ks"][poker card="qc"] and was in rough shape after Foxen turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="th"][poker card="3c"][poker card="js"][poker card="5h"] wasn't good enough to save McKeehen from elimination. Heads up play started with Mermelstein holding 55% of the chips in play. Over the next hour, Mermelstein never surrendered the chip lead and eventually found a spot to pick off Foxen. From the button, Foxen raised to 350,000 and Mermelstein called. The flop came [poker card="tc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="4c"] and Mermelstein check-raised all in and Foxen called and then got bad news after Mermelstein turned over [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] for top set while Foxen showed [poker card="js"][poker card="td"] for top pair and a runner-runner straight draw. The [poker card="ac"] turn crushed any hope Foxen had, giving Mermelstein the title and a $618,955 payday. Final Table Payouts Aaron Mermelstein – $618,955 Alex Foxen – $545,000 Joe McKeehen – $305,665 James Calderaro – $210,295 Shannon Shorr – $136,935 Niall Farrell – $100,255 Alan Schein – $83,140 Brandon Adams – $70,915 Ben Yu – $68,470
  4. Back on April 16, the Season XVII World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown reached its final table of six. WPT Champions Club member James Carroll led the group, with Maria Ho firmly in second place. Eric Afriat, another WPT Champions Club member, also reached the final table. On May 30, the final six hit Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino to compete for the $715,175 top prize. What’s Up for Grabs? The winner of the Season XVII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown gets $715,175, a seat into the season-ending Baccarat WPT Tournament of Champions, and a luxurious Hublot Big Bang watch. As things stand, each of the final six have already locked up $148,380 for reaching the final table from the field of 1,360 entries. 1st Place: $715,175 2nd Place: $465,120 3rd Place: $344,960 4th Place: $257,815 5th Place: $194,610 6th Place: $148,380 READ: How the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown final table was set. How To Watch the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Final Table If you’re in Las Vegas on May 30, you’re able to head over to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to view the conclusion of the event in person, but of course, not everyone is within reach of Sin City. For those looking to tune in as it’s happening, the final table can be viewed on PokerGO. If you don’t have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. You can also follow along with written coverage on WPT.com. The event is also being filmed for broadcast as part of the WPT’s televised schedule of events that you’ll be able to catch later on FOX Sports Regional Networks. [caption id="attachment_624382" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Maria Ho (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 1: Maria Ho - 16,650,000 For all of the success that Maria Ho has enjoyed over the course of her poker career, she’s still yet to win her first major title. She has second-, fourth-, and sixth-place finishes in World Series of Poker events, and she’s twice finished in sixth place in a WPT Main Tour event. She did win the WPTDeepStacks Johannesburg title in October 2018. With the second-largest stack entering the final table, it’s all eyes on Ho. She’s not too far behind the chip leader, Carroll, and looks to be in fairly top form. Ho scored first place in the L.A. Poker Classic $25,000 High Roller for $276,690 in March, and she just placed fourth in the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS North America High Roller for another chunk of change around $70,000. Sprinkle in another handful of cashes and Ho is having one of the best years she’s ever had on the live felt. Her previous best year was in 2011 when she won nearly $660,000 in prizes. She’s already up to more than $550,000 in 2019 with a chance to go much higher with some pay jumps in this event. A victory would not only give Ho her first-ever WPT title, but she’d have earned more than $1 million from live tournament poker in a calendar year for the first time in her career. [caption id="attachment_624383" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Chad Eveslage (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 2: Chad Eveslage - 3,350,000 Chad Eveslage enters the final table second-to-last in chips, just ahead of Jerry Wong. Eveslage is already enjoying the best year of his live tournament career and this result is already the most money he’s ever cashed for in a single live tournament. Eveslage’s results track back to January 2011 when he cashed in the PCA Main Event for $23,500. This run marks his fourth WPT Main Tour cash and deepest run, besting his eighth-place result from the Season XII WPT Rolling Thunder event that was won by JC Tran. [caption id="attachment_624384" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Jerry Wong (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 3: Jerry Wong - 3,225,000 Jerry Wong has been on the big stage before. In 2016, he made the final table of the WSOP Main Event and finished in eighth place for more than $1.1 million. In 2017, he won the opening event of the WPTDeepStacks Hollywood stop down at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In that $360 buy-in event, he topped a mammoth field of 4,756 entries to win $250,000. Wong hadn’t reached a WPT Main Tour final table before reaching this one, but he has had a handful of deep runs to the last few tables. He wasn’t able to break through in those events and he’ll again have his work cut out for him in this one as he’s the shortest stack left in the field. Still, Wong has more than 20 big blinds to work with and one double up can get the seasoned pro right back into the mix. [caption id="attachment_624385" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Eric Afriat (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 4: Eric Afriat - 4,425,000 If you follow the World Poker Tour, then the name Eric Afriat is one you know. He’s a two-time WPT champion looking for his third trip to the winner’s circle, and he has plenty of experience winning these large-field WPT events. Afriat’s first WPT title came when he won the Season XII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $1.081 million. In that event, he topped an enormous field of 1,795 entries. Afriat won his second WPT title in Season XVI at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. There, he topped a field of 1,244 entries to win more than $650,000. A victory in this one would give Afriat a third WPT title and move him into the ranks of Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem, and Anthony Zinno, all of whom have three WPT titles and are one behind the leader, Darren Elias. [caption id="attachment_624386" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Ami Alibay (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 5: Ami Alibay - 8,175,000 Ami Alibay has been around the WPT scene quite a bit and he’s making his fifth WPT Main Tour cash to show for it. It’s his first time at a WPT Main Tour final table, though, and it’s also the largest live tournament score of his career. Alibay’s previous best WPT finish came in March when he took 11th in the Season XVII WPT at Venetian. That finish earned Alibay more than $33,000. All told, when you include the $148,380 he’s earned for no worse than sixth place, Alibay has more than $630,000 in live tournament earnings. Like Afriat, he’s a Canadian player, but he’ll have about twice as many chips to work with to start the final table as Afriat does. [caption id="attachment_624387" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] James Carroll (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 6: James Carroll - 18,525,000 James Carroll has already experienced winning a World Poker Tour event once. Back in Season XII, Carroll topped a field of 718 entries in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event to win $1.256 million. He came close to winning a second WPT title not too long ago, when in March he took seventh in the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $155,900. One more place up and Carroll would have found himself at the HyperX Esports Arena playing for the title. He’ll get his shot this time around, though, and he’ll come into play with the biggest stack left. Carroll boasts a career of nearly $3.4 million in earnings when you include the almost $150,000 he’s already scored here. A couple jumps up the payout list will give Carroll his second-best year on the live tournament felt when it comes to earnings, but a second WPT title is really what he’s chasing. Carroll should have one of the biggest rails of supporters at the HyperX Esports Arena on May 30. He has plenty of friends in the community who will be around to sweat him with the WSOP kicking off, and he’s from Las Vegas. If we were to guess, Ho will have the biggest group of supporters and then Carroll will be a close second. Seeing as those two are one-two in chips, it should make for a very fun day of action.
  5. James Carroll came into the final table of the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown with the chip lead and something to prove. Having already won one WPT title, Carroll still had the bitter memory of a seventh place finish at the LA Poker Classic in February to overcome. Over the course of eight hours of play, Carroll outlasted five other opponents to pick up his second WPT titles and $715,175. "This one is actually somewhat sweeter. The first one felt good, but I've been through some super tough times in the last five years, this feels good," Carroll said, after eliminating Eric Afriat on the last hand. Carroll and Afriat were the two players at the final table to already have a WPT title to their credit. Carroll won the Bay 101 Shooting Stars event in 2014 while Afriat took down the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in 2014 and the Borgata Winter Poker Open in 2018. The final table also included Mario Ho, Jerry Wong, and Chad Eveslage. Maria Ho raised to 500,000 from early position before Chad Eveslage moved all in for 3,400,000 from the cutoff and Ho called. Eveslage turned over [ad][jd] and found out he was racing against Ho's [tc][td]. The board ran out [8h][7h][5h][7s][2c] to give Ho the pot and eliminate Eveslage in sixth place. Just 15 hands later, Ami Alibay and Jerry Wong got into an all-in preflop confrontation that ended Alibay's run. From the button, Wong raised to 700,000, Eric Afriat called from the small blind before Alibay moved all in for 3,275,000 from the big blind. Wong called before Afriat folded. Alibay got great news when he turned over [9c][9d] and Wong showed [8c][8h]. The [ah][tc][7h] flop kept Alibay ahead, but the [kh] turn gave Wong extra outs with a flush draw and the [5h] river completed it to eliminate Alibay in fifth. Four-handed play continued for 51 hands before another player was sent to the rail after a preflop all-in battle. Afriat raised to 1,000,000 from UTG and Wong shoved all in from the big blind for 3,900,000. Afriat called and tabled [4c][4d] and Wong showed [ad][9h]. The board ran out [jc][hj][6h][3c][5d] and Afriat's pocket fours held up to bust Wong in fourth place. Down to just 16 big blinds, Ho moved all in from the button for 8,100,000 and Carroll called from the big blind. Ho was slightly ahead with [ac][5d] to Carroll's [ks][qc]. The flop came [as][qh][jd] to leave Ho in front, but the [kc] turn flipped the script and left Ho drawing to any ace, jack, or five for the win. The river was the [4s] leaving Ho as the third place finisher. Afriat started heads up play with a 2-1 advantage over Carroll but the two players traded the lead multiple times before Carroll took a formidable lead before finishing the job. Afriat raised from the button to 2,000,000 and Carroll three-bet jammed. Afriat moved all in and Carroll called and flipped over [ks][8h] while Afriat showed [6d][6h]. The [kc][kd][qc] flop gave Carroll a commanding lead. Neither the [3h] turn or [qs] river saved Afriat and he was eliminated in second place, giving Carroll the title. "He's very tricky. He's won two of these before and now he's got a second. I'd say he's doing a whole lot of things right," Carroll said of Afriat. "This is the first tournament I played with him. I probably played with him for three or four hours total before the final table. From what I've seen, he's very good." Final Table Payouts James Carroll - $715,175 Eric Afriat - $465,120 Maria Ho - $344,960 Jerry Wong - $257,815 Ami Alibay - $194,610 Chad Eveslage - $148,380
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