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WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Final Table Set

 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Final Table Set

The final table has been set at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale and it is still Alan Sternberg who leads, holding 4.605 million chips. Continuing the unique schedule, the tournament will take Wednesday off and hold the final table on Thursday. Today’s action at the casino is for the final table of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

Sternberg began Day 3 as the chip leader with 1.6 million chips and though he added 3 million to that by the end of the night, it’s not like the path was a straight shot upward. At one point, Sternberg’s chip stack dipped below what he started with on the day after doubling-up Cliff Josephy.

For the most part, though, Sternberg’s day went relatively smoothly. One of his most significant hands came late with just eight players remaining. Jonathan Jaffe raised pre-flop to 70,000 chips and Sternberg three-bet to 160,000. Jaffe then decided to move all-in for 630,000 and Sternberg made the call.

Jaffe showed A-2, but was well behind Sternberg’s Kings. Jaffe was unable to hit his Ace or put together any sort of runner combination and was eliminated in eighth place. That pot put Sternberg just about at his total to end the night.

The other news of the day from the Hard Rock was that Benjamin Zamani won the Season XV Hublot WPT Player of the Year title. Pat Lyons was the last player remaining who had a chance to overtake Zamani, but when he was eliminated in 23rd place, it made it a mathematical impossibility, allowing Zamani to clinch the award.

Zamani made three final tables at the beginning of the season, giving him a huge head start on the POY of the year title. He started off with runner-up finishes at both WPT Choctaw and WPT Legends of Poker way back in August and then, in October, finished fifth at WPT Maryland Live! In the end, it was a very close race, as Zamani just edged out Sam Panzica, 2,550 points to 2,500.

As mentioned, the final table of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale will not be contested until Thursday, April 6 at noon ET. Right now, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown final table is in the spotlight with just two players remaining. The WPT Tournament of Champions, also held at the Hard Rock, will begin on Friday.

WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale – Final Table Chip Counts

1.    Alan Sternberg – 4,605,000
2.    Ryan Riess – 3,090,000
3.    Tim West – 1,995,000
4.    Cliff Josephy – 1,855,000
5.    Terry Schumacher – 1,385,000
6.    Jason Koon – 1,030,000

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Ryan Riess Picks Up Second Leg of Triple Crown, Wins WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale

 Ryan Riess Picks Up Second Leg of Triple Crown, Wins WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale

Working his way through one of the final $ 10,000 buy-in events left on the World Poker Tour schedule, former World Champion Ryan Riess emerged from a tough final table to take the second leg of poker’s “Triple Crown” in winning the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale last night.

Coming into the action on Thursday, Riess was second in chips (with his 3.09 million stack) behind only former WPT champion Alan Sternberg, who was on top of the final table with 4.605 million chips. There were potential trouble spots in every other seat, with 2016 “November Niner” Cliff Josephy (1.855 million) and top pros Tim West (1.995 million) and Jason Koon (1.03 million) awaiting the battle. Even arguably the least experienced player on the table, Terry Schumacher (1.385 million), had a lengthy international poker resume (with Hendon Mob flags from Australia, Spain, the U. S. and his native Belgium) that made him dangerous.

The players wasted little time getting the action going in the Hard Rock tournament arena. Only 18 hands into the final table, Josephy would take his shot at moving into contention, but he chose the wrong time to take that shot. Moving in with an A-J off suit after a West raise, Sternberg woke up in the big blind with pocket Kings and made the call. Once West’s cards found the muck, the race was on between the duo. After it came down ten high – with nigh an Ace or Jack in the mix – Josephy was out in sixth place and Sternberg increased his lead over the field.

A quick nine hands later, the next elimination hit the rail. Schumacher defended his blind after a raise from Koon to see an A-J-4 rainbow flop. Schumacher would check-call a bet from Koon and, after a seven came on the turn, would check-call another bet from Koon. When the 8 came on the river – the third heart offering a flush possibility as well as going runner-runner on a potential straight – Schumacher checked again and Koon moved all in.

Now Schumacher paused, mulling the action in his head before making the river decision. Schumacher made the call and Koon surprisingly showed nothing but air – a Q-10 off suit that missed everything. Schumacher opened his bluff catcher, an A-6 for a pair of Aces, to take the hand and send Koon home in fifth place.

After Koon was away from the table, the tournament bogged down as the remaining four players battled it out. West was on the verge of elimination at a couple of points, but was able to survive one through chopping the pot and another when he doubled through. Unfortunately, that isn’t a way to stay viable in a tournament, as West found out on Hand 74.

In a blind versus blind battle, West moved all in and Riess decided to look him up, which turned out to be the right decision. Riess’ A-10 was ahead of West’s K-J, but the Q-J-2 flop moved West into the lead. Just as quickly as the poker gods gave, however, they would take away; a King on the turn made two pair for West but filled out Broadway for Riess to push him back in front. Needing another Jack or a King on the river, the innocent seven didn’t help West at all as he was eliminated in fourth place.

With two big stacks around him, Schumacher never could mount much offense in the three-handed battle. Watching his chips bleed away, Schumacher would put in his final chips in after a bet from Sternberg and a call from the small blind by Riess. The all-in move by Schumacher was good enough to get Sternberg out, but Riess made the call and saw his pocket nines were ahead of Schumacher’s J 7. Nothing helpful came for Schumacher on the A-6-5-K-4 board, eliminating the Belgian in third place and sending Riess to heads up action against Sternberg with a slight (1.5 million) chip disadvantage.

Deeply stacked, Sternberg and Riess were expected to fight it out over an extended period, but the end came rather quickly. Riess would chip pieces out of Sternberg’s stack to take a small lead over the former WPT champion before, on Hand 210, the end would come. Riess would open the betting with a 450K bet and Sternberg popped him to 1.15 million. Riess aggressively moved all in with his dominant chip stack and, after pondering his options, Sternberg made the call to see what would be the final flop of the tournament.

It was a race situation between the combatants, with Riess’ Big Slick racing against Sternberg’s pocket sevens, and it turned out Riess had a better engine. A King on the flop with two sixes gave Riess Kings up and, after another King came on the turn, Sternberg was drawing dead. Once a ten came on the river to officially complete the hand, Riess was celebrating winning the championship of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale.

1. Ryan Riess, $ 716,088 and a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions
2. Alan Sternberg, $ 491,081
3. Terry Schumacher, $ 315,726
4. Tim West, $ 204,466
5. Jason Koon, $ 157,599
6. Cliff Josephy, $ 130,370

With the victory, Riess has now completed the second leg of poker’s “Triple Crown.” The 2013 World Series of Poker $ 10,000 Championship Event victor now only needs a Main Event victory on the PokerStars Championships (the replacement for the European Poker Tour) stage to complete the trifecta, something that could be well within his grasp with his career earnings (over $ 10 million) and his youthful age (26).

There is still one more tournament on the schedule for the WPT at the Seminole Hard Rock and it is the Season XV closer. The WPT Tournament of Champions, with a field comprised only of the past season’s champions and WPT Champions’ Club members (players who have previously won a WPT event), begins this afternoon. There is hope that, with various amenities added as prizes and $ 100,000 added to the prize pool (the Season XV champions have already had $ 15,000 pulled from their prize money for their seat; former champions must pony up the ducats), that the field will be larger than last year’s disappointing 64 players (out of a potential 227 players).

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Tony Sinishtaj Takes Down WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown; SHR Poker Finale at Final Table

 Tony Sinishtaj Takes Down WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown; SHR Poker Finale at Final Table

It has been a hectic week of poker at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. Battling through more than 1200 entries, including one of the biggest money winners in the history of poker, Tony Sinishtaj emerged victorious in the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown last night.

The Showdown started the day with Dan Colman, ranked third in all-time earnings behind only Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel, heading the field with his 9.975 million in chips. Sinishtaj was close behind Colman at the start, holding 9.515 million in chips himself, while Darryll Fish held down the third-place slot with 7.525 million chips. The bottom three – Simeon Naydenov (3.115 million), Robert Mizrachi (3.1 million) and Eric Beller (2.96 million) – were not considered to be real threats to the leaders, but with the right combination of skill and luck could thrust themselves into that position.

Thirteen hands in, one of the bottom three was gone. As is his wont, Naydenov wasn’t playing to move up the ladder, pushing all in for roughly his starting stack. And, per his style, Colman wasn’t about to let such a dangerous opponent get any chips uncontested. It proved that Colman had the edge, his A-7 holding firm over Naydenov’s K-8 after Colman flopped an Ace and turned one, to send Naydenov to the rail in sixth place and increase Colman’s lead.

Another thirteen hands of play saw the second elimination of the day and, once again, it was one of those players who started in the bottom half of the standings. On the cutoff, Beller would move all in as he looked to steal some blinds and antes. Unfortunately for him, Mizrachi woke up on the button with a hand and made the call. Once everyone else got out of the way, Beller showed his A-7 off suit for the battle while Mizrachi popped up pocket Kings to defend his chips. It was all but over from the beginning; a King in the window gave Mizrachi an utterly dominant set to leave Beller drawing dead and, after the formality of the turn and the river, out of the tournament in fifth place.

After Beller headed to the Hard Rock cage to collect his winnings, the remaining four men hit the brakes on the tournament. There wouldn’t be an elimination for the next 80-plus hands, but there was action. Most of it was coming from Colman, who looked to play sheriff on the table and instead saw his chip stack dwindle precariously. After doubling up Sinishtaj for the second time, Colman’s scraps for chips went to the center on Hand 114 with pocket deuces. Although both Fish and Sinishtaj would look him up, Fish would get credit for the elimination as he made a pair of sevens to knock out Colman in fourth place.

Only 20 hands later, the next departure came. Mizrachi was probably pleased about moving into the final three money, but a poker player’s drive always comes from trying to win the tournament they’re in. Fish was the beneficiary once again, making a pair of Queens on the flop against Mizrachi’s pocket fours, to eliminate the hometown favorite (the Mizrachis hail from Hollywood) in third place.

Even though he had been fairly active, Fish was still facing a pretty steep climb in heads up play against Sinishtaj. Down by a 2-1 margin, Fish played masterfully in the early parts of the heads-up battle and, over the span of roughly 20 hands, had taken over the lead. After another ten hands, the lead for Fish would stretch out to its own 2-1 margin over Sinishtaj. For Fish, that would prove to be the final highlight of his time in the Showdown.

On Hand 168, Fish limped in and Sinishtaj raised the action to 1.4 million. Fish pondered what was on Sinishtaj’s mind before moving all in and without hesitation Sinishtaj made the call. It turned out he was right – pre-flop at least – as Sinishtaj’s pocket sevens were leading Fish’s pocket deuces. Once the board ran out Q-J-9-A-9, Sinishtaj could breathe again as he took a key double up and retook the lead from Fish.

Five hands later, it was over. After a raise from Sinishtaj, Fish made the call to see an 8 3♠ 2 flop. After first checking his option and seeing Sinishtaj fire again, Fish check-raised all-in for his tournament existence. Once again with no hesitation, Sinishtaj called the bet and turned up a K Q for the flush draw against Fish’s A-3 off suit (pair of treys). The end came quickly when a 6 came on the turn to leave Fish drawing dead and, after the exercise of dealing the river (a 9, for the record), crowning Sinishtaj the champion of the Showdown.

1. Tony Sinishtaj, $ 661,283 plus seat in WPT Tournament of Champions
2. Darryll Fish, $ 453,185
3. Robert Mizrachi, $ 293,864
4. Dan Colman, $ 217,686
5. Eric Beller, $ 164,438
6. Simeon Naydenov, $ 132,889

After taking a day off for the end of the Showdown, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale will step to the fore for its conclusion on Thursday. Surviving from the 349-player field are six men who, for their $ 10,000 buy-in, will be amply rewarded today for their three days of labor!

Leading the way will be WPT Champions’ Club member Alan Sternberg, who will hold a sizeable stack of 4.605 million in chips when the table comes together again. Sternberg, the 2011 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star champion, has some quality competition looking to take him down once the cards hit the air. Just behind Sternberg is former World Champion Ryan Riess, sitting on a stack of 3.09 million chips, and a member of last year’s “November Nine,” Cliff Josephy, a little further back with 1.855 million chips. Toss in other “grizzled veterans” of the poker wars like Tim West (1.995 million), Terry Schumacher (1.385 million) and Jason Koon (1.03 million) and the final table should be an exciting one.

The final table of the Finale will begin at noon at the Hard Rock and the live stream with former WPT champion Tony Dunst will begin at 12:30 on delay at WPT.com (the tournament is not a part of the television schedule on Fox Sports 1). It also will mark the final entry from Season XV champions into the WPT Tournament of Champions (which begins Friday) if someone other than Sternberg should win the tournament (Sternberg, as a former champion, must buy into the ToC unless he wins the Finale).

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WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Day 2 – Alan Sternberg Aims for Second WPT Title

 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Day 2 – Alan Sternberg Aims for Second WPT Title

With the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown paused before the final table, the $ 10,000 buy-in WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale was into its second day on Monday. When registration closed at the start of Day 2, there were 349 total entries, up seven from last year, and 193 players ready to go. When the smoke cleared at the end of the night, just 27 players remained with Alan Sternberg emerging as the chip leader.

Though Sternberg is out in front, it is really nearly a dead heat, as he has 1.6 million chips on the nose while Terry Schumacher is less than a big blind behind with 1.591 million. 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Ryan Reiss has also eclipsed the million chip mark, starting Day 3 with 1.056 million.

Speaking with WPT.com after he had bagged his chips, Sternberg said that his road to the chip lead was “a pretty steady build.”

“There was about an hour in the middle of the day where I lost a third of my stack, but outside of that it was a pretty steady crawl up,” he added. “My biggest hand was I five-bet all in against Jonathan Little with A-K suited, and he had kings. The flop card was an ace, and that gave me the chip lead, and I just went from there.”

Hey, nobody said poker tournaments didn’t require a little luck.

Sternberg also employed what looked to be a wise strategy when the tournament was on the money bubble and action slowed way, way down. Noting that his table was stuffed with strong players like Jake Cody and Marvin Rettenmaier, Sternberg said he just sat back and tried not to engage if he didn’t have to.

“I just kind of took it easy, played my hands,” he said. His stack was still more than double the average when he finally got away from the table.

Sternberg is familiar with this territory, deep in a major live tournament. Though this will only be his tenth recorded live cash, he has one gigantic one on his resume: a million dollar win at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship in 2011. All told, he has about $ 1.2 million in live earnings.

With the 349 entries for the tournament, the prize pool ended up at $ 3,315,500. Payouts go down to 44 places, so everyone playing today has already made the money. The winner will walk away with $ 716,088.

Day 3 is just getting started at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale and will play down to the six-handed final table.

WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1.    Alan Sternberg – 1,600,000
2.    Terry Schumacher – 1,591,000
3.    Ryan Riess – 1,056,000
4.    Josh Kay – 842,000
5.    Tim West – 828,000
6.    Cliff Josephy – 746,000
7.    Pat Lyons – 656,000
8.    Marvin Rettenmaier – 611,000
9.    Alex Keating – 608,000
10.    Noah Vaillancourt – 500,000

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Hard Rock Purchase of Trump Taj Mahal Finalized

 Hard Rock Purchase of Trump Taj Mahal Finalized

The Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City has been closed for six months (cue reminder that Donald Trump somehow ran multiple casinos into the ground). It will not be opening any time particularly soon, but it does look like it will have new life breathed into it, as its sale to Hard Rock International was finalized on Friday.

The Taj Mahal was owned by billionaire investor and current special advisor to President Trump (funny how that works), Carl Icahn. Icahn was the largest debtholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts when that company entered its billionteenth bankruptcy proceeding in September 2014. When the company came out of bankruptcy in February 2016, Icahn took over the Taj Mahal.

One would have expected that to be a good thing. The guy had billions and also owned the Tropicana, so he supposedly knew what was up. Icahn also said he would plow $ 100 million into the Taj for much needed updates. The catch there, though, was that he wanted tax breaks from New Jersey and Atlantic City and concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union. He got the latter (union members lost their healthcare and pension benefits) but not the former, so he never injected that $ 100 million.

Once Icahn took over, the union attempted to get its members’ benefits back via negotiations, but when Icahn wouldn’t play ball, about 1,000 union members went on strike on July 1st, 2016. The next month, it was announced that the Trump Taj Mahal would close, with the company blaming the striking employees.

The Taj Mahal closed on October 10th, 2016.

While there were reports that Icahn was in talks with casino operators to sell the property, he said in January 2017 that the casino was not for sale. It was thought that he was going to attempt to re-open it with non-union labor.

Shortly after he Icahn said he wasn’t looking to sell the Taj, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian expressed his thoughts to reporters of a State of the City address:

It’s the worst of the worst, things like that. Taj Mahal was the crown jewel before the Borgata in Atlantic City. It’s a great facility, but it didn’t get that $ 100 million face lift that the other properties got in Atlantic City and so you knew it when you walked in there. But it’s a great property; I really hope that Mr. Icahn, if he doesn’t want to build, sells it…and lets someone else come in and do it.

He doesn’t have any faith in the city, I get it, or the state…but don’t let us lose that building and leave it vacant on the Boardwalk. We need the thousands of jobs, we need the taxes, and we need the type of activity that it draws to bring people to Atlantic City.

Upon hearing that, Icahn piped up, saying he would sell the Taj Mahal to Guardian for $ 300 million, the amount Icahn had allegedly lost on the property.

Fast forward a couple months to early March and Icahn agreed to terms with Hard Rock International, a deal which was finalized last week. No dollar figures have been made public. Hard Rock has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, during which company reps will presumably explain their plans for the casino. They have already said they want to re-open it next spring.

“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, in a statement in March. “We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City will be a success.”

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