WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown guarantee smashed

Table showing chips and cards on a poker table at Seminole Hard Rock
Terrance Reid
Posted on: April 30, 2023 17:20 PDT

The poker world showed up in droves to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the latest WPT Main Event. The always popular tour stop came with a $3 million guarantee attached. That guarantee was just as likely to be smashed as a Matthew Bellamy guitar at the end of a Muse concert.

Perhaps even earlier than expected, the number was smashed by the dinner break. Dinner break on Day 1a that is, still with an entire Saturday starting flight left to play. At the end of registration today for Day 1b, the total number of entrants had reached 2,290, generating a prize pool of $7,328,000. That means first place will be worth a staggering $1,128,250. Much of that was thanks to 192 players earning their seats through satellites.

It's no coincidence that so many players make this stop a priority.

"They're extremely well run," said Chicago native Michael Berk, echoing many others' feelings. "Every event feels like the most prestigious event."

We had the opportunity to speak with Poker Manager Jason Heidenthal about what makes the venue here a priority destination for poker players. He's been in his role here since 2019, and in the industry for about 20 years.

"All of the thanks goes to Bill Mason, he's the Director of Poker Operations here," said Heidenthal. "He's been on the property for over 14 years. He believes in the product, he grows the product. The Showdown in 2021 was the largest WPT of all time at the time and is still the largest $3,500 anywhere."

Jason Heidenthal Jason Heidenthal Allen Rash

That 2021 event had 2,482 entrants and built a prize pool of nearly $8 million. The ability to win over $1 million in a $3,500 tournament is one thing that draws players back over and over. But, it's not the only thing.

"We're always listening to the players and adding events that they want," he explained. "We've added mixed games, we've added high-guarantee prelims. I love that players continue to come back, it allows us to continue to grow the product every year. We have buy-ins from $200 all the way up to $50,000. This series alone had 126 events. We had mixed games every day for the first two weeks. We always do a high-roller series. We appeal to any bankroll and any player."

Echoing the sentiments of many others, his final thoughts were of appreciation for the staff. "I love every staff member I work with. We have world-class dealers and a great management team, Jordan Cutter and Ben Beighle run a great show. There are days we have eight different events running at the same time, and they keep it running like clockwork. I walked into a well-oiled machine, and for the three and a half years I've been here it's only gotten better."

The Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel is certainly a destination spot for any traveling poker player. On their poker website, tournament dates are listed a year in advance. Check it out, circle your calendars, and head down to see what keeps players coming back here in southern Florida.