Sonny Franco isn’t a household name, but he just might be one in a few weeks if he ships the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. The French poker pro holds the chip lead following Day 4 of the $3,500 buy-in poker tournament. And only five other players stand in his way of glory.
The winner of this event, held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in South Florida, will take home a whopping $1,261,095, and join the World Poker Tour Champion’s Club, one of poker’s most exclusive clubs. Franco and his five opponents will have to wait a bit before chasing that life-changing money. That is because the final table won’t take place until May 18. The players will travel from Florida across the country to Las Vegas.
The final table, hosted at the PokerGO Studio outside the Aria Resort and Casino, will be televised on Fox Sports at an undisclosed future date. Vince Van Patten and Tony Dunst, who finished in 52nd place in this event ($16,360), will provide the commentary.
Out of six remaining players, exactly none of them have won a previous World Poker Tour title. And they’re all chasing the biggest score of their lives by a longshot. Regardless of the outcome at the final table, each remaining player is guaranteed a minimum payday of $261,700, which they’ll all receive prior to the Las Vegas trip.
Even though that’s enough money to purchase a decent home or save for retirement, they’ll all be looking for more — a lot more. The top three finishers will receive more than $500,000. Avoiding busting first at the final table is worth at least an extra $65,000.
You won’t find any big-name pros at this final table, although numerous top players entered the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some talented players worth following. Franco, for example, has nearly $2.2 million in lifetime live tournament cashes. This is his first WPT Main Tour cash.
Ken Aldridge and Viet Vo, on the other hand, have reached a previous World Poker Tour final table. This time around they are hoping to seal the deal and join the Champion’s Club. Vo took 2nd place in 2018 at the WPT Choctaw in Durant, Oklahoma. The $302,725 payday was nice, but he’d like get to over the hump next month and become a WPT champion.
Sizing up the final table
Alberto Calderon reached Day 4 with a large chip lead and 21 players remaining. On one hand, he had a great day considering he’s still standing and reached the final table. But on the other hand, his chip stack heading into the final table is only half of what it was prior to Day 4. With 5,350,000 chips, he’s in 5th place, a bit better than Vo (4,150,000).
Everyone else at the final table has a decent, if not great, stack. Aldridge sits 4th in chips at 10,600,000. Next comes Steven Snyder (15,975,000), and then the two large stacks — Brekstyn Schutten (31,350,000) and Franco (31,900,000).
When play resumes on May 18, the blinds will start at 200,000/400,000 (400,000 big blind ante). That means Vo and Calderon have less than 15 big blinds, putting them in desperation mode right off the bat. But both players have enough chips that if they double early, they’ll be back in business. There won’t be a player with 100 or more big blinds when play begins.
Franco is the favorite heading into the final table, given that he’s the chip leader and most accomplished live tournament pro remaining. But a few unlucky breaks could swing things in the favor of someone else.
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