The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in South Florida is further proof that the live poker scene is officially back. Before play even began on Friday morning in the $3,500 buy-in World Poker Tour event, the $2 million guaranteed prize pool had been shattered.
Poker is booming again in the United States after a rough pandemic. Although certain health restrictions are in place in most places, including Florida card rooms, and many popular events have either been canceled or postponed, the game is once again thriving.
Florida has become an even bigger poker hotspot than it was pre-coronavirus. Part of that reason is the minimal COVID-19 restrictions forced upon the state from Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who refuses to require businesses to limit occupancy. That’s been a benefit to poker players around the state, and tournament grinders everywhere in the U.S. looking for some juicy action.
Poker is back in a big way
Things are really heating up in the Sunshine State on Friday, and we aren’t just talking about the weather. When play began at 11 am local time, more than 650 players had registered. At $3,200 per person to the prize pool ($300 taken out of the buy-in for fees), that’s more than $2,080,000, which exceeds the $2 million guaranteed prize pool. Within two hours after play began, more than 750 players had entered.
And that was only Day 1a. On Saturday, the Day 1b session begins at 11 am, and players who busted or want to forfeit their small stacks can re-enter the tournament on Day 1b, along with new players. So, it’s likely the tournament will easily surpassed $4 million, if not $5 million, before it’s all said and done.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, home to one of the top poker rooms on the East coast, also played host to the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open in January, a $3,500 event that brought in 1,573 players. Ilyas Muradi shipped the Hublot Trophy for $809,515.
The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The 2019 version, hosted in April, however, was a big hit with 1,360 players. James Carroll, a two-time World Poker Tour winner, won it for $715,175 and is the defending champion. This year’s Seminole Poker Showdown is on pace to shatter 2019’s attendance, which shows just how starved tournament grinders are for poker these days.
Day 2 in the $3,500 buy-in event at the recently renovated South Florida resort begins on Sunday. On April 27 (Tuesday), play will conclude once the six-player final table has been reached. The remaining players will then take a three-week break and travel to Las Vegas for the final table on May 18 at the PokerGO Studio. The final table will be filmed and recorded to air on Fox Sports at an unknown future date.
The next scheduled World Poker Tour event will take place at the Venetian in Las Vegas in July as part of the casino’s DeepStack Championship Series. Brian Altman continues to hold a huge lead in the current WPT Player of the Year standings. He won the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock last year, and also finished 3rd in two separate events. The World Poker Tour has extended the 2019-2020 season into 2021 due to the numerous COVID-19 cancellations in 2020.
Altman has 2,900 overall POY points, which is 700 more than his nearest competitor, Jack Hardcastle. He’s eventually going to be the winner barring a miraculous finish for Hardcastle or another player.
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