After a successful debut last year, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, attempted to make lightning strike twice with the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) $10 million guaranteed prize pool Main Event. Unlike last year, however, the final numbers fell far short of the goal with a massive overlay for those competing.
In 2013, the tournament was basically the first event coming out of the World Series of Poker and used a unique drawing card to get players to come to Florida. With three Day One flights, a player who was eliminated on Day 1A (or not impressed with their chip stack) could enter Day 1B, Day 1C or both to attempt to make a stack for Day 2. With a $5000 buy in ($300 juice for each entry), 2384 entrants turned out last year to obliterate the guarantee (the tournament was eventually won by Blair Hinkle for a $1,745,245 payday).
Fast forward the clock to Thursday. Each Day One had nice fields competing under the same format as 2013 but failed to reach the magic number of 2000 entries. After the totals for the three Day Ones were added together, 1499 entries were received for the tournament. If you haven’t got a calculator handy, that means that the Seminole Hard Rock will have to come up with slightly more than $2.5 million to cover the guaranteed prize pool.
The potential reasons for the shortfall are numerous. Unlike last year when it was the only game in town, in 2014 the SHRPO had to do some juggling to give themselves a chance at reaching the magical 2000 figure. The European Poker Tour kicked off its Season 11 schedule earlier in the week in Barcelona (the Main Event ended on Thursday) and, almost simultaneously, the World Poker Tour’s first stop of Season XIII, the Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, completed its Championship Event on Friday. Even though Seminole Hard Rock officials attempted to find a window that would allow as many players as possible to make the tournament, the occurrence of those two major tour stops (especially the 100th stop of the EPT) might have had an impact on the numbers.
Secondly, the failure to make the guarantee could be a result of the multi-entry format. Something that has been gaining in popularity in the tournament poker world, tournaments that allow players to enter multiple Day Ones have been debated as to their fairness for amateur players. When an amateur potentially has only one bullet to fire at such a tournament and deep-pocketed pros have multiple options (and can play more aggressively if they can dip back into their wallets), it may have kept away some players who decided to wait for a better option than the SHRPO.
Finally, the effects of online satellites for the tournament may have had an effect. For the EPT Barcelona (which featured two Day Ones and no option for re-entry) drew 1496 individual players, many of them from the online ranks. Although PokerStars attempted to support the SHRPO (through allowing online players to enter with their PokerStars accounts and bringing “semi-live” coverage of the final table later this week), the lack of ability for players to earn their way in “on the cheap” online might have had an effect (tough to quantify as, in 2013, the SHRPO didn’t have it either).
With all of these things said, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open still has a quality field. Poker professional Jared Jaffee, coming out of the Day 1A field, will have the overall lead heading into Day Two this afternoon with his 462,800 in chips. Other pros such as Tristan Wade, Ryan D’Angelo, David Williams, Joe Serock, Doug ‘WCGRider’ Polk, Josh Arieh, Keven Stammen and Matt Stout (among others) all will be in attendance today amongst the roughly 470 players who remain. When the tournament concludes on Wednesday, the champion will take home a nice payday of $1,446,710 and the entirety of the final table will earn six-figure scores.