The weekend of the 2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open’s “Big 4” is upon us, coming from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. The $5000 Main Event (with a $3 million guaranteed prize pool) opened up action on Friday, with Nick Pupillo pulling out to the lead over the field and field numbers that should make the guarantee fairly easy to reach on Saturday.

Finding the Right Number

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open has become one of the most popular events for players after the siesta taken by the poker world following the World Series of Poker. In its inaugural year of 2013, the SHRPO shattered its $10 million guarantee, but things got a bit tougher after that. A few years of the field not meeting expectations – and the Seminole Indian tribe paying the overlay to ensure the guarantees were met – left officials trying to find the “right” number of entries for the tournament without reducing the buy in ($5000). For 2018, that number fell on $3 million for a guarantee and it appears that will be met.

On Friday, 419 entries came out to take their shot at winning arguably one of the most prestigious titles that doesn’t have any connection to a major tournament series. Those entries brought the prize pool over the $2 million mark and surpassed the number of entries that were received last year in the event (407). Historically Day 1B is replete with players trying to make their way into the field, so it is conceivable that perhaps more than 500 entries would be received and the final numbers land in the 900-1000 entry level, which would create a prize pool of $5 million and would dwarf the 887 entries from 2017 (and the $4.3 million prize pool).

Nick Pupillo Rules

It seemed as if Pupillo couldn’t make any mistakes as he worked his way through the action on Friday. Late in the day, Harrison Gimbel raised the betting and Pupillo, in the small blind, decided to three-bet the action. Gimbel called to see an A-K-6 rainbow flop hit the green baize and called a bet out of the out-of-position Pupillo. A five on the turn didn’t slow Pupillo down as he fired another bullet and Gimbel was happy to come along with the call. A Jack on the river brought the third bullet out of Pupillo and Gimbel hit the tank to consider his options. In the end, Gimbel chose to call and, once Pupillo showed him he had the goods from the start with his Big Slick, Gimbel’s cards found their way to the muck.

This hand shot Pupillo over the 300,000-chip mark into the lead, where he would end the night over the 147 players who would make their way through the minefield of Day 1A:

1. Nick Pupillo, 445,500
2. Carlo Rodriguez Rojas, 355,500
3. Kenneth Fishman, 341,000
4. Tanner Millen, 313,000
5. Phillip Hui, 310,500
6. Matthew Leecy, 305,000
7. Joseph Cheong, 304,500
8. Kyle Keranen, 262,500
9. Davian Santana, 262,000
10. John Andress, 250,000

The “Big 4” Begins

The $5000 Main Event isn’t the only game in town at the Seminole Hard Rock this weekend. In fact, the “Big 4” events are all going to be in action on Saturday as they work to their live broadcasts on Tuesday next week. This tournament, along with the $1 million guaranteed $2500 No Limit Hold’em event, the $500,000 guaranteed $1000 No Limit Hold’em event, and the $2 million guaranteed $25,000 High Roller (with re-entry) event, will all reach their conclusions on Tuesday. They will all be broadcast Tuesday as a part of “The Big 4” live stream, with one event concluding and the next starting almost immediately afterwards.

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