The ribbon has been placed on what has been the longest season in the history of the World Poker Tour. Brek Schutten earned the championship of the delayed final table of the 2021 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, taking home a million-dollar plus payday. In the same event, Brian Altman finished off an outstanding two year run to pick up the Season XVIII WPT Player of the Year award.
Largest Ever WPT Tournament
Three weeks ago, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown set records. It was the largest ever tournament with 2482 entries, building what would eventually be a nearly $8 million prize pool (on a $2 million guarantee). Only six men would vie for the championship, but they had to pause the final table in Florida for a bit before reconvening at the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas to determine a champion.
Sonny Franco was the leader at the start with his 31.9 million in chips, but Schutten was right behind him on a 31.3 million stack himself. The rest of the field seemed to be fighting over the scraps as Steven Snyder (16 million), Ken Aldridge (10.6 million), Albert Calderon (5.3 million) and a short stacked Viet Vo (4.2 million) needed to do something fairly quick to get into contention.
It would take a bit for the action to get going. More than 40 hands would be played before the first elimination would occur and it would see the rich getting richer. Schutten raised under the gun and got around to Aldridge, who moved all in. Schutten called the bet and showed pocket fives to go to battle against Aldridge’s K♦ 9♦ . Once the board ran out with neither a King nor a nine, Aldridge was out of the tournament in sixth and Schutten picked up even more chips.
This lit a spark under Schutten, who would go on to dominate final table play. He took down Calderone in fifth and lifted a pot of 29 million in a duel with Franco to seize over half the chips in play. Schutten was not challenged until Snyder knocked off Franco in fourth place, at which point Snyder took over the lead.
Snyder and Schutten would grind down Vo three-handed until Schutten took him out. Vo moved in from the small blind and Schutten looked down at 10♣ 8♣. He decided it was worth the risk to take out Vo and made the call, with Vo’s pocket sevens leading the way pre-flop. A ten on the flop ended any drama, knocking Vo out in third and setting the showdown between Schutten (61.8 million) and Snyder (37.5 million) for the title.
Snyder was never able to close the gap. Over the next nine hands, Schutten won eight of them to take more than a 3-1 edge in the tournament. On Hand 108, Schutten tossed out a bet and Snyder called from the big blind. A 10-5-5 two diamond flop saw Schutten fire again, but this time Snyder check raised and Schutten made the call. A seven on the turn did not seem to change anything, but Schutten moved all in and Snyder made the call.
Both players had flopped gold. Schutten’s 8-5 found trips on the flop, but Snyder’s A♦ 2♦ was looking for the nut flush. That flush would not come as a 2♣ finished off the tournament.
1. Brek Schutten, $1,261,095
2. Steven Snyder, 899,295
3. Viet Vo, $593,140
4. Sonny Franco, $438,500
5. Albert Calderon, 326,750
6. Ken Aldridge, $261,700
Brian Altman Dominates on Way to POY
The Season XVIII Player of the Year race dated back to 2019. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Season XVIII started back in late summer 2019 and did not conclude until the end of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Even without the extra year, Brian Altman dominated on his way to winning the Season XVIII Player of the Year award.
Altman had three excellent finishes, including the championship of the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open that concluded before the pandemic shutdown in 2020. Those three finishes, along with another cash, garnered Altman 3200 points under the WPT scoring system. It was enough to defeat one of the winners of the delayed 2020 final tables, the WPT L. A. Poker Classic champion Balakrishna Patur, by a surprising 900 points.
Here is the final rundown for the WPT’s Season XVIII Player of the Year race:
1. Brian Altman, 3200 points
2. Balakrishna Patur, 2300
3. Jack Hardcastle, 2200
4. Qing Liu, 2000
5. Eric Afriat, 1750
6. Manig Loeser, 1700
7. Toby Joyce, 1675
8. Donald Maloney, 1650
9. Lars Kamphues, 1600
10. Alex Foxen, 1550*
(tie) Matas Cimbolas*
(tie) Joe McKeehen*
(tie) James Anderson*
(* – while all players earned the same number of points, Foxen was technically the 10th place finisher by the WPT tiebreaker of most money won)
With the conclusion of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the two-year travail of Season XVIII has come to its finale. Season XIX will be starting within a few weeks, however, as the WPT hits the road for the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa on June 18. That tournament also features a $2 million guaranteed prize pool, so the record set by the Hollywood Seminole Hard Rock visit in April may be short lived.