It may not be a part of the World Poker Tour’s schedule anymore, but the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, is still holding its high-profile events – and getting power-packed fields to go along with it. Last week the Foxens, Alex and Kristen, ravaged the $25,000 High Roller event, and the $3500 Main Event for the 2024 Lucky Hearts Poker Open impressed with its field also. In the end, it was local player Raminder Singh who emerged victorious over the monstrous field to take home the trophy and a nearly $500,000 payday.
Blaze Begins in Building the Field
With a $2 million guarantee on the festivities, there were two Day Ones to build a field that would potentially crack that mark. The Seminole Tribe need not worry about eclipsing that hefty guarantee, however, as in Day 1A alone they nearly drew enough players to meet the required prize pool. With the unlimited reentries available for the players also, it was obvious after Day 1A that the guarantee was going down.
Day 1A saw 575 entries hit the tables, from which 190 fortunate players survived to move to the Day 2 action. On Day 1B, there was a slight uptick in entries to 613, with a relative rise in the number of players who moved forward in 200. That meant there were 390 players (from a 1118-entry field) to vie for the 149 slots that would pay out from the $3,801,600 prize pool (nearly doubling the guarantee).
Several notables walked off with some Main Event cash for their efforts before the final table on Tuesday. Such players as Daniel Smiljkovic, Stoyan Madanzhiev, Joe Serock, Viktor Ustimov, Josh Arieh, Kathy Liebert, Kristen Foxen, and Jean ‘Prince’ Gaspard were a few of the players who got something back for their (minimum) $3500 investment. Of course, the real money was at the top, and the final table did not fail to entertain.
Justin Datloff, Jesse Lonis Leads the Way at Final Table
When the final table was determined, there were several familiar names to the casual poker fan. Benny Glaser was in the middle of the pack with his 7.7 million in chips, while Jonathan Jaffe rode high with his 9.25 million stack. On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Hastings was on the short stack (2.45 million) while Justin Datloff (11.2 million) and Jesse Lonis (10.8 million) were at the head of the table. Lurking in the middle also was Singh, who held 6.35 million in chips and went on the attack quickly.
In two quick hands, Singh would put a significant dent in the stack of Glaser. On the first hand, the duo checked it down to the river on a 10-10-9-4-7 board that contained four hearts. Glaser found a bet on the river, but Singh found a call, tabling a naked K-Q for King high that topped Glaser’s K-8 airball. On the second hand, Singh would power over the ten million mark in chips by flopping an Ace-high flush which Glaser could not counter.
After Lonis eliminated Hastings in ninth to take over the lead, the Singh/Glaser show continued, with a similar outcome as before. On an A-J-3-8-8 board, Singh showed down an A-9 that Glaser once again couldn’t top, and Singh shot over the twelve million mark in chips. The turning point in the tournament came, however, when Singh took down Toby Joyce in eighth place.
Joyce had just come off winning a decent-sized pot against Datloff when he committed those newfound chips to battle against Singh. Singh led pre-flop with his pocket Jacks against the Big Slick of Joyce, and a Jack on the turn left Joyce drawing dead. With that hand, Singh went to the lead with almost sixteen million chips as Joyce went to the cage to collect his eighth-place winnings. The tournament would eventually work down to three men – Singh, Lonis, and Dan Martin. The trio would shuffle chips around for almost five hours before discussions began regarding a deal. Although Singh had almost the same amount of chips (27.1 million) as his two competitors (Martin 21.7 million, Lonis 10.6 million), the clock reading nearly 5 AM on Wednesday saw Singh negotiate a fair deal for all involved. In the end, he received the lion’s share of the remaining prize money and the Lucky Hearts Main Event trophy, while his worthy opponents were rewarded for their heart and effort.
1. Raminder Singh, $486,353*
2. Dan Martin, $460,000*
3. Jesse Lonis, $404,247*
4. Justin Datloff, $229,900
5. Jonathan Jaffe, $173,500
6. Mitch Garshofsky, $132,300
7. Benny Glaser, $102,000
8. Toby Joyce, $79,400
(* – indicates three-way final table deal)
(Photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood)