I once played in a live poker tournament at the same table as my brother. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to take his money and I sure as hell didn’t want him to take mine. I once got seated at the same table as my BOSS and proceeded to take his buy-in and all of his re-buys. I will admit, that was IMMENSELY satisfying, but still very uncomfortable (fortunately, he’s an awesome guy and cheered me on ringside at the final table). And these were just $100 tournaments, tops. Personally, I would never want to be going up against a friend heads-up for a million dollars. But that’s exactly what Jason Koon and Seth Davies did. And since they are pros and I am not, they enjoyed every minute of it.
Koon defeated Davies heads-up to win the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) Main Event Tuesday, cashing for $1 million in the $5 million guaranteed tournament. The two were once roommates and remain close friends.
In his post-tournament interview, Koon said, “[Seth] and I were laughing about the opportunity, and the next thing you know, we’re sitting across the table from each other with the trophy sitting in between us, so it’s a really surreal moment.”
Davies called Koon his poker mentor, adding, “I’ve learned so much from him, just about how to grow as a person and as a poker player.”
Koon began the final table in third place with 3.595 million chips, putting him in solid shape to make a run at the top. Davies, fittingly was in fourth with 3.350 million. The turning point in the tournament for Koon came on Hand #59. He had already built up a chip lead, holding close to 3 million more chips than his nearest competitor just a few hands earlier, but it was this hand, based on the SHRPO live update, that really put him firmly in control of the tournament.
Roman Valerstein raised pre-flop to 175,000 chips, Koon three-bet to 300,000, and Paul Balzano took it up to 875,000 after some thought. Valerstein got out of the way, but Koon ended up going all-in, after which Balzano called – himself all-in, as well – for 3.345 million chips. Balzano’s hand was good – pocket Queens – but Koon’s pocket Kings were better. Nothing higher than a Jack appeared on the board and Balzano was out in seventh place. The huge pot grew Koon’s chip stack to 10.260 million, more than double that of his closest competitor.
Koon never looked back, going into heads-up against his buddy Davies with a 14.3 million to 11.1 million chip lead. It looked like Koon was going to win it quickly as he built up a sizable lead, but Davies came back and kept it competitive for a while. Koon was too much, though, eventually taking down the title after fewer than 40 heads-up hands. On the final hand, Koon raised pre-flop and called a re-raise all-in by Davies. Koon had A-8, Davies had Q-J. An Ace flopped and an 8 hit on the river for good measure, giving Koon the pot and all of the chips in the tournament.
2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Jason Koon – $1,000,000
2. Seth Davies – $575,000
3. Tim Burt – $310,000
4. Roman Valerstein – $220,000
5. Tom Midena – $180,000
6. Joe Serock – $150,000
7. Paul Balzano – $125,000
8. Ryan Fair – $100,000
9. Zo Karim – $75,000