It has been a hectic week of poker at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. Battling through more than 1200 entries, including one of the biggest money winners in the history of poker, Tony Sinishtaj emerged victorious in the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown last night.
The Showdown started the day with Dan Colman, ranked third in all-time earnings behind only Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel, heading the field with his 9.975 million in chips. Sinishtaj was close behind Colman at the start, holding 9.515 million in chips himself, while Darryll Fish held down the third-place slot with 7.525 million chips. The bottom three – Simeon Naydenov (3.115 million), Robert Mizrachi (3.1 million) and Eric Beller (2.96 million) – were not considered to be real threats to the leaders, but with the right combination of skill and luck could thrust themselves into that position.
Thirteen hands in, one of the bottom three was gone. As is his wont, Naydenov wasn’t playing to move up the ladder, pushing all in for roughly his starting stack. And, per his style, Colman wasn’t about to let such a dangerous opponent get any chips uncontested. It proved that Colman had the edge, his A-7 holding firm over Naydenov’s K-8 after Colman flopped an Ace and turned one, to send Naydenov to the rail in sixth place and increase Colman’s lead.
Another thirteen hands of play saw the second elimination of the day and, once again, it was one of those players who started in the bottom half of the standings. On the cutoff, Beller would move all in as he looked to steal some blinds and antes. Unfortunately for him, Mizrachi woke up on the button with a hand and made the call. Once everyone else got out of the way, Beller showed his A-7 off suit for the battle while Mizrachi popped up pocket Kings to defend his chips. It was all but over from the beginning; a King in the window gave Mizrachi an utterly dominant set to leave Beller drawing dead and, after the formality of the turn and the river, out of the tournament in fifth place.
After Beller headed to the Hard Rock cage to collect his winnings, the remaining four men hit the brakes on the tournament. There wouldn’t be an elimination for the next 80-plus hands, but there was action. Most of it was coming from Colman, who looked to play sheriff on the table and instead saw his chip stack dwindle precariously. After doubling up Sinishtaj for the second time, Colman’s scraps for chips went to the center on Hand 114 with pocket deuces. Although both Fish and Sinishtaj would look him up, Fish would get credit for the elimination as he made a pair of sevens to knock out Colman in fourth place.
Only 20 hands later, the next departure came. Mizrachi was probably pleased about moving into the final three money, but a poker player’s drive always comes from trying to win the tournament they’re in. Fish was the beneficiary once again, making a pair of Queens on the flop against Mizrachi’s pocket fours, to eliminate the hometown favorite (the Mizrachis hail from Hollywood) in third place.
Even though he had been fairly active, Fish was still facing a pretty steep climb in heads up play against Sinishtaj. Down by a 2-1 margin, Fish played masterfully in the early parts of the heads-up battle and, over the span of roughly 20 hands, had taken over the lead. After another ten hands, the lead for Fish would stretch out to its own 2-1 margin over Sinishtaj. For Fish, that would prove to be the final highlight of his time in the Showdown.
On Hand 168, Fish limped in and Sinishtaj raised the action to 1.4 million. Fish pondered what was on Sinishtaj’s mind before moving all in and without hesitation Sinishtaj made the call. It turned out he was right – pre-flop at least – as Sinishtaj’s pocket sevens were leading Fish’s pocket deuces. Once the board ran out Q-J-9-A-9, Sinishtaj could breathe again as he took a key double up and retook the lead from Fish.
Five hands later, it was over. After a raise from Sinishtaj, Fish made the call to see an 8♦ 3♠ 2♦ flop. After first checking his option and seeing Sinishtaj fire again, Fish check-raised all-in for his tournament existence. Once again with no hesitation, Sinishtaj called the bet and turned up a K♦ Q♦ for the flush draw against Fish’s A-3 off suit (pair of treys). The end came quickly when a 6♦ came on the turn to leave Fish drawing dead and, after the exercise of dealing the river (a 9♦, for the record), crowning Sinishtaj the champion of the Showdown.
1. Tony Sinishtaj, $661,283 plus seat in WPT Tournament of Champions
2. Darryll Fish, $453,185
3. Robert Mizrachi, $293,864
4. Dan Colman, $217,686
5. Eric Beller, $164,438
6. Simeon Naydenov, $132,889
After taking a day off for the end of the Showdown, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale will step to the fore for its conclusion on Thursday. Surviving from the 349-player field are six men who, for their $10,000 buy-in, will be amply rewarded today for their three days of labor!
Leading the way will be WPT Champions’ Club member Alan Sternberg, who will hold a sizeable stack of 4.605 million in chips when the table comes together again. Sternberg, the 2011 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star champion, has some quality competition looking to take him down once the cards hit the air. Just behind Sternberg is former World Champion Ryan Riess, sitting on a stack of 3.09 million chips, and a member of last year’s “November Nine,” Cliff Josephy, a little further back with 1.855 million chips. Toss in other “grizzled veterans” of the poker wars like Tim West (1.995 million), Terry Schumacher (1.385 million) and Jason Koon (1.03 million) and the final table should be an exciting one.
The final table of the Finale will begin at noon at the Hard Rock and the live stream with former WPT champion Tony Dunst will begin at 12:30 on delay at WPT.com (the tournament is not a part of the television schedule on Fox Sports 1). It also will mark the final entry from Season XV champions into the WPT Tournament of Champions (which begins Friday) if someone other than Sternberg should win the tournament (Sternberg, as a former champion, must buy into the ToC unless he wins the Finale).