It seems like it has gone on forever, but Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour will finally come to a close over the next week. The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown will begin tomorrow, the final event on what has been a season like no other. The WPT Seminole Hard Rock will also close the door on the Season XVIII Player of the Year race, crowning a champion that has been in the making for two years.

Final Scheduled Event for Season XVIII

The $3500 event will be the final chance for poker players of all ilk to get a piece of what should be a monstrous prize pool. The preliminary events have shown that Florida poker is alive and well. A $600 buy-in tournament that started the schedule had a $500,000; it ended up with a prize pool of over $2 million. The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Main Event should be one of the biggest WPT events ever, especially with a single rebuy available to all players on either of the two-Day Ones of action that begin on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

History shows that the WPT SHRPO has been a popular destination for poker players, even when there has not been a pandemic going on. The very first WPT Main Event was held back in 2011, when 433 players stepped to the breech for a $10,000 buy in tournament. Taylor von Kriegenberg was the eventual champion of that tournament, besting Curt Kohlberg for the title and the $1.1 million-plus payday.

Since that event, the WPT SHRPO Main Event has only grown in its stature. Although the buy in was dropped in 2013 to $5000, even more players came out to play (542). The tournament instituted a re-entry option in 2015 and saw its largest field ever, 1476 entries for $3500 each. It is entirely possible that this record may be broken in 2021, especially with the lack of big dollar tournaments on the schedule previously or after the SHRPO has concluded.

As to a champion of the event, we are going to have to wait a bit to learn who that will be. The final table will be delayed until May 18, when the WPT will play out the final table that will conclude the tournament and Season XVIII.

POY Battle to Be Decided

The Season XVIII Player of the Year race will also be decided by the SHRPO Main Event. Currently Brian Altman, who was the champion of the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open back in January of 2020, holds a 700-pooiint lead over Jack Hardcastle, who used the championship he earned in the WPT Montreal Online event to catapult into the race. Lurking in third is Qing Liu, who nearly made WPT history by winning two Main Events in as many nights (something that would not have been possible without the COVID-19 pandemic).

If the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event cracks the $4 million prize pool mark, then 1400 points would be up for grabs (and should none of the top players earn any points) for the eventual champion. This means that any player who is in the Top Eleven is capable of earning enough points to take over the lead and win the POY championship:

1. Brian Altman, 2900 points
2. Jack Hardcastle, 2200
3. Qing Liu, 2000
4. Eric Afriat, 1700
(tie) Manig Loeser, 1700
6. Toby Joyce, 1675
7. Balakrishna Patur, 1650
8. Donald Maloney, 1600
(tie) Lars Kamphues, 1600
10. Alex Foxen, 1550
(tie) Joe McKeehen, 1550

It should be a great weekend of poker in Southwest Florida, and it ends the longest season in the history of the WPT (and hopefully one that is never repeated, pandemic wise!). Poker News Daily will keep you up to date on the action as the WPT invades the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL.

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