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Seminole Hard Luck Poker Open: An Overlay, a Holiday & Scott Seiver Gets His Way

Oh what a difference a year makes.

Press rewind on the VHS of life and 2013 saw the emergence of a new heavyweight in the live tournament roster.

Ding, ding.

The 2013 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open declared open war on the big three by announcing their intent to host a $5,300 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Main Event.

Drum roll please….

With a $10m Guarantee!

Would they make it?

Would they fall flat on their faces?

The event was a huge success.

Entrants numbering 2,384 dwarfed the guarantee, and there was a talented final table to boot, with Blair Hinkle defeating Justin Bonomo in heads-up action to take the $1,745,245 first prize.

If at first you succeed, let’s just do the whole thing all over again.

One year later and the wheels seem to have fallen off the SHRPO bus. Only 1,499 entrants ponied up the $5,300 buy-in, representing a 37% dip in year-on-year heads, but more importantly, it left the SHRPO chiefs with a $2.5m overlay.


By my reckoning, that’s the biggest mass of free money ever given out in the history of tournament poker.

It Get’s Worse

With the vig set at $2,500 per player, the $100,000 Super High Roller was a nice little money earner for the Seminoles. So how then did they also end up eating it after that event?

I will try to explain.

Reading through Twitter and various posts on 2+2, it seems that Scott Seiver asked a member of the floor how many places were going to be paid out when he realized that the field was going to be quite small.

Seiver, and the rest of the table, received word that they would be paying two spots (65%-35%), as long as there were <11 players, and three spots (50%-30%-20%) with a field size of >11 players.

When Day 1 action ends the players are handed their bags and the official tells the table that they have made a mistake and three places will be paid out and not two.

This ruling sends Seiver into a spin and he demands to speak to the boss of all bosses as he is deeply upset that they are planning to change the payout structure midway through the tournament.

Remarkably, Seiver is told that the Director of Poker Operations, William Mason, is on holiday. Yes, Mason’s boss actually allows him to take a vacation during their biggest event of the year.

Go figure.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, Seiver eventually convinces the people in charge not to change their decision, which, by the way, abides by Tournament Rule No. 9 which states, “Tournament Director decisions are final and without recourse,” and everybody leaves for the day.

When the rest of the players find out that only two places are being paid, there is a back and fore Twitter debate between Ryan Fees, Jason Mo and Scott Seiver, with Fees and Mo calling Seiver out for effectively changing the TD’s mind because he had the most chips, and therefore the most to gain from the decision.

What Mo and Fees failed to understand is that Seiver didn’t change the TD’s mind. He successfully argued that they wouldn’t change their mind. The evidence is pretty clear that the officials stated that two places would be paid out, if fewer than 11 players entered, and this is what happened.

A lot of arguing about nothing if you ask me.

So how did the SHRPO lose out on money as well as losing their integrity?

Oh yeah…I almost forgot.

With the debacle promoted within the corridors of poker social media power within minutes, the SHRPO officials kindly offered to add an additional $50,000 to the prize pool so the player who finished third had a little something to take away from the whole sorry episode.

On the bright side. The SHRPO did manage to blag Shannon Elizabeth to carry out the sideline reporting, and PokerStars did a sweet job with the coverage of the live stream.

I can’t wait until next year.


Will there be a next year?



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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.