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Seminole Hard Rock Smashes Guarantee; Has Nearly $12 Million Prize Pool for Main Event

When it was announced that the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open would have a $10 million guaranteed prize pool for its Main Event it brought with it much skepticism, because of the recent debacle with missed guarantees and other bad publicity surrounding large guarantees on smaller tournaments.  All of these concerns were more than valid.  When Matt Savage decided that he was going to stick his neck out and host the tournament as tournament director everything changed, and this tournament instantly became a must on every players schedule.

The Seminole Hard Rock did not disappoint as it crushed the $10 million guarantee and had over 2,300 entries to generate a total prize pool of nearly $12 million.  That prize pool makes it the largest non-WSOP event that wasn’t a $100k buy-in ever, and when you consider that it only had an entry of $5k, it is truly remarkable.  The winner will take home about $1.75 million and the final table will all walk away with at least $175k.  These numbers are staggering considering that it is a tournament in Florida in the middle of August with no other major tournaments in the region driving traffic.

The tournament has had some of the biggest names in the poker world turn out to try for their share of the first prize and has even attracted some celebrities such as Nelly, who also performed a show last night after day 1b.  The tournament is unique in that it offers re-entry to players even if they do not bust out on a preceding day.  If you would like to try to run your stack up from what you ended a day with, then you are allowed to.  Pro Chris Klodnicki took to his Twitter to tell everyone he was doing this when he decided to try to run up a stack after ending day 1b with 34k in chips.

The tournament has not been without its detractors though.  Mike Matusow said that he is not a fan of re-entry tournaments for a couple of reasons that include sucking the pool dry much faster and the chance for cheating to happen.  He thinks cheating is possible from people sneaking chips into the tournament form previous day, but also from collusion among players, since you can re-enter even if you gift someone all of your chips.  Some of these concerns are legitimate and shared by others, while others are old concerns that have been proven to not have near the effect that Mike would like to believe.  Many players have figured out how little of an impact mathematically speaking doubling up on the first day of a tournament actually has on ICM, so this should put players at ease.

This tournament also comes at an important time for tournament poker around the world, after seeing many larger tournaments fail to reach guarantees, such as Partouche, EPT Main Event, UKIPT Gallaway and the WPT Cyprus event.  Something like this going off well and attracting well more than what was needed to cover the guarantee shines a different light on the health of the poker economy as a whole, and can be a rallying point for businesses who think that there is a large desire for poker in America.  No matter how you feel about re-entry tournaments, this tournament can only have good stories come from it, and provides a great boost to the cache of poker everywhere.  Matt Savage and the Seminole Hard Rock have pulled off a huge coup. will update when the tournament is over to give you all the action that transpired over the course of the tournament. 

(Information from the official tournament website used.)

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Andrew Schupick