A week of poker in paradise produced an extraordinary event that culminated in a night of action packed with compelling storylines. During the captivating final table, WPT Season VIII Festa al Lago Champion Tommy Vedes stole the show by overcoming a short stack to etch his name for a second time onto the WPT Champions Cup. Vedes claimed the $779,520 top prize and entered WPT history as only the third player ever to rise from short stack to WPT Champion.
The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown has shaken up the race for WPT Season X Player of the Year. Coming into the final day, all eyes were on Joe Serock, who had stormed the late stages of the tournament. While he stumbled midway through the final table, Serock still shot into pole position for WPT Player of the Year with back-to-back third place finishes in televised Season X events. The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown carried a $10,000 buy-in, attracting 290 entrants for a large prize pool of $2,784,000. Through various activities such as the VIP Welcome Party, Royal Flush Girls Beach Volleyball and Scavenger Hunt, players and fans took advantage of the expansive resort property at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
On the felt, the action created a fantastic week of poker. Butch Valure, one of two ClubWPT.com qualifiers for the tournament, took 20th place for $25,056. Valure became the second ClubWPT.com qualifier to cash in a Florida event during WPT Season X as Artie Rodriguez finished fifth at WPT Jacksonville for $55,077. The talented WPT Main Event field whittled down to a distinguished final table after five days and twenty four levels of action. Coming off his recent 3rd place finish at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, Joe Serock entered with a commanding chip lead and squared off against four other professionals and Sharon Levin, an amateur with a recent WPT final table appearance. WPT Champion Tommy Vedes made the final day at the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown for the second consecutive year, however began play this time as the short stack.
After a slow start to the action, a double-up for Tommy Vedes through Kyle Bowler shifted play into overdrive. Although crippled in chips, Bowler briefly rebounded but would soon fall to Serock in 6th place. As the action turned fast and furious, Vedes proceeded to go on a tear, eliminating Sharon Levin in 5th place. Coupled with his February run at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open, Levin has now finished fifth in the past two WPT Main Events at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. An hour later, Michigan pro Craig Bergeron shoved all-in with pocket Sixes but was dominated by Vedes’ pocket Queens. The better pre-flop hand held up, leaving Bergeron with $212,976 for his efforts.
Perhaps the biggest swing of the night came less than ten hands later, as John Dolan doubled-up against Serock to take control of the final table. Serock’s chip-stack dwindled from there, and although he ultimately looked poised to double-up through Dolan, an unlucky King on the turn knocked him out of the tournament once again in 3rd place. Beyond the $306,240 payout, Serock grabbed 900 key POY points.
While he started the night low in chips, Vedes’ deft play now positioned him heads-up with the chance to become a two-time WPT Champion. Dolan dominated the action early on, however Vedes regained control with two timely double-ups. The final hand saw Vedes turn an Ace-high straight for the unforgettable victory. Not only did Tommy Vedes become just the third player in WPT history to win a Main Event when entering the final table as the short stack, Vedes also moved into 35th place on the all-time WPT career earnings list with $2,215,955 and joined an elite group of 16 players as two-time WPT Champions.
“I came in thinking that if I took sixth, I’d be okay with it because I knew the table was super hard and I had no chips,” said Tommy Vedes. “Once I doubled the first time, I realized this was going to be different. I set myself up for success.”
For the win, Tommy Vedes also moves into a tie for 8th place in the prestigious WPT Player of the Year standings. Fred Goldberg picked up 400 important POY points for his deep run (8th – $69,600) and sits tied for 4th place in the close race. The big mover during the tournament was Joe Serock, who now has 1,800 points and a slight lead with only two WPT Main Events left in the historic Season X.
World Poker Tour® immediately heads north for the inaugural WPT Jacksonville bestbet Open (April 27 – May 2). Open to anyone 18 years of age or older, this televised WPT Main Event is the final chance for players to get their name onto the acclaimed WPT Champions Cup before the season-ending $25,000 WPT World Championship at Bellagio. This year’s WPT World Championship will also feature the televised $100,000 buy-in WPT Super High Roller event, which will be filmed for broadcast in three episodes on Fox Sports Net (FSN) as part of the Season X telecast.
Final Table Results
1. Tommy Vedes – $779,520
2. John Dolan – $459,360
3. Joe Serock – $306,240
4. Craig Bergeron – $212,976
5. Sharon Levin – $158,688
6. Kyle Bowker – $122,496
Player of the Year Standings
1. Joe Serock – 1,800
2. Will Failla – 1,650
3. Vitor Coelho – 1,500
4. Fred Goldberg – 1,400
4. Sean Jazayeri – 1,400
4. Bobby Oboodi – 1,400
4. James Dempsey – 1,400
8. Soi Nguyen – 1,250
8. Tommy Vedes – 1,250